A face-lift, or rhytidectomy, is a procedure that reduces sagging or folds of skin at the cheeks and jawline. The typical patient presents with wrinkles, or fat that has drooped to a lower position on the face, or excess of both skin and fat in the face. A face-lift can improve several areas of the face, jawline, and part of the neck at the same time, to give you a firmer and younger appearance.
If you have a lot of neck skin or fatty excess, you may require an additional
neck lift procedure through a separate neck incision to further tighten and improve your neck appearance. Your surgeon may also recommend other procedures at the same time to address other aged features of your face, such as
eyelid surgery, a
filler injection, or fat grafting.
A face-lift will not decrease fine creases, wrinkles or pigmentation in your skin. These require other cosmetic procedures to address the appearance and quality of your skin (non-surgical procedures).
A face-lift is usually performed under general anaesthesia, or local anaesthesia with sedation. A hospital stay of at least one night may be recommended for observation after surgery.
The location and extent of the incisions required will depend on the degree of skin and fatty excess that you have. In general, the incision will start at your temples in the hairline, continue down and around the front of your ears, then extends backwards behind your ears into your lower scalp. Longer incisions are required for greater degrees of facial and neck skin excess.
Through these incisions, the layers of the face will be separated to allow elevation and tightening. The underlying fat in the face and neck may be sculpted, removed, or redistributed. The facial and neck skin will then be re-draped to give a smoother, rejuvenated look. Excess skin will be removed and the wound closed with stitches. Surgical drains may be placed to remove excess fluid after surgery.
Pain, swelling and bruising are expected after surgery and will improve over the first couple of weeks. During this time, painkillers and antibiotics will be prescribed to control the pain and minimise the risk of infection. A compression garment or cold compression will be recommended after the surgery to help to reduce the swelling. Sleeping with your head raised higher than your chest for a few days will also help the swelling to settle faster. If drains are used, they will be removed in a few days once there is little fluid draining out. Sutures will be removed between 5 to 10 days after surgery.
Hair washing and showering can be done 2 to 3 days after surgery but with extreme care. Do not let chemicals enter the suture lines and avoid hair dryers. Dab drying should be performed. Avoid blood thinning agents such as aspirin for at least 2 weeks unless advised otherwise. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least 2 to 3 weeks. Aim for a graduated return to normal activities. Your surgeon will advise you when you can resume normal activities.
You can expect to experience some numbness around your ear lobes, face, and neck for several weeks after surgery. Early on, the scars will appear red and be firm, but soften and fade slowly over time. Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible for the first month as this can cause the scars to darken permanently. It takes about one year for the scar to achieve its final appearance.
The results of a successful face-lift can be long lasting. However, they will not be permanent as your will naturally continue to age over time.
As with any major surgery, face-lift carries risks such as:
You may need to undergo an additional surgery to correct some of these problems.
The subject of risks, as well as potential complications of surgery are best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon. Smokers are at higher risk of complications and smoking should be completely stopped at least 2 to 4 weeks before surgery.