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Facelift Surgery

Facelift Procedure by Dr. AndersonIf 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.

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Facelift Consultation

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.

Facelift Candidates

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.

Facelift Procedure

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.

Facelift Recovery

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.

Video FAQs:

Facelift FAQs

What is a “weekend” facelift?

A popular term for a mini facelift, the “weekend” facelift is a less intensive procedure that may refer to a surgery that does not involve manipulation of the facial muscles, or a deeper procedure in just one area of the face. The theory is that these gentler procedures can involve a recovery period of just one weekend, allowing patients to return to work the following week. In reality, everyone recovers at a different rate and should take as much time as necessary to heal properly.

Does a facelift cause hair loss?

While our cosmetic surgeons try to minimize trauma during the surgery, the stress of the procedure and the incisions made in the hairline can sometimes result in temporary hair loss at the incision site. Hair will grow back gradually in the months following surgery.

Will the results look natural?

Many patients are worried about looking “overdone” or unnatural following a facelift, but this is certainly not the goal surgeons have for the procedure. Today, cosmetic surgery is designed to be as custom and natural-looking as possible, and surgeons are careful to avoid mistakes like over-tightening the skin, which can lead to an unnatural appearance.

How long do the results last?

The traditional facelift does not stop the aging process altogether, but it can slow it down considerably. Eventually, aging will take over again, but facelift patients typically notice marked improvement for years after surgery. In fact, some patients will enjoy the results of a facelift for 8-10 years or more.

Is a non-surgical facelift an option?

While there are some non-surgical options for facial rejuvenation, nothing can quite reach the results of a facelift with our surgeons in Atlanta. “Non-surgical facelift” is a general term, typically referring to facial treatments for signs of aging, such as facial fillers and laser/radiofrequency treatments. While these treatments can be a good choice for anti-aging for many patients, they are not good substitutes for a facelift.

Are there alternatives to the facelift?

There are many anti-aging procedures that can address many of the same issues as a facelift, however, these procedures typically do not produce the same level of results as a facelift. Many non-invasive treatments can be combined to produce significant anti-aging results, but these are often temporary. The facelift offers the most comprehensive, long-lasting results possible.

Does facelift surgery produce scarring?

All surgery produces some scar tissue, and facelift procedures do involve an extensive incision. However, this incision is hidden by the hairline and/or ear to minimize any visibility of scar tissue. Any visible scarring will generally fade over time.

Can a facelift be covered by insurance?

As a cosmetic procedure, facelift surgery is not covered by most insurance plans.

Are there any signs of aging a facelift can't fix?

A facelift cannot address issues of the upper face—these areas require specialized procedures such as a brow lift or blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). In addition, poor skin tone, brown spots, and other skin aging issues require the use of a laser or other skin treatment, and cannot be improved with a facelift.




Emory Aesthetic Center of Buckhead-Atlanta