Facelift Recovery Questions: What to Expect After Facelift Surgery
Facelifts: What to Expect
Is your face making you look older than you feel? A facelift can improve your appearance. Learn what a facelift can do and how the surgery works.
By Madeline R. Vann, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Your age goes up, but it seems that everything else is sinking, especially your cheeks and neck. For at least ,000, you can have a facelift that might pull your sagging face back up into youth and beauty. And one recent study found that going under the knife could turn back the clock an average of seven years.
Plastic Surgery: Facelift
The technical term for a facelift is a rhytidectomy. A facelift can improve some of the visible symptoms of age, such as:
- Sagging in your cheeks.
- Creases by your eyes.
- Creases from corners of nose to corners of mouth.
- Loss of tone in the jaw.
- Loose skin under the chin and jaw (a false “double chin”).
"Patients who have jowls and skin excess under the chin are usually pleased after a facelift,” says Thomas Stevenson, MD, chief of the division of plastic surgery at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Calif. “Good candidates are patients who clearly understand the operation's goals and potential complications."
Stevenson says the best candidates for facelifts are also:
- Physically healthy.
- Those of normal weight (not obese).
If you suffer from a chronic disease, such as diabetes, or have other medical complications, you might not be able to have a facelift, although this determination will be made by the plastic surgeon.
Plastic Surgery and Facelift: Choosing the Right Plastic Surgeon
Finding a plastic surgeon with experience is key to getting a good result. Choose a surgeon who is board certified by the American College of Plastic Surgeons. You will also want to find out if the facility where the plastic surgery is performed is accredited. It’s okay to shop around until you find a plastic surgeon and a medical facility that you like. Since most insurance companies do not pay for facelifts or the complications that may occur during or after a facelift, it pays to be a savvy shopper.
Plastic Surgery: Preparing for a Facelift
You will meet with your plastic surgeon before scheduling a facelift to talk about your goals and learn what the surgery will be like. The surgeon will give exact instructions on how your should prepare for your facelift. And if you smoke: now is a wonderful time to quit. Smokers do not heal as quickly (or as well) as nonsmokers.
And, as what to expect in recovery depends very much on your individual situation (your general health, the type of surgery you have, etc.), talk with your doctor about what you should expect during the recovery process. This will allow you to plan accordingly, and set up any extra help you might need. This could include having someone drive you to and from the surgery, scheduling grocery deliveries, and even planning your menu in advance so you have enough of the right kinds of food to eat while you recover.
How Is a Facelift Performed?
There are several types of facelift procedures, depending on your goals and your situation. These include:
- Traditional facelift.Your plastic surgeon will make a series of cuts, called incisions, along the hairline and in front of your ears. This will allow for tightening the tissues that support your facial skin. The skin will be rearranged over your bone structure and any left-over skin will be removed. Some people will also have an incision under the chin. If you have a lot of excess fat in parts of your face, the surgeon may use liposuction to remove it.
- Limited incision facelift.Incisions close to your ear and temples will be used to tighten the skin.
- Neck lift.Incisions in front of and under your ear will be used to tighten skin on your neck and under your chin.
All of these surgeries are performed under general anesthetic (you are asleep and pain-free).
Plastic Surgery: Alternatives to Surgical Facelifts
There are no procedures that can accomplish the same result as a surgical facelift, but there are procedures and skin treatments that can keep your skin supple and reduce wrinkles and lines. Talk to a dermatologist and a plastic surgeon about these options. They include:
- Facial resurfacing procedures.
- Wrinkle injections (fillers).
Bottom line: If you decide to go the facelift route, know that while it can take several months for the swelling to go away and the incision marks to fade, the results tend to be more dramatic than what can be had with less invasive procedures. And no matter what procedure you decide upon, do your homework. Getting the right surgeon for the job is an important first step.
Video: Facelift Recovery Timeline: What to Expect & When You Can Return to Work
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