Some of the most visible signs of aging first appear on the face. Although the changes appear gradually, there may come a day when you look in the mirror and decide that the face you see doesn't reflect the way you feel about yourself. If you'd like to look as good as you feel, a facelift can help. Also known as rhytidectomy, a facelift smooths the loose skin on your face and neck, tightens underlying tissues and removes excess fat. As a result, your face will appear firmer and fresher. You'll find basic information about a facelift in this brochure. However, the best way to get complete answers to specific questions that relate to your individual needs is to have a personal consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery®.*
*In Canada, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada®
Is a facelift right for me?
Facelift surgery needs to be approached with extra caution if you have any of the following medical conditions:
Be sure to alert your plastic surgeon if you are affected by any of these conditions.
What should I expect from the consultation?
If you are overweight and have a realistic desire to lose more than 15 pounds, your weight loss could affect your results. It's important to discuss these plans with your surgeon.
During your physical evaluation, your plastic surgeon will assess your bone structure and the underlying tissues of the face. The thickness, texture and elasticity of your skin and the severity of the wrinkles and folds will also be considered. Your hairline will be examined to determine where incisions can be discreetly placed. All of these factors will be considered in developing your surgical plan.
Your plastic surgeon may explain additional procedures that can be performed along with a facelift to meet your appearance goals. For example, a facelift is frequently combined with:
How is a facelift performed?
There are many variations to the facelift procedure. However, the incision is typically hidden in the natural contour of your ear, and then extends around the earlobe and back into the hairline. Following surgery, the incisions are easily concealed by your hair or with makeup. There also may be a small incision hidden beneath your chin.
Working through these incisions, your plastic surgeon frees the facial skin from its underlying tissues and pulls it upward and back. The excess skin is then removed. In some cases, the deeper tissues may also be repositioned to restore a more youthful contour to your face. If necessary, an incision under the chin allows your surgeon to remove fatty tissue in that area and smooth the cord-like structures of the underlying muscle in the neck.
How will I learn about the safety of facelift surgery?
One of the most important parts of your consultation is the discussion that you and your surgeon will have about the possible complications of facelift surgery. In addition to listening carefully to what your surgeon tells you, be sure to raise any questions you may have about the safety of the procedure. By carefully following your surgeon's advice and instructions - both before and after surgery - you can do your part to minimize some of the risks.
How will I look and feel right after surgery?
The first day
Within two weeks
After several weeks
Throughout the healing period, you should avoid exposure to direct sunlight and, for the long term, be conscientious about using sun block preparations to protect your skin.
What should I know about my results?
A number of factors, including your heredity and your lifestyle, play a role in how long the results of your facelift will last. Even though the aging process continues, patients are usually happy with their appearance for many years following a facelift. Some patients find that they want to make additional improvements at a later time.
How long will I continue to see my plastic surgeon?
CHOOSING A QUALIFIED SURGEON
Find out if your doctor is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery® (ABPS) or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada®. Surgeons with this certification have completed a minimum of five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. During this intensive program, surgeons learn to perform surgical procedures for the entire body and face. At the same time, they develop their technical skill and aesthetic judgment. After training, a surgeon must pass comprehensive oral and written exams before being grantedcertification. The two professional organizations that have prepared this brochure, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, require their members to be certified by the ABPS. Ask about the surgeon's hospital privileges. Even if you are planning to have your surgery in your doctor's office or at a surgery center, it is important to find out if your surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure that you would like to have performed. Before granting privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon's training and competency for specific procedures.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS®) is the largest plastic surgery organization in the world, representing surgeons certified by The American Board of Plasfc Surgery® in the United States and its territories and The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada®. ASPS is devoted to advancing quality care in plastic surgery by encouraging highstandards in training, ethics, physician practice, and research.
Members of ASPS must complete annual requirements in continuing medical education and uphold the ethical and professional standards of the specialty.
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery® (NASAPS®) is the only plastic surgery organization devoted entirely to advancing the field of cosmetic surgery. Its members have met special requirements for experience and continuing medical education in cosmetic surgery.