As people age the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun and stresses of daily life can be seen on their faces. The face lift procedure, also known as rhytidectomy, does not stop this process, but it can return youthfulness to your face. A face lift will tighten facial skin, remove excess fat deposits and reinforce underlying muscle tissues, giving you a more rested, youthful look. It is often performed in conjunction with eyelid surgery and/or brow lifts. The ideal face lift candidate ranges in age between 40 and 60 years of age, although some of the most successful outcomes may fall below or above that age range.
The face lift procedure may take up to four hours or longer depending on if you are having more than one procedure done. Incisions will be made on each side of your face beginning within the hair line above the temple area and will follow the natural line behind the tragus. It then curves behind the earlobe before ending in the creases behind the ear. Facial and neck tissue, as well as muscle, may be separated from the skin. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned after the skin has been pulled up and back. Sometimes the deeper tissues may also need to be repositioned in order to restore a more youthful contour to the face. If you decide to have a neck lift as well, a small incision will be made under your chin. Stitches will be applied to secure and enclose the incisions. Small tubes may be placed under your skin behind the ear to drain any blood that may have been collected during the surgery. Your head will be bandaged to minimize bruising and swelling. After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room until you wake and are able to go home, which generally takes several hours. Your surgeon may recommend an overnight stay.
Your initial consultation is extremely important. The surgeon will evaluate your skin elasticity, muscle tone, and underlying bones to verify if you are a good candidate for a facelift. You should be able to speak freely with your surgeon about your goals and desired outcome. Be prepared to provide your medical history and inform your surgeon of any vitamins and medications (including over-the-counter) that you are taking. Make sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, allergies, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars because these problems can affect the outcome of your surgery.
Work: Most patients are back to work between ten days to two weeks.
Swelling And Bruising: Expect temporary swelling for the next several weeks, however it may last longer. If you feel severe, persistent pain or have sudden swelling, report it to your surgeon immediately. Keep your head elevated for two or three days following surgery while applying cold compresses or small ice packs to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Make sure there is a small amount of water in the ice bags at all times. If you have had drain tube inserted, it may be removed a few days after surgery. Stitches may be removed within several weeks after surgery unless given stitches that are absorbed or can be washed out.
Showering: You may shower following surgery as long as you keep your dressing dry.
Make-Up: You can wear make-up after a week or two. However, try not to massage the skin too much when removing make-up.
Discomfort: During the first week after surgery you may experience tightness but little pain or discomfort. Numbness is normal and can last for weeks or months. Try to follow a careful plan and avoid strenuous activities. This can help avoid tension to your wounds.
Recovery: Recovery should be thought of in terms of time necessary for the body to heal and time before one can return to full activities. It usually takes two weeks for the body to heal from face lift surgery. Although, you should be up and about after the procedure, plan on resting for at least the first week. Be extremely gentle to your skin for it will be tender and numb. It is not uncommon to feel disappointed or depressed the week following surgery. Most visible signs of surgery should fade completely within a few weeks. Avoid activities that will raise blood pressure such as lifting, sports, or bending for about three weeks. As a result of any surgery, there will be scars. Every effort will be made to hide or make them as concealed as possible. Final appearances of face lift scars are usually excellent.
Results: Each patient heals and scars differently. It is vital to keep in mind that the results of this procedure vary from patient to patient. However most patients will enjoy their final result within six to twelve months.