If you are bothered by signs of aging in your face, facelift surgery may be right for you. Technically known as rhytidectomy, a facelift is a surgical procedure to improve visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as:
Sagging in the midface
Deep creases below the lower eyelids
Deep creases along the nose extending to the corner of the mouth
Fat that has fallen or is displaced
Loss of muscle tone in the lower face may create jowls
Loose skin and excess fatty deposits under the chin and jaw can make even a person of normal weight appear to have a double chin
Rejuvenation procedures typically performed in conjunction with a facelift are brow lift, to correct a sagging or deeply furrowed brow, and eyelid surgery to rejuvenate aging eyes.
The Best Candidates for a Facelift
What facelifts won't do:
As a restorative surgery, a facelift does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the aging process.
Is it right for me?
A facelift can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results, however are important to optimize the quality of the facial skin. This may help delay the time at which a facelift becomes appropriate and often complement the results of surgery. Facelift surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires to try to fit any sort of ideal image.
Facelift surgery is a good option for you if:
You are physically healthy
You do not smoke
You have a positive outlook and specific, but realistic goals in mind for the improvement of your appearance
As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and the stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases form between the nose and mouth; the jawline grows slack and jowly; folds and fat deposits appear around the neck.
A facelift (technically known as rhytidectomy) can't stop this aging process. What it can do is "set back the clock," improving the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and re-draping the skin of your face and neck. A facelift can be done alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as a forehead lift, eyelid surgery, or nose reshaping.
If you're considering a facelift, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure, when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your surgeon about anything you don't understand.
The Best Candidates for a Facelift
The best candidate for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but facelifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.
A facelift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your self- confidence in the process. But it can't give you a totally different look, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Sasmor.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk
When a facelift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, 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.
Complications that can occur include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers.
You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon's advice both before and after surgery.
Planning Your Surgery
Facelifts are very individualized procedures. In your initial consultation Dr. Sasmor will evaluate your face, including the skin and underlying bone, and discuss your goals for the surgery.
Dr. Sasmor will check for medical conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars. Be sure to tell Dr. Sasmor if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
If you decide to have a facelift, Dr. Sasmor will explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the risks and costs involved. Don't hesitate to ask Dr. Sasmor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
A facelift usually takes several hours-or somewhat longer. For extensive procedures, Dr. Sasmor may schedule two separate sessions.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.
In general, Dr. Sasmor separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp.
Following surgery, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
After Your Surgery
There isn't usually significant discomfort after surgery; if there is, it can be lessened with the pain medication prescribed by Dr. Sasmor. (Severe or persistent pain or a sudden swelling of your face should be reported to your surgeon immediately.) Some numbness of the skin is quite normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months.
Your doctor may tell you to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery, to keep the swelling down.
If you've had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Bandages, when used, are usually removed after one to five days. Don't be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you'll be looking normal.
Most of your stitches will be removed one week post surgery. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches or metal clips in your hairline could be left in a few days longer.
Your New Look
The chances are excellent that you'll be happy with your facelift-especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. Even after the swelling and bruises are gone, the hair around your temples may be thin and your skin may feel dry and rough for several months. Men may find they have to shave in new places-behind the neck and ears-where areas of beard- growing skin have been repositioned.
You'll have some scars from your facelift, but they're usually hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your face and ears. In any case, they'll fade within time and should be scarcely visible.
Having a facelift doesn't stop the clock. Your face will continue to age with time, good skin care and other adjunct procedures can prolong the positive changes of the surgical facelift. However, time and gravity and sun are constant, you may want to repeat the procedure perhaps five or ten years down the line. But in another sense, the effects of even one facelift are lasting; years later, you'll continue to look better than if you'd never had a facelift at all.