Am I a candidate for a face lift?
If you feel as if your skin is starting to sag around your jowls, your forehead, and elsewhere on your face, if you look tired when you are not, you may be a candidate for a face lift. A face lift can eliminate or improve deep wrinkles and jowls, but cannot remove fine lines and wrinkles. Other options to consider to refresh the look of your face include laser or chemical peel, which can remove fine lines and wrinkles and skin discolorations.
What is a face lift?
A face lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure that reduces the signs of aging by tightening the muscles beneath the skin of the neck, tightening the skin itself, and removing excess fat, all of which can provide an overall improvement to the appearance. You will end up looking younger and revitalized. Although a face lift cannot make someone in their 50s look like they were 20, it can make you look several years younger.
At what age is a face lift usually performed?
There is no "usual age" for a face lift. It can range anywhere from the 30's to the 80's. However, a face lift can produce better results in those who are more mature or need extensive lifting and tightening or rejuvenation. You should discuss the available options with your surgeon to determine what is best for your individual case.
What does a typical face lift consultation entail?
Your surgeon will discuss your goals with you and explain what can be achieved realistically for you with a face lift. You can bring photos of yourself at an earlier age to show your original facial look so that the surgeon has a good idea of what you want. Most patients want to achieve a more attractive, younger look without looking too different. Others may want a greater amount of change. Talk with your surgeon about your goals and the general result you want.
How is a face lift performed?
The procedure takes about 2 to 6 hours to perform, longer if a neck lift or other procedures are also being performed. The face lift operation is most frequently performed using general or light sleep anesthesia. Patients usually sleep during the procedure and awake with very little memory of the operation itself. Local anesthesia may also be administered to numb the surgical area itself.
The incisions will be placed as inconspicuously as possible within or above the hairline. They usually begin behind the hairline at the temples, and continue in a natural line in front of the ear. Some doctors make the incisions just in the front of the ear and curve around the bottom of the ear. The skin is separated from the fat and muscle below it. The underlying muscle and other tissue are tightened and the skin itself is pulled back, trimmed, and sutured into place. Sometimes, surgical staples are used instead of sutures.
Are there different techniques in performing a face lift?
Yes, there are several. There are "skin-only" face lifts that may be suitable for younger people with sagging facial skin and lifts that also rearrange the muscles and other tissue on the deeper planes of the face, which can provide more improvement. The "deeper" lifts involve lifting the SMAS (submuscular aponeurotic system - the facial muscles) which tightens the jowls, cheeks, and the face in general.
What should I expect postoperatively?
Although there is usually no excessive pain related to a face lift, you may experience some. You may also experience numbness in portions of the face, which usually disappears within a few months. Don't be alarmed by any bruising or swelling that occurs; this is very normal because your skin and underlying tissues have been stretched, pulled, and cut. Most swelling will begin to disappear within the first week and continue to dissipate gradually after that. Many patients return to work about 10 days postoperatively.
When will the sutures be taken out, and does this hurt?
Bandages and stitches are usually removed around 5 days after your surgery. If surgical staples were used within the scalp area, they may be removed in 7 to 10 days. Your face will be swollen and will usually appear at its worst around day 3.
Will there be scarring? If so, where will the scars be located?
Some scarring is to be expected. Scars are usually hidden in the hairline, behind the ears, or under the jaw line.
Is there a lot of swelling involved with a face lift?
Yes, you can expect swelling, especially by around day 3 after the surgery. Your face may look quite normal when you get home, but the next day and the day after it will begin to swell. You may not recognize yourself, but the swelling will gradually subside. You may be told to sleep with your head and shoulders elevated to help keep swelling to a minimum.
How long is the down time for this procedure; how long should I expect to be out of work?
You can go back to work about a week after your surgery, but you may still have some swelling and residual bruises. You can expect to resume regular activities in about 3 weeks. You might not want to attend any weddings or red carpet events for at least 6 weeks.
When will I be able to see the results?
You will notice the rejuvenation and improvement in your facial skin and muscle structure as soon as your swelling subsides. The final results will appear over several weeks after that.
What are the risks of face lift?
There are risks to every type of surgery. There is a chance of developing a hematoma (bad bruise or pocket of clotted blood), numbness from nerve damage and hyperpigmentation (permanent discolorations) caused by the bruising. Your face may be a bit asymmetrical. Infections and scarring are other possible risks. If your surgeon is not skilled, it is very possible your skin may be pulled too tight and you end up with a "too-tight" look.
How long does a face lift last?
It's hard to say, but the benefits of a face lift can last about 10 years. This procedure will not stop you from aging, but it can "reset the clock" and lessen the appearance of sagginess and lines.
Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute
3023 Hamaker Court
Fairfax, VA 22031
Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute
8650 Sudley Road
Manassas, VA 20110
George Washington University Hospital
2150 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC, DC 20037