Over time, gravity, sun exposure, and the stresses of daily life take their toll on our faces and necks. Deep creases appear beside the mouth, the jaw line slackens and develops jowls, and the neck develops loose folds and fat deposits. A facelift counteracts these signs of aging by tightening muscle, removing fat and trimming excess skin, thereby giving your face a fresher, youthful look. After surgery, patients can look as much as 10-15 years younger.
What can a facelift do for me?
Facelifts, technically known as rhytidectomies (literally, “removal of wrinkles”), rejuvenate the mid-to -lower face and neck. Facelifts are most effective for patients who want to correct:
- Midface sagging
- Deep creases under the eyes
- Deep creases between the nose and mouth (nasolabial folds)
- Jowls due to loss of muscle tone
- Sagging areas of fat
- Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw
What won’t a facelift correct?
Facelifts can produce a dramatic improvement in appearance for patients with the problems mentioned above. However, facelifts do not stop the aging process; over time, the signs of aging will gradually appear once again.
Further, facelifts will not rejuvenate the brow, eyelids, nose, and some of the midface. Patients who want to improve these areas may consider combining a facelift with a brow lift or eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).
Injectable soft-tissue fillers, fat grafting, facial implants and skin resurfacing can also enhance the effects of a facelift.
Am I a good candidate for a facelift?
The best candidates for rhytidectomy:
- Wish to improve one or more of the signs of aging indicated above
- Are men or women whose faces have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity
- Are generally healthy
- Do not smoke
- Have realistic expectations
- Are considering a facelift for personal reasons, not because someone else is pressuring them to do so
During your consultation, Dr. Weiss will discuss whether a facelift is right for you.
How is a rhytidectomy performed?
Facelifts are typically performed in a surgery center or hospital under general anesthesia. The way a facelift is performed varies depending on the patient’s facial structure, and the extent of correction desired. The three most common incision techniques Dr. Weiss uses are:
- Traditional facelift: The “full” facelift for rejuvenating the face, jowls and neck, including fat sculpting, lifting and repositioning of muscle and deeper tissues, and skin trimming and redraping. The incision begins at the temples and travels down to the front of the ear, around the earlobe, and behind the ear to the lower scalp at the hairline. Sometimes, another incision is made under the chin.
- Limited-incision facelift: For limited rejuvenation around the eyes and mouth, including nasolabial folds and other deep creases. Short incisions are made at the temples and around the ear, and possibly in the lower eyelids and/or under the upper lip as well.
- Neck lift: A neck lift concentrates on jowls, loose skin on the neck, and fat under the chin. The incision is made around the ear lobe and behind the ear to the lower scalp.
In all three methods, incisions are closed with stitches or surgical clips. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face.
What is the recovery from a facelift like?
After your facelift, Dr. Weiss will wrap the incisions in bandages and very rarely, may place drainage tubes in the area (the tubes will be taken out the next day). If surgical clips are used to hold the incisions closed, they will be removed one week after the facelift along with your stitches.
At first, you may experience swelling, wound itching, numbness, bruising, and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck. Your face may look uneven or distorted, and your facial muscles may feel stiff. Most of these issues are usually resolved within about a week, or (unusually) in 3-6 weeks at the most. Normal sensation typically returns within a few months. Scars become less red, raised, lumpy or itchy in time.
Many patients can return to work in about 10 days using camouflage makeup to minimize the appearance of bruising, but some prefer to wait up to three weeks to make sure the most visible signs of surgery have resolved. You should be gentle with your skin and hair as you recover.
How long will the effects of a facelift last?
Because we continue to age, the results of a facelift do not stop time and you may choose to have another procedure in seven or ten years. But in another sense, the effects are permanent; years later, your face will continue to look better than if you had never had a facelift.