Face lift facts
- Facelift surgery helps to make the face appear younger.
- Results last approximately ten years.
- Recovery time is usually one week but activities can begin the day after surgery.
- Pain and discomfort are usually minimal.
- Additional procedures to supplement the facelift may be necessary for the best results.
What is facelift surgery
A facelift is a surgical method that removes excess facial skin to make the face appear younger. However, the aging face not only loses skin elasticity and develops looser skin, but also loses fat and muscle tone. Additional procedures that may be necessary to achieve the best results include: necklift, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), liposuction, autologous fat injection, removal of buccal (cheek) fat pad, forehead lift, browlift, chemical or laser peel, and malar (cheek), submalar or chin implants.
How is facelift surgery performed?
A traditional facelift procedure is performed through an incision starting in the hair or hairline above and in front of the ear (the temporal region). The incision is extended downward in front of the ear, comes under the ear and then upward behind the ear ending in the hair or hairline behind the ear. The skin and fatty tissues are then lifted off the underlying muscle and fascia (connective tissue) as far forward as is necessary to correct the loose skin problem. The underlying muscle and fascia can be tightened with sutures if the surgeon feels it is necessary. The skin is pulled back and upward and the excess skin removed. The wound is then closed with sutures and skin staples. Some surgeons leave a drain in the wounds to remove excess blood. Bandages are then applied. There are surgical techniques which go into deeper tissues rather than under the skin and fat. The results are similar.
What are complications of facelift surgery?
Although infrequent, the risks and complications of facelift surgery include:
- Bleeding, hematoma, bruising
- Neurological dysfunction (loss of muscle function or sensation), which is usually temporary
- Widened or thickened scar
- Loss of hair (around the incision site)
- Asymmetry (unevenness between two sides)
- Skin necrosis (loss of skin from tissue death)
Facelift is very satisfying to most patients. It achieves a youthful appearance which lasts approximately 10 years. The surgery is performed in an outpatient setting. This can be done in the outpatient surgi-center or even in a well-equipped physician's office. Pain and discomfort after surgery are minimal. Once the dressings are removed after approximately 3-5 days, the patient can resume social activities using makeup to cover bruising and hair over the ears to hide the sutures.
Medically reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD; American Board of Plastic Surgery
National Institutes of Health
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