With age, the skin loses its natural elasticity, leading to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging facial tissues. In addition to thinning of the skin, gravity, sun damage, smoking, stress, hereditary factors, and loss of facial fat all contribute to an aged appearance. A cosmetic surgery procedure known as a facelift or rhytidectomy can lift and tighten the facial tissues, remove excess skin, and smoothen folds and wrinkles to reverse some of the visible signs of aging in the face and neck and restore a more youthful look. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about a full facelift surgery, including how to find the best board certified cosmetic surgeons in your area.
What is a full facelift?
A full facelift or rhytidectomy is a facial plastic surgery that is performed to improve the visible signs of aging in the face and neck, including sagging or loose skin, deep lines near the corner of the mouth, loss of volume due to reduced fat, development of jowls in the jaw and cheeks, and excess or loose skin in the chin and neck area resulting in a double chin or turkey neck.
A facelift focuses on the lower two-thirds of the face. It can be combined with a brow lift or eyelid surgery to address the signs of aging in the upper face. A full facelift can also be performed in combination with dermal fillers or fat transfer to replace lost volume. Your doctor may also suggest chemical peels, dermabrasion, IPL, or laser skin resurfacing along with a facelift to improve the texture and quality of your skin.
What can a facelift surgery do? What can't it do?
A facelift surgery is a highly customizable cosmetic procedure. It can reverse many of the common signs of aging and help you look younger and more rested. A facelift is a surgical procedure and the results are more dramatic than minimally invasive rejuvenation treatments. However, while a full facelift may turn back the clock, it cannot change your fundamental appearance or stop the aging process. Keep in mind that it is a restorative surgery. It is important to go in for a full facelift to feel good about yourself, not to meet someone else's ideals or fit any sort of image promoted by the media.
Am I a good candidate for facelift surgery?
People who are in good general health, are non-smokers, and have realistic expectations and a positive outlook are generally considered good candidates for full facelifts.
What to expect during a facelift consultation?
At the time of your initial facelift consultation, your facial plastic surgeon will discuss your aesthetic goals. They will also review your medical history, surgical history, medications, and allergies. You should give your surgeon a complete medical history and list of your medications, including over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, and dietary supplements. This is important to properly assess your risk from full facelift surgery.
Your plastic surgeon will examine and measure your face and take photos for comparison before and after facelift surgery. They will discuss facelift options, including a mini facelift which is less invasive than a full facelift. The surgeon will also discuss the expected outcome and the potential risks and complications of facelift surgery with you.
During the consultation, you will have a chance to ask questions. A key factor in obtaining good results from a facelift is understanding the various aspects of the surgery. It's normal to be a little nervous but also excited about your new look. Don't hesitate to discuss any concerns with your cosmetic surgeon.
How do I prepare for a facelift?
Your plastic surgeon may ask you to get some lab tests done in preparation for a facelift. They may also adjust the dose of some of your medicines, stop some medicines temporarily that can increase the risk of bleeding, and give you some medicines to reduce the risk of infection. You may also receive some products to apply to the face before your surgery. You will need to stop smoking for at least 2-4 weeks before and after your facelift. Also, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for a day or two after your facelift.
What happens during a facelift procedure?
At the start of the surgery, your surgeon will give you medicines to keep you comfortable. A full facelift can be done under general anesthesia (you will be asleep during the procedure) or with intravenous sedation.
Once you are under anesthesia, the surgeon will make incisions in the facial skin. The type of incisions will depend on the degree of change you desire from your facelift. A traditional facelift incision usually starts at the hairline, extends to the temples, curves behind the ear, and finishes in the lower scalp. If you are having a neck lift as well, a second incision will be made under the chin.
The surgeon will trim excess skin and fat and sculpt and redistribute fat and tissue to contour your face. During a full facelift, deeper tissues and muscles are also lifted and repositioned. At the end of the surgery, the doctor will close the incisions with either dissolvable sutures or sutures that need to be removed in the office a few days later. Medical-grade surgical glues are also available to seal the incisions closed. The incisions of a traditional facelift are well concealed and blend into the natural contours of the face.
What to expect after a facelift?
After your facelift, you might have a bandage on your face to minimize bruising and swelling. Your surgeon may leave small tubes called drains in place to remove any excess fluid or blood from the surgical site. You will see visible improvement in your face once the swelling and bruising subsides. The recovery time for a full facelift is 10-14 days, after which most patients feel comfortable going out in public. However, it can take up to 3 months of recovery time for the face to feel normal in terms of tightness, texture, and sensation. You can prolong the results of your facelift by practicing good sun protection.
Your facial cosmetic surgeon will give you specific instructions on caring for the incisions and drains. You may receive some oral medications as well as topical creams and ointments to apply. Your surgeon will also tell you the signs and symptoms of complications that warrant a call to the plastic surgery office. They will tell you when to return for a follow-up appointment. It's important to follow all post-surgical instructions to get the best results from your facelift.
What's the difference between a mini facelift and a traditional facelift?
A mini facelift is a less invasive technique that involves shorter incisions than traditional facelift procedures. However, while the incision is shorter, the results of a mini facelift are also less dramatic and less rejuvenating than a full facelift. For this reason, surgeons typically recommend a mini facelift to patients with less severe signs of aging.
It is worth noting that neither full facelift nor mini facelift procedures address fat collections under the chin (double chin), loose skin in the neck (turkey neck), or loose, sagging skin at the jawline (jowls). A neck lift can be performed at the same time as a traditional facelift or mini facelift to address these concerns.
How long does a full facelift last? Does it permanently reverse signs of aging?
Facelift results are not permanent. This is because as you continue to age, your skin will become thinner and sag again. In general, you can expect a facelift to last around 10 years, perhaps a little less if you get a mini facelift.
Are there any risks or side effects of facelift surgery?
A facelift is an elective plastic surgery. The decision to undergo it is an extremely personal one. You should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of a facelift surgery with your board certified plastic or cosmetic surgeon. It is possible to achieve your aesthetic goals with this surgery; however, it does carry some risks of complications.
When performed by an experienced surgeon, facelift complications are rare, but can include bleeding, infection, anesthesia risks, heart and lung complications, deep vein thrombosis (clot formation in a vein), hematoma/seroma (blood or fluid collection), facial nerve injury, numbness, changes in sensation, poor wound healing, skin discoloration, temporary or permanent hair loss, prolonged pain and swelling, undesirable scarring, and unsatisfactory facelift results.
Your surgeon will discuss all these risks with you at the time of obtaining surgical consent. Do not hesitate to ask questions at this time and make sure you understand all aspects of the procedure.
What is the average cost of a full facelift?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a full facelift costs $8,000 on average. The cost of a facelift can vary greatly depending on where you live and the skill of your surgeon. A mini facelift typically costs less than a full facelift. When you get a quote from the plastic surgery office, do note whether the final fee includes costs such as hospital or surgical facility costs, anesthesia costs, prescription medications, post-surgical garments, medical tests, followup appointments, etc. Your surgeon may offer a financing plan if the cost of the surgical procedure is not something you can afford upfront.
How to find a plastic surgery provider for a full facelift?
A facelift procedure requires a very high level of surgical skill to ensure it is performed with safety and the results are as expected by the patient without complications. The MeTime app makes it easy to find a board certified plastic surgeon in the US who is registered with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a surgeon registered with The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons in the UK, and surgeons registered with similar organizations worldwide that promote excellence in aesthetic surgery. Through the MeTime app, you can chat with experts, send photos across, do a video consult, and book your office consultation when you're ready. Can't wait to find out more about facelift procedures? Download the MeTime app today.