If there is one cosmetic surgery most people are familiar with, it is the facelift. The facelift, formally known as a rhytidectomy, is a classic surgical anti-aging procedure that can produce dramatic, comprehensive results for patients who want long-term facial rejuvenation. The basic concept of the facelift is simple: to lift and tighten the facial tissues for a refreshed, rejuvenated, and more youthful appearance. Facelifts can be used to address many signs of aging, including wrinkling, sagging skin, changes to facial contour and facial volume loss
Facelifts are much more complex and versatile than most people realize, however. The procedure can be completely customized to suit each patient's needs and address specific concerns. The facelift is actually made up of a combination of facial surgeries that work together to create the desired results. The classic facelift is comprised of a lower facelift and a neck lift, in order to tighten the lower two-thirds of the face and any jowls that may have appeared at the jaw from sagging skin.
Everyone ages at a different rate, and what works well for one patient may not be appropriate for everyone. Variations on the facelift include the mini facelift and the mid facelift. The mini lift is a less invasive version of the classic facelift, but the results are not as dramatic as a traditional facelift. Mini lifts are best for younger patients or for those with mild to moderate signs of aging. The mid facelift concentrates on the cheek and lower eyelid area. This procedure is excellent for deep nasolabial folds (the lines running between the mouth and nose) and is appropriate for patients with hollowing under the eyes and sagging cheeks. Neither a mini nor a mid facelift treat the neck area. If there is neck laxity, a full facelift (which includes the neck lift) will be required.
Your first step in the facelift process is scheduling a consultation at our Atlanta office with our expert cosmetic surgeons. Because the facelift is a highly customized procedure, the consultation will provide an opportunity for you to discuss your needs for facial rejuvenation and work toward creating a surgical plan that will give you beautiful results, addressing your specific needs. During your consultation, our surgeons will assess your medical history and facial aging. You will get the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, and you will get more information on the surgery and recovery process. Consultations are an essential part of the planning phase, as they allow you to get to know your surgeon and ensure you are both on the same page about the goals for the surgery.
There is no age limit for facelift surgery, but the procedure is most popular among people age 40 and up, as this is the age when facial aging often goes from minor to moderate. Good candidates for facelift surgery are in good health, have moderate to advanced signs of aging, such as wrinkles and sagging skin, and have realistic expectations for their results. Prospective facelift patients must also be non-smokers and not be taking certain medications, such as blood thinners. Patients with good skin elasticity tend to experience better results than patients whose skin is extremely lax. Our plastic surgeons will assess your candidacy during your consultation to be sure facelift surgery is a good choice for you.
Because the facelift is such an in-depth procedure, the process itself is quite lengthy, and performed under general anesthesia for patient safety and comfort. Facelift surgery typically takes 4-6 hours to complete, however, this is reduced for less extensive facelifts, such as a mini lift. There is much more to a facelift than skin tightening, which makes the surgery far more complex than people realize.
Based on a patient's individual needs, a facelift procedure includes repositioning of the layers of the face to hold them in an elevated position, reduction of fat in certain areas, and addition of volume in others. Depending on the type of facelift being performed, the incisions will be hidden in and around the hairline and contours of the ears. Over the last several years, this combination of lifting and volume restoration has been key in producing results that are more dramatic and natural appearing compared to the "pull only" techniques of the past.
The facelift procedure involves a long and deep incision, and requires extensive healing, due to the amount of tissue manipulation involved. Facelift patients need to be prepared to take 2-3 weeks off for initial healing. Sutures are removed 7-14 days post-operatively, but swelling and bruising fades gradually. After the initial few weeks, normal activities can slowly be resumed, with certain restrictions. Residual swelling will fade slowly over time, and final results should be apparent at about 6 months following surgery.
During the first few weeks, patients may experience significant discomfort, but this can be controlled with prescribed pain medication. Patients will receive detailed instructions on pre- and post-operative care. Though the healing process can be arduous, most patients find that the inconvenience is worth the beautiful results they will enjoy.
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