As time goes on, we often are bothered by the signs of aging. These signs may include loss of muscle tone in the lower face which can then create “jowls”, loose skin or excess fat deposits under the chin and jaw, creases beneath the eyelids or around the cheeks and lips, and even facial sagging. Fortunately, there are rejuvenation procedures that our board-certified surgeons at Forma Plastic Surgery can perform to reverse these signs of aging.

What is a facelift?

A facelift, or a rhytidectomy as it is medically known, is a type of cosmetic plastic surgical procedure used to give a more youthful appearance. Often, a facelift will be performed with other procedures such as a brow lift to correct a furrowed brow, or even an eyelid lift to restore aging eyes. The best candidates for a facelift are those individuals between the ages of 40 and 80 who have begun showing the signs of aging but still have some remaining elasticity in their skin. These candidates are also physically healthy, non-smokers who are specific about the areas they want to improve, and also to be realistic about their surgical goals.

Before facelift surgery

It is important to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon for an initial consultation. During this visit, the plastic surgeon will evaluate the patient by asking questions about the patient’s past medical or surgical history, the medications or supplements they might be taking, and the motivation for seeking surgical intervention. Once a patient is determined to be appropriate, the surgeon will evaluate the patient’s facial structure and surgical goals to decide what techniques might be most suitable for the patient. The plastic surgeon will explain in detail what this procedure can and cannot correct in order to make sure that the patient has realistic goals and expectations. During his or her consultation, a patient will also learn about probable outcomes and any potential risks or complications associated with a facelift procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

Patients should begin preparing for surgery two to four weeks before the procedure is scheduled. The plastic surgeon will ask that patients avoid all nicotine sources and avoid taking aspirin or other blood thinning medication. The plastic surgeon will also send the patient for pre-operative labs and testing to make sure that they are appropriate for surgery. You will be prescribed medications to take both before and after the procedure.

The day before surgery, it is important that patients thoroughly wash their hair and get plenty of rest. Patients should also arrange to be accompanied by a friend or family member to the procedure that can drive them home after surgery. It is also important for patients to carefully follow any pre-operative instructions given to them by the surgeon to ensure for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery.

The facelift procedure

A standard facelift incision often begins in the hairline at the sideburn, continuing around the ears and ending behind the ears. The incisions are created this way to minimize the appearance of visible scarring. Then, fat may be removed or redistributed in the face, jowls and neck. The underlying tissue is then repositioned, and the deeper layers of the face and muscles may also be lifted. Next, the skin is pulled back and any excess skin is removed. Finally, the incisions are closed and the face is wrapped to reduce bruising and swelling. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and may take a few hours in time.

Facelift results

A facelift can provide patients with a fresher, more youthful appearance that they will enjoy for years to come. While facial wrinkles and saggy skin seem to resolve after surgery, it may take a few week to several months for swelling to fully resolve and up to six plus months for the incision lines to fully mature. It is important to continue utilizing UV sun protection and a healthy lifestyle to extend the results of your procedure.

The recovery process

After the procedure, patients should return home and get plenty of rest. Your surgeon will likely advise you to sleep or rest in an elevated position to reduce swelling. You will also be instructed to avoid getting your incisions and bandages wet for the first 24 hours. Strenuous physical activity and alcohol consumption should also be avoided during this time. Specific directions are given to each patient.

Patients should expect a small amount of swelling, bruising, skin discoloration, and numbness for a few weeks after the procedure. Sutures are removed approximately one week after the procedure. Patients can return to work about ten days after the surgery. Patients should follow all post-operative care instructions provided to ensure the smoothest recovery possible.