Face Lift (Rhytidectomy) FAQs

General FAQs
  • Q1 :

    Am I a candidate for a Face Lift?

  • If you feel as if your skin is starting to sag around the jowls, the forehead and generally "all over," if you look tired and physically exhausted and you, in fact, are NOT. Perhaps you are feeling as if your skin is starting to become aged looking and are searching for a way to restore your appearance to its younger looking state. Then, a Face Lift is one of the options that you can take. If it is just the sagging on the forehead or eyebrows, then an endoscopic brow lift might be best for you. Full face lifts are generally saved for those of us who are more "mature." However, younger patients are seeking mid and lower face lifts today.
  • Q2 :

    How is Face Lift performed?

  • The Face Lift operation is most frequently performed using General or Light Sleep Anesthesia.  After your arrival additional medications are given intravenously which induce a profound state of relaxation. Patients usually sleep during the operation.  Much of the time patients have very little memory of the operation itself.  After this state is achieved then medicines are given to produce numbness of the surgical area.  This type of anesthesia is most frequently preferred by patients. It causes almost no recovery necessary from the anesthetics themselves unlike general anesthesia which may produce nausea after the surgery.  It also carries less risk of complications.  If general anesthesia is preferred, this may also be used.

    This procedure takes about 2 to 6 hours to perform. It may take longer if you choose to have a neck lift as well. For procedures 3 hours or longer, many surgeons advise General anesthesia.  Depending upon your facial structure the incisions will be placed as inconspicuously as possible above the hairline.  Some doctors still cut at the hairline so ask your doctor which incisions he prefers.  The incisions usually begin above the hairline, at the temples, continuing in a natural line in front of the ear.  Some doctors can make the incisions with the cartilage just in the front-inside part of the ear, ending behind the earlobe and lower region of the scalp.

    The skin is separated from the fat and muscle below it. If the neck lift is being performed with the face lift, a small incision is placed inconspicuously underneath the chin and excess fat may removed by either trimming it by hand or by facial liposuction.  More than likely, your surgeon will use the facial liposuction technique.  The underlying muscle and fascia are tightened and the skin itself is pulled back, trimmed and sutured into place.  Sometimes surgical staples are used within the scalp. The surgeon may place a small drain tube behind your ears for excess fluid and blood drainage

  • Q3 :

    How long does a face lift last?

  • It is hard to say, but normally a face lift can last about 10 years. Of course, every case is individual and you will look younger regardless. This procedure can not stop you from aging but can lessen the appearance of your general sagginess and/or lines. Patients have shown up to a 7 to 12 year waiting period before choosing to undergo additional rejuvenation procedures.
  • Q4 :

    How long should I expect to be away from work?

  • You can expect to resume regular activities in about 3 weeks. It really is individual but the swelling is quite pronounced involving a facelift. There is bruising and of course a support will be worn at night to alleviate tissue stress and to support the healing tissues correctly. I wouldn't make any plans to attend any weddings or other functions where you will be high profile for at least 6 weeks.
  • Q5 :

    Is there a lot of swelling involved with a Face Lift?

  • You can expect considerable swelling at day three. Your face may look quite normal when you get home but the next day and the day after it will begin to swell. You may not recognize yourself, do not be alarmed, this will subside. In two weeks you will be delighted in the changes.
  • Q6 :

    What are the different techniques in performing a Face Lift?

  • There are older-style or standard "skin-only" face lifts that don't seem to last as long nor improve the appearance as much as a deep plane or 2 layer lift will. The deeper lifts involve lifting the SMAS (sub-muscular aponeurotic system - the facial muscles) which tightens the jowls, cheeks and the face in general.
  • Q7 :

    What are the risks of Face Lift?

  • There is a chance of hematoma (blood clots), numbness from nerve damage and hyperpigmentation (permanent discolorations) caused by the bruising. There may be asymmetry and/or undesired results resulting from a face lift. Possible infections may arise and scarring can be apparent depending on the incision placement. There can be necrosis of the facial fat and tissues resulting in tissue removal. If performed by an unskilled surgeon, it is very possible to have your skin pulled too tight and result in a very windswept look.
  • Q8 :

    What does a typical Face Lift consultation entail?

  • First off, your doctor will discuss your goals with you and he will explain what can be achieved realistically. Some patients may require a deep plane face lift involving the tightening of the inner muscular structure of the face. You should bring photos of yourself at an earlier age to determine your original facial look so the effect can be a natural one. Most patients don't want to wake up and not look like yourself once you heal. You just want to try and achieve a more 'pulled together' look; an attractive you at a younger age. Although, some of you may want to change the structure of your face altogether. Discuss with your surgeon the goals and general result you would like to achieve.
  • Q9 :

    What is a Face Lift?

  • The Face Lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure designed to improve the signs of the aging tightening the muscles beneath the skin of the neck, tightening the sagging skin itself, removing excess fat and overall improving the appearance; rejuvenating the face to its former youthful appearance. Post-operative patients agree that a face lift seems to take 10 years off of their appearance, easy.
  • Q10 :

    What should I expect post-operatively?

  • Although, there is normally no extensive pain related to the facelift operation, pain medication is prescribed before hand.  You may feel a degree of numbness that will normally disappear within a 1-3 months.

    Don't be alarmed at the presence of bruising and swelling.  This is very normal and you must realize that your skin and underlying tissues have been stretched, pulled and cut.  The swelling will begin to disappear within the first couple of weeks.  Many patients return to work with the help of camouflaging cosmetics at about 10 days post-op.

    Things to be alarmed about that are not normal:

    • Temperature elevation greater than 101 degrees
    • Sudden swelling or sudden discoloration
    • Hemorrhage
    • Increasing redness and tenderness of the wound edges indicating infection
    • Allergic reaction to drugs
  • Q11 :

    When is a Face Lift usually performed?

  • There is no usual age that a patient requests a face lift.   It can be from 30's to 80's. Although, a brow lift can work wonders for younger patients whose only complaint is horizontal lines on the forehead and sagging brows or slightly hooded eyes.  Brow lifts are often requested in the late 20's-early 30's category and up.  It is quite possible that a brow lift is all that is needed.

    However, A face lift can produce better results in those who are more mature or need extensive lifting and tightening or rejuvenation.  Seeking an entire lifting of the facial skin and/or structure to produce a more youthful and alert appearance.  You can discuss your available options with your surgeon to determine what is best for your individual case.

  • Q12 :

    When will I be able to see the results?

  • Having a facelift does not halt the effects of aging. You may choose to undergo a facelift again within 10 to 12 years. You will notice the tightening in your facial skin and muscle structure as soon as your swelling subsides. You do not want a severe "pulled back" look that is often seen in bad facelifts. This result is not normal and looks very done. Your face lift should lend alertness and vitality as in your youth. You will not look twenty or even thirty if you have a face lift at age 50. That is not the intention. However, you will agree that your appearance resembles a younger more relaxed version of you.
  • Q13 :

    When will the sutures be taken out and does this hurt?

  • The drain tube, if used, will be removed in approximately 2 to 3 days. Although your bandages may not be removed until about day 5. Your face will swell, and it appears at it's worse at day three. Your stitches may be removed the same day as your bandages; if surgical staples were used within the scalp area, they may be removed in 7 to 10 days.
  • Q14 :

    Will there be scarring? If so where will the scars be located?

  • Some scarring is necessary, usually hidden in the hairline, behind the ears or under the jaw line. The surgery is individual to your needs and your doctor can discuss with you the techniques that he uses. Endoscopic procedures involve tiny scars hidden in inconspicuous areas.