Our face is our most visible feature, one that through expression and appearance conveys what and how we feel. Facial aging includes a loss of skin elasticity and firmness, sagging tissue and wrinkles. These visible signs of aging can greatly impact how we feel about ourselves and how others see us. Even a person who is energetic and excited about life can appear tired or sad due to aging in the midface, jawline and neck.
Who is a Facelift Candidate?
If you are bothered by the signs of aging in your face, a facelift may be right for you. In general, a facelift corrects sagging facial skin, removes excess fat and restores firmness.
Look for sagging in the midface that creates a deep crease below the lower eyelid (called a tear trough) and between the nose and mouth. This sagging may make you appear tired and sad. As we age, the firmness of our facial muscles and the placement of fat cells can change. If those fat cells have fallen and you have lost muscle tone in the lower face, you may notice jowls forming (a jaw line that sags into the neck). 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.”
What is a Facelift?
A facelift is designed to correct all of those aging features, restoring a more youthful, rested appearance with uplifted contours and improved tone in facial skin. Where desired improvement can be isolated to the midfacial region and where excess skin is a factor, a limited incision or mini lift may be an alternative to a traditional or standard lift.
As a restorative surgery, a facelift does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the aging process. Although you will continue to age naturally, aging will progress from the more youthful version of you that has been restored by a facelift. Rejuvenation procedures typically performed in conjunction with a facelift are brow lift and eyelid surgery.
How is a Facelift Performed?
Your surgeon will evaluate your skin, muscle and bone structure and the specific conditions that contribute to your aging appearance. These factors are the most significant considerations in determining the appropriate technique or combination of procedures to best achieve your goals.
For a traditional facelift, incisions often begin in the hairline at the temples, continue around the ear and end in the lower scalp. Fat may be sculpted or redistributed and underlying tissue repositioned. Skin is redraped over the uplifted contours and excess skin is trimmed away. A second incision under the chin may be necessary to further improve an aging neck.
Initial healing will include swelling and may include numbness and discomfort that can be controlled with medication. Your skin will likely look bruised or discolored. In addition, facial movements may be temporarily restricted.
You will need to keep your head elevated at all times until initial swelling has subsided. You will be provided specific postoperative instructions including cleansing of your face and hair. A return to light, normal activity is usually possible within a few days of surgery.
For the most part, facelift incisions are well healed within a week. You will be ready to return to work and light, normal activity sometime between 2 to 4 weeks. Healing will continue for at least several more weeks as swelling subsides and incision lines continue to improve. It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate and up to 6 months for incision lines to mature, and you must practice careful sun protection until the healing is complete.
What Results Can I Expect?
Once healed, the incision lines are well concealed within the hairline and in the natural contours of the face and ear. The natural contours of your face will be more visible and enhanced by the procedure, giving you a rejuvenated, youthful appearance. Most patients find that the benefits of their facelift results are long-lasting, even as they continue to age.