Face Lift

As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun and the stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases form between the nose and mouth (nasolabial fold). The jawline grows slack and jowls emerge. Folds and fat deposits appear around the neck. A facelift (rhytidectomy) is the name for a group of operations that address these issues. Surgery cannot stop the aging process. What it can do is “set back the clock,” improving the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping the skin of your face and neck.

A facelift can improve the deep cheek folds, jowls, and loose skin around the neck that come with age. A facelift can considerably reduce these signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening the underlying muscles, and redraping the skin around the neck and face.  Facelifts can be done alone, or frequently performed in conjunction with another procedure such as a browlift, eyelid surgery, or nose reshaping.  If your problem areas are limited to the neck, a more conservative procedure, known as a “necklift” will be recommended.  In some cases, a facelift can reduce the outward signs of aging by ten or fifteen years.

Before having a facelift it is important to prepare yourself. If you color your hair you may want to do so before having surgery .You cannot use hair dye for 4 to 6 weeks after having a facelift. Do not take any medications or pills that contain before or after the surgery. Aspirin thins the blood. A successful facelift impart depends upon the ability of your blood to clot. If your blood is too thin it can harm the healing process.Here is a list of some other medications to avoid surgery. Make sure to let us know any and all medications and vitamins you are taking during your consultation.

Below is a more complete list of Medications to Avoid:

  • Aspirin Products
  • Alka-seltzer Products
  • Bayer Products
  • Excedrin
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Lbuprofen Medications
  • Advil
  • Alleve
  • Dimetapp
  • Motrin

Smoking can be harmful if you are intending to have a facelift. Smoke restricts the blood vessels in your face that are important for healing. Smoking, or being around smokers can result in necrosis. Necrosis is where the skin dose not receive enough blood, turns black and eventually dies. If you are a smoker you must quit two weeks before surgery and two weeks after. You must also avoid being around others who are smoking.

Face lift surgery is performed under local anesthesia combined with oral and intravenous sedatives or general anesthesia. Incisions usually begins above the hairline at the temple, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin. The surgeon separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contouring of neck and jaw line. Then the surgeon tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and trims the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions, on the scalp staples are used.

A small thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon will wrap your head with bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.

Surgery Length5 – 6 hours
Side EffectsTemporary bruising, swelling, numbness and tenderness of skin; tight feeling, dry skin. For men, permanent need to shave behind ears, where beard-growing skin is repositioned.
Recovery PeriodBack to work: 10 to 14 days. More strenuous activity: 4 weeks or more. Bruising: 2 to 3 weeks. Must limit exposure to sun for several months.
Stay in Hospital1 day
Stay in Thailand14 days
  • It is important to use cold compress to avoid swelling and bruising for the first 24 hours. However, make sure not get the bandages or stitched areas wet. This could cause infection. The tubes used for draining are usually removed after the first 24 hours.
  • It is important to keep your head elevated and try not to move. The stitches at your ears hold all the weight of your skin. Too much pressure or stretching from activity can result in a less than desirable appearance. Extra pillows will not only help to elevate your head but will also cradle your head. This also reduces swelling.
  • Often there is a general discomfort and bruising .There should be no major pain or swelling. However, there will be varying degrees of pain and discomfort. Bruising varies but usually fades after a few days.
  • Many patients experience a sensation of tightness or numbness. The face will be numb in some areas. This is from slight damage to the nerve fibers. After 6 to 12 weeks the nerve fibers will all grow back.
  • In some rare cases, numbness can last up to nine mouths. Use mild pain medication as necessary such as Tylenol or prescribed Hydrocodone.
  • Be sure to have someone around the house who can help you. This person should help to rotate the cold compress, answer the phone and prepare your meals.
  • For a speedy recovery and the best results you must limit your physical activity. This means no sex or heavy exercising .Sex and exercising increase your blood pressure. An increase in blood pressure can result in bleeding or stretching of stitches. Even talking or removing the jaw should be avoided right after the surgery since this can dislodge the stitches. All vigorous activity should be avoided for one full month after surgery.
  • Your diet should be liquid soft for the first 48 hours. Chewing promotes swelling and bruising. In addition to liquids your diet should be high protein and contain vitamins. Avoid preservatives because preservatives promote swelling.
  • When you first begin to stand try not to swivel your head around too much. Walking will help to heal but be sure not to bend over for three weeks after the procedure.
  • After the first dressing is removed your face will be swollen and bruised. Your hair will also be matted from the antiseptic solution. Your first instinct may be to shower but you must wait till two days after surgery. When you are ready to shower maker sure there is someone there to help you.
  • Your stitches or closings are usually removed seven to ten days after the procedure.
  • It is important not to smoke for at least two weeks after surgery. Smoke can constrict the blood vessels in your face which can be harmful to your skin and healing process.

 Most patients don’t feel much discomfort after having a facelift.  If you do, then pain medication provides relief. To keep swelling down, keep your head elevated for a few days. Numbness of the skin disappears in a few months. After bandages are removed, your face may look pale, bruised and puffy. Features may be distorted from swelling and facial movements may be stiff, but in a few weeks, you’ll see positive results. Avoid strenuous activity, such as sexual intimacy and heavy housework, for at least two weeks. Avoid alcohol, steam baths and saunas for several weeks. Limit exposure to the sun for several months. And, for optimal healing, get plenty of rest. You can be back at work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. By the third week, you’ll look and feel much better.

 For all procedures, it is important to follow the instructions of your plastic surgeon regarding medications and vitamins, eating, drinking and stopping smoking.

The best candidate for a facelift is a man or woman who may have some sagging skin, but whose skin still retains some elasticity. Most facelift patients are in their forties to sixties. However, each facelift is a highly individualized procedure and it is best to consult with your plastic surgeon about your specific situation.

Facelift patients often have other facial rejuvenation procedures simultaneously with their facelift. These procedures may include, a brow lift, a neck lift or eyelid surgery. It is best to consult with your doctor to see whether this is appropriate in your specific situation.

Face lift procedures have evolved over the past few generations into a safe, predictable method to rejuvenate the face, without the pulled “done” look of the past procedures.