Face Lift surgery, or Rhytidectomy, is an operation designed to remove the major folds or wrinkles of the face and neck, which naturally occur with aging. It may be combined with an eyelid operation (blepharoplasty) that addresses the aging process in the eyelids or a forehead lift to address loose skin in the forehead and brow.
How is the facelift surgery performed?
Every surgeon approaches the procedure in his or her own way.
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, the surgeon 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.
Will the facelift surgery result in permanent scarring?
The scars from face lift surgery usually fade and are barely perceptible. In some patients, especially younger ones, endoscopic surgery can be used to lift the eyebrows, remove frown lines, elevate the cheek and jowls, and tighten the neck. This endoscopic surgery can be done with tiny scars. However, if there is excessive skin, it must be removed for the best results through standard face lift incisions.
How long does the facelift procedure take?
The operation generally takes three and half to four hours or longer if you're having more than one procedure done. After a suitable recovery period, you can go home with a family member or responsible adult. If you have other procedures done at the same time, or if you have no one to be with you at home, it may be wiser to stay in the hospital overnight.
How long is the recovery time for facelift?
Generally one should allow at least three weeks after a face lift before resuming full social activity and employment. It is possible that, with modest makeup, you will be able to return to activity much sooner. We suggest that three weeks be available for recuperation.
How can I hide things during the time until I return to normal?
Your surgeon will discuss post-operative camouflage techniques with you prior to your surgery, but be assured that while almost everyone has some sort of temporary side effect such as bruising and swelling, there are makeup techniques that both men and women can use almost immediately to disguise them. Generally speaking, makeup techniques can be used soon after surgery to cover discolorations, and to hide incision lines after the stitches have been removed and the incision is completely closed. Camouflage cosmetics include three basic types of products: concealers to hide incision lines and discolorations; contour shadows to disguise swelling; and color correctors to neutralize color in reddened skin.
Color correctors disguise yellowish discolorations or the pinkness that follows chemical peel and dermabrasion. Lavender neutralizes or removes yellow, and green has a similar effect on red. It will take a little patience and practice to master camouflage techniques, but most post-op patients feel it's well worth the effort.
Am I a good candidate for Rhytidectomy?
The best candidate for a face lift 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 face lifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.
A face lift 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 your surgeon.
Since face lifts are very individualized procedures, your surgeon will evaluate your face, skin and underlying bone, and discuss your goals for the surgery.
Your surgeon should 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 your surgeon if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
Specific instructions will be given by your surgeon on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly. If you smoke, it's especially important to stop at least a week or two before and after surgery; smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin, and can interfere with the healing of your incision areas.
If your hair is very short, you might want to let it grow out before surgery so that it's long enough to hide the scars while they heal.
Whether your face lift is being done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two if needed.
A bandage is wrapped about the face and head/neck area for approximately 24 to 48 hours. This may be replaced with a smaller one for an additional day. Keep your head and chest elevated on at least two to three pillows at all times. Sleep on your back rather than your side. (Sleeping on your side will cause you to become more swollen on that side.)
A certain amount of swelling, discoloration, of the facial skin is normal for 10 to 14 days, but major discomfort is unusual. Some numbness of the cheek and neck will be noted for several weeks. This is not unusual and does not indicate a complication. It returns to normal after several weeks. This numbness will not affect facial expression or motion.
The sutures are removed in stages and are usually all out in approximately 8 to 10 days. If you've had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Avoid driving for at least one week after surgery. Avoid high impact exercise for one month after surgery. If you are a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least three to four weeks.
You should remain in the Honolulu area for one week after your operation. Any abnormalities or questions should be reported to us at once.