Medical Specialist - Cosmetic

About Facelifts

Facelifts 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?
Facelifts are most commonly performed on patients in the 40-60 age range. However, the procedure can produce good results for people in their 60s, 70s and 80s as well. You may be a good candidate for a facelift if you have any of the following types of conditions:

  • a deep line that runs from the corner of your nose to the corner of your mouth 
    loss of a well-defined jawline
  • deep wrinkles in the cheeks and sagging skin near the cheekbones
  • loose skin, wrinkles or excess fatty tissue in the neck. 

Facelift surgery needs to be approached with extra caution if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • blood-clotting problems 
  • the tendency to form excessive scars. 

Be sure to alert your plastic surgeon if you are affected by any of these conditions.

What should I expect from the consultation?
A personal consultation is the first step for every patient considering a facelift. During this meeting, your surgeon will assess your physical and emotional health and discuss your specific cosmetic goals for surgery. You should arrive at the consultation prepared to provide complete information about:

  • previous surgeries
  • past and present medical conditions 
  • treatments you have received 
  • medications that you are taking, including nutritional supplements and herbal remedies.

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:

  • a forehead lift, to correct lines or furrows in the brow 
  • eyelid surgery, to eliminate drooping upper eyelids or bags beneath the eyes 
    nose reshaping 
  • skin treatments, such as chemical peel or laser resurfacing, to minimize fine wrinkles.

How is a facelift performed?
The technique chosen for your surgery depends on your features, your surgeon's preferences and your desired results.

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?
Each year, thousands of people have facelifts and experience no major complications. However, it is important for you to be informed of the risks as well as the benefits.

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?
When surgery is complete, you'll be taken to a recovery area. A bandage may have been wrapped around your face to help control swelling. Sometimes, small drainage tubes are placed beneath the skin to drain away fluids that might otherwise accumulate. Discomfort is usually minimal, but any pain you feel can be controlled with medication prescribed by your surgeon. Although everyone heals at a different rate, you can expect that your recovery will follow this general time line:

 The first day
In this early stage of healing, you should rest with your head elevated to help minimize bruising and swelling.

Within the first week
Swelling reaches its peak, and then begins to subside. 
Bandages will be removed and you may shower. 
Stitches will dissolve or be removed. 
You may return to light activity, but continue to sleep with your head elevated. 
You can wear makeup to conceal any discoloration.

Within two weeks
Most of the bruising will disappear. 
You may resume many of your normal activities, including non-strenuous work.

After several weeks
You may resume exercise. 
Swelling and puffiness will continue to subside. 
Numbness in the facial area will diminish; however, some numbness may persist for several months.

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?
If you're like most people who have the procedure, you'll be very pleased with your refreshed and rejuvenated appearance. Although the healing may take some time, you can expect the end result to be worth the wait.

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?
After the initial healing period, you will return to your plastic surgeon's office for a postoperative follow-up visit so that your healing and progress can be evaluated. In the following months, your surgeon may ask you to return for periodic checkups. It's important to keep these appointments so that your surgeon can assess your long-term results and address any questions or concerns you may have.

No matter what type of plastic surgery you're considering, one of the most important factors in its success is the surgeon you choose. Although it may seem hard to believe, some of the physicians who perform cosmetic surgery today have had no format surgical training. Its advisable to consider the following points before scheduling a consultation:

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.

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