Facelift

(415) 353-9500

In time, gravity, sun exposure, and the stresses of daily life take their toll on our faces and necks. Deep creases appear beside the mouth, jaw lines slacken and jowls appear, and the neck develops loose folds and fat deposits. Facelifts counteract these signs of aging by tightening muscle, removing fat, and trimming excess skin, giving your face a fresh, youthful look. After surgery, patients may look ten to fifteen years younger.

Facelifts, technically known as rhytidectomies (literally "removal of wrinkles"), rejuvenate the mid- to lower face and neck. Facelifts are most effective for patients who want to correct:

  • Midface sagging
  • Deep creases between the mouth and jaw (melolabial creases)
  • Jowls (sagging of fat and skin over the jawline)
  • Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw

Facelifts can produce a dramatic improvement in appearance for patients with the problems mentioned above. However, facelifts do not stop the aging process; in time, signs of aging will gradually appear once again.

Further, facelifts will not rejuvenate the brow, eyelids, nose, and some of the midface. Patients who want to improve these areas may consider combining a facelift with a cheek lift, brow lift or eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).

Injectable soft-tissue fillers and Botox®, facial implants and skin laser resurfacing can also enhance the effects of a facelift.

Candidates

The best candidates for rhytidectomy are those who wish to improve one or more of the signs of aging indicated above, are generally healthy and do not smoke. Facelifts are usually not performed for anyone younger than the age of 50, or beyond the age of 75. If you are planning on losing weight, this should occur prior to any facelifting surgery, as it will impair your result if weight loss occurs after the face has been tightened. During your consultation, Dr. Seth or Dr. Knott will discuss whether a facelift is a good option for you.

Procedure

Facelifts are typically outpatient procedures, but, for your safety, Drs. Seth and Knott recommend that you spend your first night with a nurse. Drs. Seth and Knott may recommend that you spend your first night in the hospital for careful monitoring. The procedure may be performed in a surgery center or hospital. Patients may have a choice of IV sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure takes about four to five hours.

The way a facelift is performed varies depending on the surgeon, the patient's facial structure, and the extent of correction desired. The three most common incision techniques are:

  • Traditional facelift: The "full" facelift for rejuvenating the face, jowls and neck, including fat sculpting, lifting and repositioning of muscle and deeper tissues, and skin trimming and redraping. The incision begins at the temples and travels down to the front of the ear, around the earlobe and behind the ear. Sometimes, another incision is made under the chin.
  • Limited-incision facelift (S-Lift): For patients with limited needs for rejuvenation, an S-lift may be a good option. Short incisions are made at the temples and around the ear. This permits elevation of the jowls and tightening of the neck, with removal of some redundant skin in front of the ear.
  • Neck lift: A neck lift concentrates on jowls, loose skin on the neck, and fat under the chin. The incision is made around the ear lobe and behind the ear to the lower scalp.

In all three methods, incisions are closed with stitches or tissue glue. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face.

Recovery

After your rhytidectomy, Dr. Seth or Knott will wrap the incisions in bandages and may place drainage tubes in the area. Your hair will be carefully washed at the end of the procedure. The tubes will be taken out the next day. You will be provided with an elastic compression dressing that you should wear for the next five days. You should be gentle with your skin and hair as you recover. You may shower two days following surgery. If surgical clips are used to hold the incisions closed, they will be removed one week after the facelift along with your stitches.

At first you may experience swelling, numbness, bruising, and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck. Your facial muscles may also feel stiff. Most of these issues usually resolve within two to three weeks, and sensation typically returns to normal within a few months.

Many patients return to work by the start of the third week.

To learn more about a facelift and whether or not this procedure is right for you, please call us today to schedule a consultation.