As we age, the effects of gravity, sun exposure and daily stresses can be seen in our faces. A facelift can improve the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles and re-draping the skin of your face and neck.
Who’s a Candidate?
The best candidate is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well defined.
What are the Risks?
Complications are usually infrequent and minor. They can include, however, hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin), nerve injury in the facial muscles, infection and reactions to anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers. Psoriasis may occur which resolves within 3 to 6 months.
Preparing for Surgery
If your hair is very short, you might want to let it grow out before surgery so it can hide scars while they heal. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery.
Most facelifts are done on an outpatient basis, under local or general anesthesia. The procedure lakes several hours; for more extensive procedures, the surgeon may schedule two separate sessions.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear) and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.
The surgeon then separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The underlying muscle and membrane is then tightened and the excess skin is removed. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions. Metal clips may be used on the scalp.
After Your Surgery
Following the surgery, a small, thin tube may be placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that collects. Your head may also be loosely bandaged to minimize swelling and bruising. The drainage tube will be removed a day or two after surgery. Bandages are usually removed after one to five days. Some numbness of the skin is normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months. Your face may remain pale, bruised and puffy for several weeks. Most stitches will be removed after five days. Because your scalp may take longer to heal, the stitches or metal clips may be left in your hairline for a few more days. You should be up and about in a day or two, but should especially be gentle with your face and hair. Avoid alcohol, steam baths and saunas for several months.