Unfortunately, our faces betray the first visible signs of aging. A cosmetic facelift or rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure to repair the effects of age on facial features. As we age, our skin loses elasticity or resilience that results in sagging and wrinkled skin. Eventually, the loose skin folds over the jaw line to create a heavy “jowly” appearance.
Additionally, deep creases can form between the mouth and nose, and folds can develop around the neck. Excessive fat deposits within these folds can increase their size, worsening the effect. A facelift can repair this damage and restore a “younger” look. Often, a facelift is accompanied with nose reshaping, a forehead lift or eyelid surgery.
Different facelift procedures serve to smooth face and neck skin and tighten the tissues and muscles underneath. A surgeon’s pre-operative assessment of facial skin structure – thickness, texture, and elasticity – and bone formation allows development of a plan that fit’s the patient’s goals and presents the least surgical risk.
Depending on the extent of the surgery and the patient’s wishes, a facelift may be performed under general anesthesia or with a local anesthetic. The facelift begins with incisions above the hairline at the temples and behind the ear. The surgeon may extend the incisions into the scalp. Next, the surgeon loosens the skin below the incisions.
Once the skin is free, fat tissue is surgically removed – lifted – from under the skin. Fat can also be removed, by liposuction, from the neck and jowls. Surgical muscle tightening may also be performed. Excess skin is removed or repositioned, and the incision closed with sutures. The surgeon may place a small drainage tube behind the ear to remove any fluids.
To reduce bruising and swelling, loose bandaging of the head will be necessary. Some patients may stay overnight or are able to go home after a few hours. Depending on the extent of surgery and a patient’s healing powers, home recovery time varies. Your surgeon will provide instructions for personal care of your dressing and can provide analgesics or other medications as needed.
Any drainage tube can be removed in a day or two. Usually, stitches or clips are removed after five days. After the first week, the healing process will allow use of concealing makeup. Discomfort from the procedure should be minimal. However, in some cases, a little swelling and numbness may last for several weeks. Surgical scars, hidden in the hairline, will fade. Often, the full effect of a facelift cannot be judged for one or more months.