The purpose of face lift surgery is to create a younger appearance in the face. The operation aims to reduce loose folds of skin that is often found around the jawline or cheeks, as well as alleviating facial changes that appear with age. Rhytidectomy surgery will pull back the flaps of skin found on both sides of the face and then surgically alter the tissues located underneath the skin. This will then result in the contour of the face resembling a more youthful shape. Prior to closing the flaps, the surgeon will remove excess skin.
It is important to remember that a face lift will not reduce damage pertaining to the sun. If this is something you are looking to achieve, there are other procedures than specifically target the appearance of the skin itself. Moreover, nor is it suitable for creases around the upper lip or nose.
If you are considering face lift surgery, take some time to read our comprehensive guide prior to taking the plunge. We have covered everything you need to know – including the factors you need to consider before, during and after the surgical procedure.
The cosmetic procedure that aims to create a more youthful facial appearance
The purpose of a Face Lift
The alteration of the shape and appearance of your face in relation to age is a part of life. This usually results in looser and less elastic skin. Furthermore, in some areas of the face, fat deposits can increase, as well as decrease in other areas. By engaging in a face lift procedure, the following specificities may be reduced.
- Jowls – Surplus skin that is found at the lower jawline
- Cheeks that are suffering from a sagging appearance
- Folds of skin that looks deepened, between your nose and the corner of your mouth
- If the procedure if being combined with a neck lift, surplus fat and sagging skin around the neck area
Preparing for the procedure
Factors to ensure you are suitable for a face lift
To ensure that you are an ideal candidate for face lift surgery, please consider the following factors.
- Repeated weight gain or loss
If you have a history of weight fluctuation – i.e. you regularly gain or lose weight, the results of your face lift might not meet your expectations, or they will only remain in place temporarily. The reason for this is that weight fluctuation can affect the condition of your skin, as well as the shape of your face.
- Medical conditions
Unfortunately, you will not be suitable for Rhytidectomy if you currently suffer from a medical condition that prevents blood clotting. Moreover, high blood pressure may prevent you from undergoing a face lift, as it can potentially hinder the wound healing process.
This also includes any supplements or medications that you are currently on. Should they have the effect of clotting of your blood, it can cause complications post-surgery.
To follow on from the above, smoking can also prevent your wounds from healing properly, so please bare this in mind prior to engaging with a face lift. Most likely, you will be asked to refrain from smoking for a good 6 weeks prior surgery date for optimal results.
When you first meet your surgeon, you will need to go through an initial consultation. First and foremost, the surgeon will assess your medical history. This will include a range of questions centring on previous or current conditions, any prior surgeries you have under-taken and your relationship with alcohol, smoking and drugs. After this, the surgeon will then proceed with a physical examination. If there are any concerns regarding your suitability as a face lift candidate, then the surgeon may request medical records from your doctor.
The next stage of the consultation will require the surgeon to perform an examination of your facial area. This will include your fat distribution, the shape and structure of your face and bones, as well as the quality of your skin. The surgeon might also take photos. Ultimately, this will allow the surgeon to ascertain the best course of surgery available to you.
Finally, you will then need to discuss your goals with the surgeon. This will be your opportunity to explain what it is you are looking to achieve from the face lift procedure. The surgeon will then explain whether or not your aims can be realized and if they can, a full explanation of the proceeding surgery will be provided. The surgeon will also give you a full run down of the associated risks of a face lift.
What to do prior to arriving for surgery
Before you arrive for your face lift, you should ensure that you do not eat any food and drinks, including water, up to 6 hours prior to the procedure. You should also thoroughly wash your face or hair before arriving, as this will reduce the risks of infection. Finally, it is highly advisable to pre-arrange transportation to take you home once you are dismissed the day after your procedure.
So now that you know what to do before you arrive at the surgery, let’s take a look at the face lift procedure itself.
About the Procedure
The specific face lift procedure can differ depending on a number of factors – notably your expectations that were previously discussed with the surgeon. In most cases, the procedure will take between 2-4 hours, however once again – this will depend on your individual circumstances. Nevertheless, the most common procedure is as follows:
The initial step of the face lift procedure will see the anaesthetist administer anaesthesia. This will ensure that you do not experience any pain during the operation. You will be asleep, meaning full general anaesthesia
The surgeon will begin making the required incisions. The location of these incisions will depend on the type of face lift you are opting for. This will most commonly include one of the following:
A limited incision will usually begin just above your ear. This will then extend to the front of your ear. As this particular incision is limited, it will not go as far as the lower scalp.
A traditional incision is more elaborate than its limited counterpart. The incision will being at the hairlines of your temples, all the way down to your lower scalp. If previously discussed, the surgeon might also make an incision under the chin, which will aim to improve the appearance of your neck.
Repositioning and tightening of muscles/tissues
After the incisions have been made, the surgeon will gain access to the underlying muscles and tissues by pulling the skin. The respective tissue will then be repositioned and subsequently tightened, with the new position being secured with sutures. If the surgeon deems it necessary, they may proceed to reposition or remove fat from the affected area.
Trimming surplus skin
The next part of the face lift proceed will see the surgeon trim any surplus skin. This requires significant care from the surgeon, as the trimming process demands ultra-precise cutting.
Once the surgeon has performed the necessary trimming, they will then proceed to close the previously made incisions. In most cases, this will be achieved by utilizing staples and sutures.
Recovery & Aftercare
As soon as the face lift procedure is complete, there will be an immediate recovery process. In terms of what you are likely to experience, you will most probably encounter mild to moderate pain, as well as swelling. You might also experience numbness and bruising around the affected area.
When you leave the surgery, you will also have your incisions covered with face garment. Not only will this protect the affected area, but it will also reduce the effects of bruising and swelling. In some cases, drainage of excess fluid might be facilitated, which is achieved by placing a small tube under the skin.
In the proceeding days after surgery, you should ensure that you take pain medications (which will be recommended by the surgeon) and when resting, make sure your head is elevated use 3 or 4 pillows. Moreover, to further reduce pain and swelling, applying a cool pack to the face will assist.
Within the first couple of days of leaving the surgery, you will need to return to have your drainage tube removed. In terms of removing your stitches, this will normally take place a week after surgery.
Common Concerns (Risks)
As with all cosmetic procedures, there are certain risks associated with a face lift that you must consider.
- Hair or/and skin loss
The face lift procedure can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss around the incision area. Moreover, if the procedure interrupts your facial tissue blood supply, skin loss is also a risk.
Although incision scars are a permanent feature, they are most commonly hidden by your hairline. If necessary, further treatment might be utilized to improve the appearance of scars.
- Injury to the nerves
Although a rarity, face lift complications can lead to nerve injury. This can result in paralysis or loss of sensation of a particular muscle.
One of the most common risks of a face lift is hematoma. This is where the patient experiences additional swelling, due to a collection of blood that forms under the skin. As hematoma normally occurs within a day of the surgery taking place, this can be treated promptly.