What is a facelift?
As we age, our skin and deeper muscular tissue lose their elasticity and native youthful position. A facelift is an outpatient surgical procedure designed to elevate and tighten these facial and neck tissues that have fallen and loosened over time. There are many variations of facelifting ranging from minimal incision lifts for minor changes, to more extensive neck and face lifting for more dramatic results. Some of the most common issues addressed with facelifting include:
- Platysmal banding (neck muscle bands)
- Submental fat and skin laxity (turkey neck)
- Jowling, or excess skin along the jaw line
- Deep nasolabial folds (smile lines)
Who is a candidate?
Patients who may benefit from a facelift include those concerned about aging changes of the mid to lower face and neck, excess skin, or sunken cheeks. There are numerous factors to be considered when thinking about the correct procedure for you, including skin type, neck and facial bone structure, as well as fat distribution within the neck and face. Patients must be able to come off blood-thinning medications for 2 weeks, and healthy enough for a general anesthetic, although some variations of this procedure can be done under lighter sedation.
What does facelift procedure involve?
Facelift surgery is best tailored to meet each individual patient’s needs. There are several types including but not limited to:
- Mini facelift is best suited for patients who need minor lifting. It helps elevate and tighten the cheek. Involves a small incision hidden around the ear. This technique has shorter recovery, but is not suited for making changes to the jawline or lower neck.
- Deep plane (extended) facelift is an expanded lift that has the ability to treat the jawline, neck, and sunken cheeks in one procedure. The incision is hidden around the ear and hairline. Both the skin and deeper tissues are elevated and tightened in a more youthful position. When addressing the neck and submental region, conservative liposuction is done to obtain a better contour.
- Neck Lift is a similar approach to a standard facelift, but with minimal dissection into the facial tissues. This procedure is designed to establish a smooth contour of the neck muscles and tighten the skin simultaneously.
- Midface lift is often done through a lower blepharoplasty incision. It is done to get a more vertical lift to the cheek. It is generally best suited for patients with a low cheek fat pad, and who would also benefit from lower eyelid skin and fat pad correction at the same time.
In addition to the multiple variations on facelifting, adjunctive procedures are often combined with this procedure to maximize results. Facial fat grafting, laser resurfacing, and submental liposuction are some examples of procedures often used to augment facelifting results.
What is recovery like?
Recovery time is different for every patient, and also differs depending on extent of surgery.
A mini-lift (for younger patients) has around 1 week of downtime, with minimal swelling and bruising. A deeper facelift for patients with more advanced aging changes may have some swelling and bruising for longer. Follow-up is frequent early on to make sure that you recover optimally from your surgery. The sutures come out at 1 week. Pain and discomfort are usually quite tolerable after this procedure.