A facelift (rhytidectomy) is a term used to describe a surgical procedure that enhances signs of aging in your neck or face by removing or repositioning skin, muscle, or fat (NHS.UK, 2022). Some of the issues that a facelift can address include:
- Sagging and relaxed skin on the face
- Drooping skin on the jaw or cheeks
- Deep crease or fold lines between the nose and corners of the mouth
- Extra fat and loose skin in the neck that makes it look like a double chin
- Facial fat that is lacking or is falling
Facelifts are cosmetic, therapeutic procedures and cannot essentially alter your looks or stop the aging process. Also, a facelift cannot treat irregular skin color, sun damage, or superficial wrinkles. These procedures are customized surgeries unique to the individual’s face and goals.
What to Expect During a Facelift Consultation
If you have decided to get a facelift, it is good to consult a surgeon to learn more about the procedure and what to expect (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2022). The visit will probably include:
- Medical Exam and History. Be ready to answer questions about current and past medical issues, alcohol or drug use, history of smoking, previous surgeries, and complications. Your surgeon will conduct a physical exam and might ask for current medical records or order a consultation with an expert if they doubt your ability to have the surgery.
- Medication Review. Give your doctor the name and dosages of any medications you regularly take, including dietary supplements, vitamins, herbal medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription drugs.
- Facial Exam. The plastic surgeon will photograph your face at different points and take close-up photos of certain features. They will also assess your bone structure, skin quality, fat distributions, and shape of your face to establish the best approach for facelift surgery.
- Expectations. The surgeon will want to know about your expectations of the procedure’s outcomes. They will help you understand how a facelift affects your appearance and what it cannot do.
Types of Facelifts
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there are different types of facelifts, which include:
- Mini Facelift. This is a modified form of the facelift that targets loose skin around the jawline and neck.
- Mid-facelift. This is also referred to as a cheek lift, and it concentrates on rectifying sagging skin from the eyes to the upper mouth. The target area includes the nose and cheeks.
- Nonsurgical facelift. This procedure does not need large incisions or anesthesia. However, it still addresses signs of aging, such as wrinkles, creases, and sagging skin. Thread lifts, liquid facelifts, and vampire facelifts are examples of nonsurgical procedures targeting skin on the face.
During the facelift consultation, you should communicate to your surgeon the area you would like him to work on, such as the lower face, rather than state a specific term for the procedure.
Which Type of Facelift is the Best?
Each type of facelift surgery is unique. Some target a specific area of the face, while others work on all or most face areas. A qualified surgeon can educate you on all facelift options and help you decide on the most suitable for you and your objectives.
Generally, the more excess or loose skin you have, the more complex the surgery will be. Your surgeon may recommend a traditional or complete facelift in such a case. If you only have early signs of aging or minimal skin looseness, they may opt for a less invasive procedure, such as a mini-facelift.
To produce a complete transformation, a facelift can be paired with other procedures, such as a brow lift or eyelid surgery. Again, it is essential to consult with a qualified surgeon to understand your options thoroughly.
Which is the Ideal Age to Get a Facelift?
Most people get a facelift from the age of 40 to 60 when they start seeing signs of aging. There is no ideal age to have the procedure as people age differently due to different reasons such as environment, lifestyle, and genetics. It is essential to remember that facelifts typically last 7-10 years. Some people have the procedure during their mid-40s and then get a second one in their 60s to update the facelift.
How to Prepare for a Facelift
Preparation for a facelift is the same as preparing for any other surgery. Before you have the procedure, your doctor will request a pre-surgical evaluation or blood work. You may be asked to adjust an existing dosage or stop taking some medications before the surgery (webMD.com, 2022). You may also be asked to:
- Apply certain products to the face before the surgery
- Stop smoking
- Stop taking herbal supplements, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and aspirin to minimize the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Have someone drive you to and from the hospital as the procedure is done under general anesthesia. It is good to arrange for a friend or family member to stay with you for a day or two after surgery.
Recovering from a Facelift; What to Expect?
After the surgery, you will experience facelift surgery swelling and bruising that will last for at least two weeks. Some patients heal slowly, while others heal more quickly. The bandages should come off a few days after the procedure. You will have to see your surgeon several times within the initial two weeks after surgery to examine your swelling and bruising and remove the stitches.
Finding a Plastic Surgeon
Health insurance often does not pay for a facelift because facelifts are perceived as cosmetic procedures. Ensure that your surgeon is certified to perform plastic surgery procedures by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This will ensure that specific education standards, best practices, and expertise are upheld (webMD.com 2022).
You can also ask for referrals from family members or friends. Ask if they had a good experience with their surgeon. Research and choose a surgeon you are uncomfortable with. Meet with more than one surgeon to get a second opinion as an informed decision is wise.