Facelift surgery results can look natural and refreshing. Aging of the facial tissue can make a person appear tired or even unhappy when they feel optimistic and energetic. If your facial appearance does not match your sense of self, you might consider exploring facial surgery. Facelifts allow for replacement of lost cheek and jowl tissue from the midface and can remove excess skin in the neck. Sometimes a person has been maintaining their facial appearance with a skin care routine and possibly Botox and/or filler treatments, but tissue sag and neck laxity continue to bother them daily.
Facelift surgery is a very personal decision. Most people want to look like themselves after facial surgery but more refreshed with softening of the changes associated with aging. It is worrisome to think you might look different in your face; the place family and friends first look when they see you. Fortunately, there are new improved techniques and better understanding of the face structure available to plastic surgeons – providing the opportunity to give more natural facelift results.
- Facelift Surgery Options
- Facelift Surgery Goals
- Facelift Surgery Incisions
- Facelift Procedure and Recovery
- Follow-up After Surgery
- At Your Consultation
Facelift Surgery Options
Most often facelift surgery refers to correction of the sagging tissue in the face and the skin looseness of the neck. As techniques have become more sophisticated, several options are available. However, the most common procedure includes elevating or raising the tissue of each side of the face, on top of the muscles but under the skin, to sit higher near the cheek bone. By repositioning the tissue upward against gravity, the jowls disappear and the cheeks are fuller. This elevation upward, also often combined with repositioning extra central loose neck skin toward the back of the neck and behind the ear, improves the appearance of the neck. Excess skin is removed without pulling or tension placed on the skin itself. This allows for a natural result.
It is possible to address the loose skin of the neck with a necklift alone. While a necklift will not improve the cheek and jowl area, it can significantly improve the contour of the neck by tightening the muscles through an incision under the chin and removing the extra skin with an incision behind the ear. Any excess fatty tissue can also be removed to improve the appearance of the neck
An additional option used frequently now is the use of one’s own fat tissue to enhance the results of facelift surgery. The fat, carefully prepared, adds natural, youthful volume to the cheek and eyelid area. Additional fat injections can soften the folds beside the nose (nasolabial folds) and lines that develop around and below the corners of the mouth.
Dr. Baldwin may recommend additional procedures for the face including eyelid surgery or a brow lift to complement the facelift results.
Facelift Surgery Goals
The goals of facelift and necklift surgeries are to look natural and refreshed with the loose skin removed. Your own natural facial tissue is repositioned upward to create fullness in the cheek area, remove sagging in the jowl and mouth area, and soften the folds on either side of the nose. Because the pull is on the connective tissue above the muscles not on the skin, the face does not look “tight”. Although the effects of gravity continue, your face continues to age in a manner that appears more youthful and rested. Significant improvement in the fullness and looseness of the neck can improve confidence and make a person look younger.
Fortunately, there are contours on the side of the face that help camouflage the incisions of the facelift. The top of the incision can be hidden in the hair above the top of the ear. Usually an incision is made in front of the ear in the groove and travels behind the tragus or the prominence on the inner side of the external ear. Because there is no pulling on the skin itself, the small amount of scar that shows often heals so nicely that patients can wear their hair behind their ear or in a short hair style without concern. The remainder of the incision curves around the lobe of the ear and rests in the concave area behind the ear. Very rarely the incision does cross the skin behind the ear to go into the hair. An additional incision under the chin allows access to tighten the muscle tissue of the neck to improve the neck contour.
Under the skin are sutures that hold and reposition the tissue over the muscles into the cheek area making a fuller and more youthful cheek appearance. These deeper stitches also tighten the loose tissue in ways that reverse hollowing under the cheek by moving the sagging jowl tissue into that hollow area. Stitches are placed in the muscles of the neck to tighten the looser contour of the neck.
Facelift Procedure and Recovery
Facelift procedures are performed at an accredited, outpatient surgical center connected to a hospital or at a full-service hospital. Facelift patients are required to stay overnight in the hospital to minimize movement right after surgery and decrease swelling and bruising. Professional nursing personnel are there to help you during the night of surgery, keeping you comfortable and being available to answer questions.
Facelift surgery is typically not painful but there is a sensation of tightness especially in the neck area. Drains are placed over night and removed early the next day by Dr. Baldwin when she comes to visit you at the hospital. The head of the bed is elevated to decrease swelling. The greatest opportunity to minimize bruising occurs that first night by letting the nursing staff help you remain comfortable and still.
Since bruising limits your return to normal interaction with family and friends, every effort is made to decrease this. Ice is usually not used on the face but a light gauze wrap provides comfort. Dr. Baldwin will tell you about your results from surgery when she visits you in the hospital the next morning and the gauze wrap will be changed. You will be ready to leave for home late morning the day after surgery.
It is safest to not drive for 10 days after facelift surgery especially if your neck feels tight and makes it difficult to quickly turn your head to assess traffic. Many patients can go out for light errands one week after surgery after their stitches have been removed. It is possible to return to work at two weeks using make-up to hide any remaining light bruising.
Follow-up After Surgery
Natural, long-lasting results are facilitated by close postoperative follow-up care. Facelift patients are given clear, written instructions and seen by Dr. Baldwin at the hospital the day following your procedure. Thereafter, patients are then seen at our office at week one, week three, week six, three months, six months and annually. It is important to know there are no additional charges for these important follow-up visits. Closely following the instructions given at the early visits help the patient understand how to best heal from surgery. Our office is always available to see prior facelift patients for concerns that might arise in the future.
At Your Consultation
New information is continually being explored for facelift options. Dr. Baldwin is interested in discussing all your questions and sharing her opinion and experience on the newest techniques for face and necklifts during your consultation. Face and necklifts continue to be two of the most popular elective plastic surgery procedures in the nation.