Men and women who see a “worn out” face due to loosening and sagging of the lower face and neck often consider face-lift. With age, creases form between the nose and mouth; the jawline grows slack causing excess skin to appear on the neck. If you are bothered by some or all of these features, a face-lift may be the answer. These are normal changes resulting from gravity, genetics, sun exposure, smoking and stress. The best candidates are patients with good skin elasticity and a strong underlying bone structure.
A face-lift, or rhytidectomy, is intended to rejuvenate the lower face and neck. By re-draping loose skin, tightening underlying tissues and removing excess fat from the neck and cheeks, a face-lift refines the jawline, neck and cheeks. Other procedures are often added to improve the appearance of the eyes, forehead or upper lip. These can enhance the improvements seen from a face-lift alone.
Be sure to address your expectations and goals during consultation. There are different techniques available which are individualized to help meet your needs. These differ in the extent of incisions, the tissues elevated, and recovery time.
Bulky bandages and a small drainage tube are removed the day following surgery, but a light elastic bandage is worn for the first 7 to 10 days. Patients use ice and sleep with their head elevated for the first week to minimize swelling and bruising. Prescription medications are used to relieve pain and anxiety. Bruising and swelling subside within 2 to 3 weeks and special camouflage cosmetics are available if needed. Patients are back to work in about 3 weeks although some patients have extended swelling or bruising, and longer periods off work are not unexpected. Upper body, aerobic and more vigorous activity can be resumed in about 4 weeks.
Most patients are very happy with the more youthful, rested appearance following face-lift, especially if they are realistic in their expectations and goals. Results can be optimized by combining procedures and being very careful to follow post-operative instructions. While a face-lift does not stop aging it can ‘set back’ the clock to lessen many of the visible findings which give a tired or aged appearance. Remember that even years later, you’ll continue to look better than if you’d never had a face-lift.
All surgery carries some risk. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers. In general, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable. All of these and other, more rare but significant problems can be reviewed on the ASPS link below.
Copy adapted from the joint ASPS and PSEF website.