Face Lift Surgery Q&A

Face lift Surgery

More than any other procedure, it is the ”face lift surgery“ or rhytidectomy that has come to be associated with plastic surgery in most people’s mind. The procedure is one which has been performed by plastic surgeons since 1911, and one that has continued to evolve since then, as our understanding of the anatomy of the face has evolved. Currently there are a number of techniques that can be performed, all under the name ”face lift“, to remove excess skin of the face that sags with age, re-contour the neck by removal of fat, skin, and surgery of the neck muscles, and reposition the sagging structures of the face itself, such as muscles and fat pads around the cheekbones.

The end result of face lift surgery is a balanced, refreshed and reposed appearance to the face; the goal is not to make the patient look younger, but to make the patient look the very best they can for their age. The old concept of a standard face lift for all patients is outdated and has led to the disdain that some have rightly developed for the procedure, since it led to mask-like faces. The procedure must be individualized for the patient, and a number of different ancillary techniques have been developed and can now be used. Today, I prefer to surgically correct deformities of specific areas such as the brow, mid cheek, lower face and neck individually for the patient, rather than performing the full face lift for all patients.

The following should answer some of the most common questions patients have regarding facelift procedures.

How long does  face lift surgery take?

Typically, the procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes between 3-5 hours depending on the number of ancillary procedures performed. The surgery is performed under local or general anesthesia.

Is the procedure painful?

There is minimal pain associated with the procedure, and any discomfort is controlled well by oral pain medication.

Will the face lift surgery remove my wrinkles?

No. The facelift procedure will elevate the sagging skin, especially of the lower face, and remove some of the larger folds/wrinkles. Other smaller wrinkles of the skin will continue to be visible after the surgery and may need laser resurfacing or chemical peels to improve the quality in such areas as the upper lip, chin, and forehead.

How long will the effects of the surgery last?

Typically, the results of the surgery last between seven and ten years; sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on the aging process, quality of skin, and exposure to the environment. After that, the face will begin to sag again, but obviously, the patient will still appear better than if no surgery was performed. At some point in the future, the patient may wish to have a secondary lifting to counteract the continuing effects of gravity and aging.

How long before I recover from the surgery?

Patients recover from the initial effects of the surgery within three days. There will, however, be swelling, discoloration, and restricted activity for at least two weeks. By the third week, patients can resume their normal lifestyles. Temporary effects may include tightness, irregularities, numbness, and weakness of muscles.

What alternatives are there?

Facial peels, fat injections and liposuction, and the use of laser resurfacing are some of the other techniques that can be used to improve facial appearance. However, they all have limitations, and their best uses are as ancillary procedures to surgical facelifts. Although improvements can be expected with their use as single procedures, the patient with truly sagging skin will not benefit from these interventions alone.