A face-lift (rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the look of your face and neck.
During a face-lift, facial soft tissues are lifted, excess skin is removed and skin is draped back over the newly repositioned contours. A neck lift (platysmaplasty) is often done as part of a face-lift.
You might choose to have a face-lift if your facial skin is beginning to droop — a common occurrence with aging. A face-lift might also boost your self-confidence.
A face-lift, however, won't affect the quality of your facial skin. If you have wrinkles or sun damage, you might also consider a skin-resurfacing procedure. A face-lift can be done in combination with some other cosmetic procedures, such as a brow lift or eyelid surgery.
During a face-lift, facial soft tissues are lifted, excess skin is removed and skin is draped back over the newly repositioned contours. Incisions can be made in the hairline starting at the temples, ...
Why it's done
As you get older, your facial skin changes — sagging and becoming loose. This can make the lower part of your face appear rectangular in shape. A face-lift can give your face a more youthful heart-like shape.
You might consider a face-lift if:
A face-lift isn't a treatment for superficial wrinkles, sun damage, creases around the nose and upper lip, or irregularities in skin color.
A face-lift poses various risks, including:
Like any other type of major surgery, a face-lift poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
A face-lift isn't for everyone. Your doctor might caution against a face-lift if you:
How you prepare
Initially, you'll talk to a plastic surgeon about a face-lift. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
Before a face-lift you might also need to:
What you can expect
A face-lift can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.
During the procedure
Your doctor might use one or more of the following techniques:
After making the incisions, your doctor will sculpt or redistribute fat from your face, jowls or neck and redistribute the underlying tissues. He or she might also use a suction technique to remove fat (liposuction). In some cases fat suctioned from other areas of your body might need to be added to specific areas of your face.Your skin will then be draped over the new contours and excess skin will be removed. Stitches or tape will be used to close the incisions.
A face-lift generally takes two to four hours but might take longer if other cosmetic procedures are done at the same time.
After the procedure
In the first few days after a face-lift:
Avoid drinking alcohol — which can cause blood vessels to widen and lead to bleeding — for at least two weeks.
Ask your doctor when it's OK to resume daily activities, such as washing and drying your hair, bathing and other routine physical activities.
You'll probably see your doctor the day after your face-lift. The doctor will likely remove your drainage tube, apply antibiotic ointment to your incisions and place new bandages on your face. Two to three days after your face-lift, you'll likely be able to switch from wearing bandages to an elasticized facial sling.
Your doctor will likely remove your stitches during separate visits within five to 14 days after your face-lift. He or she will also carefully check your incisions for ingrown hairs, which need to be removed to prevent infection and inflammation.
Your incisions will crust as they begin to heal. Don't pick at the crusts.
You might prefer to remain home while you're recovering from a face-lift. A week after your face-lift, you can begin using makeup to the edge of your scars to conceal any redness or bruising. Avoid unprotected sun exposure until your scars are no longer pink.
After a face-lift, contact your doctor immediately if you have:
By smoothing loose skin, a face-lift can give your face and neck a more youthful appearance.
Women typically achieve better results after a face-lift than do men. This is because men have thicker facial skin and larger parotid glands — a type of salivary gland located in the cheeks — than do women. As a result, men's cheeks might still appear full after a face-lift.
Keep in mind that face-lift results aren't permanent. As you age your facial skin might begin to droop again. Sun damage can also age your skin.
Last Updated: 2012-08-16
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