Facelift surgery, or a rhytidectomy, is designed to restore a more youthful appearance by removing major wrinkles and sagging skin. It involves tightening of the facial and neck muscles as well as the removal of any excess skin.
The skin begins to wrinkle and sag as a result of age, sun exposure and genetics. Children and young adults have smooth, round faces due to evenly distributed fatty tissues in facial contours. Over time, the skin sags and folds around the chin, jawline and neck and they become prominent. Not only does a facelift improve facial appearance but also has a dramatic effect on the neck, enhancing its contour and profile.
A facelift can make a patient look 5 to 10 years younger. Dramatic as the end results are, this is not a simple procedure. It requires a week to 10 days of recovery.
We will evaluate your medical history in order to determine your overall health.
Drs. McDonnell, Kimberly or Klein will discuss with you how your face can look and what you can expect from surgery. Our objective is to create a natural appearance that is pleasing to you. Before and After photographs will reveal what the surgery has accomplished.
Preoperative Instructions: Avoid drugs that contain aspirin several weeks prior to surgery to minimize excess bleeding. You may be required to take antibiotics to prevent infection. You may be instructed to shampoo your hair the night before surgery. A small amount of hair may be shaved around your ears and temples.
A facelift is frequently performed in conjunction with blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), forehead lift, chin augmentation, and/or liposuction, to create an overall rejuvenation of the face. The procedure can be repeated as gravity continues its effects after the first surgery.
Facelifts are performed in outpatient surgical centers or in an accredited physician’s office. Local anesthesia with intravenous sedation is most commonly used, with premedication to help you relax. General anesthesia is generally not required but can be used if desired.
The surgeon will make incisions inside the hairline at the temple, in front of the ear, then around the earlobe and behind the ear, ending at the scalp area. Excess skin is removed and sagging muscles and connective tissues are tightened. In some cases, fatty deposits are removed from beneath the chin and neck. Incisions are closed with small sutures.
The procedure may take up to 5 hours depending on whether any other procedures are performed at the same time.
Post Operative Care
It is necessary to have someone drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours. Initially you will have a large dressing wrapped around your head. You may have surgical drains attached to bulbs hanging at your neck. These will be removed in approximately 24 hours. Stitches around the ears will be loosened or removed in a few days. The scalp sutures will be removed in 7-10 days.
To minimize scarring, the doctor may remove the sutures in stages. Scarring fades quickly. Swelling and discoloration decrease within two weeks. Tightness in your face will be present for several weeks and there may be slight changes in your hair pattern around the incision.
We recommend that you avoid the sun for several weeks after surgery.
Complications following facelift are rare. These include bleeding, infection, loss of skin behind the ears, facial nerve injury, discoloration of the skin, numbness, asymmetry and scarring. Infection is rare due to the large blood supply to the face. As mentioned, the risk of bleeding is greater if you take aspirin or blood thinners within 2 weeks of the surgery. The risk of wound complications increases in diabetics, persons with a history of radiation, autoimmune and collagen disease as well as in smokers.
By following pre- and post-operative instructions, you will minimize potential problems.
Recovery: What to Expect
In the weeks following surgery, the facial skin and area around the ear may be numb. There may also be some temporary discoloration as healing begins, which may take a few months to disappear. Occasionally, the facial nerve is bruised during surgery, resulting in temporary loss of function or sensation. However, actual permanent damage to the facial nerve is rare.
The healing process is gradual, so you will not notice final results for up to 6 months. A single procedure often achieves the desired results. Most patients who have had facelifts are pleased with their new, more youthful appearance.