With the passage of time, gravity, sun exposure, and the stresses of daily life take their toll on our faces and necks. Smile lines become deep creases, the jaw line slackens and forms jowls, and the neck develops loose folds and fat deposits. A facelift counteracts these signs of aging by tightening muscle, removing fat, and trimming excess skin, giving your face a fresher, more youthful look. After facelift surgery, some patients look younger by a decade or more, and yet maintain a natural appearance.
A facelift, technically known as a rhytidectomy (literally, “removal of wrinkles”), rejuvenates the mid- to lower face and neck. Facelifts are most effective for patients who want to correct:
- Facial skin laxity with wrinkling and sagging
- Deep creases under the eyes
- Folds between the nose and mouth (nasolabial folds)
- Jowls due to loss of skin and muscle tone
- Areas of protruding fat accumulation
- Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw
Facelifts are designed to produce a significant improvement in facial appearance for patients with any of these issues. Although a facelift turns back the clock to restore a more youthful look, changes due to gravity, exposure to the sun and noxious environments, and the body’s overall aging process will continue to affect the face and additional facelifting may be warranted after many years. Earlier surgical intervention with less invasive procedures in younger patients who have milder manifestations of facial aging may stave off the more extensive facelift techniques required to produce results in older patients with more widespread wrinkles and tissue damage. Dr. Hutchinson will take into consideration each patient’s unique characteristics and desired outcome in order to recommend the best facelift procedure for them.
Candidates for Facelift
The best candidates for facelift or rhytidectomy:
- Are men or women who wish to improve one or more signs of facial aging, such as loose skin and jowls
- Notice their faces are sagging due to loss of skin elasticity
- Are generally in good health
- Do not smoke
- Have realistic expectations
During your consultation, Dr. Hutchinson will evaluate your individual physical features, address all your concerns. and discuss whether a facelift is right for you. In some patients, concurrent aesthetic procedures such as upper and lower eyelid lift, rhinoplasty, brow lift, or fat injections may enhance their overall facial rejuvenation results.
Facelifts are typically outpatient procedures and may be performed in an office-based facility, surgery center or hospital. Patients may have a choice of IV sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure takes about two hours.
The way a facelift is performed varies depending on the surgeon, the patient’s facial structure, and the extent of correction desired. The three most common incision techniques are:
- Traditional facelift: The “full” facelift for rejuvenating the face, jowls and neck, including fat sculpting, lifting and repositioning of muscle and deeper tissues, and skin trimming and redraping. The incision begins at the temples and travels down to the front of the ear, around the earlobe, and behind the ear to the lower scalp at the hairline. Sometimes, another incision is made under the chin.
- Limited-incision facelift: For limited rejuvenation around the eyes and mouth, including nasolabial folds and other deep creases. Short incisions are made at the temples and around the ear, and possibly in the lower eyelids and/or under the upper lip as well.
- Lower facelift: A lower facelift concentrates on improving the jawline, smoothing out jowls, and removing fat under the chin. It may be extended and combined with a neck lift to address loose muscle bands and excess skin in the neck. The incision is made around the ear lobe and behind the ear into the hairline.
In all three methods, incisions are closed with stitches which are removed after several days. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural creases of the face.
Patients who have previously undergone facelift surgery may subsequently benefit from a secondary facelift after 10 or more years. For these men and women, the surgical approach may be altered in order to address the areas of skin laxity or fat deposition that have developed, optimize overall results, and minimize scarring and risk of complications.
Recovery from Facelift
After your facelift, Dr. Hutchinson will wrap the incisions in bandages to protect the incisions. Sutures and surgical clips will be removed one week after the facelift at the time of your postoperative office visit.
At first, you may experience swelling, numbness, bruising, and a feeling of tightness in the face and neck. Your face may look somewhat uneven, and your facial muscles may feel stiff. Most of these feelings usually resolve within the first few weeks, and sensation typically returns to normal with time. Scars usually become less noticeable as healing occurs over time. Most patients return to regular daily activities and work after two weeks.
Results of Facelift
Results of a facelift are immediately evident once swelling and bruising subside, and a noticeable improvement in your appearance will last for years. Most patients see significant facial rejuvenation with smoother, tighter skin, more youthful contours, and improved jawline. Dr. Hutchinson’s keen aesthetic sense, attention to detail, and meticulous surigcal technique contribute to natural, beautiful results for her patients.
Risks of Facelift
Possible complications of facelift include: bleeding, infection, unsightly scars, uneven swelling or discoloration, and wound healing issues (primarily in smokers). Dr. Hutchinson will discuss the risks and benefits of a facelift with you and address all of your concerns before your surgery.
The Facelift Patient’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I a good candidate for facelift surgery?
A: Men and women who notice signs of facial and neck aging may benefit from facelift surgery if they are concernced about any of the following:
- loose, droopy, excess skin of their face and neck
- loss of soft tissue volume in the midface with flattening of youthful facial curves
- decreased skin elasticity with facial skin wrinkles
- jowls in lower face
- muscle bands in the neck
Q: What should I expect during my facelift consultation?
A: Your initial consultation with Dr. Hutchinson includes the following:
- a comprehensive in-person discussion with Dr. Hutchinson when she will obtain your medical history and you will have time to explain what bothers you about your face and neck and what results you hope to achieve with facelift surgery
- after your conversation, you will be seen in a private examination room where she will perform a detailed physical examination and assess your unique physical features
- she will also take medical photographs which provide additional information when discussing your facelift surgery
- following your examination, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss facelift options, determine the best customized surgical plan for you to achieve your goals, and review your medical photographs with you
- Dr. Hutchinson will also provide you with specific details regarding the bespoke facelift operation she creates for you as each patient’s plan is based on individual features and desired outcome
- she will also inform you of what is required from you before and after your facelift surgery to ensure a successful operation and smooth recovery
- you will be given ample time to ask any questions you have in order to feel comfortable with your decision
- you will also have an opportunity to schedule your facelift once you have decided to proceed
Q: How will my face look after my facelift?
A: A facelift recreates a youthful facial appearance by removing lax or excess facial skin, tightening the soft tissues of the face and neck, and restoring facial contours. In order to help you understand what results can be achieved with your facelift and what is the best possible option for you, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss with you specific details and physical characteristics of your face and neck. Factors that may impact your results include the following:
- amount of facial skin excess due to gravity and aging
- extent of facial fat loss
- skin tone and laxity
- degree of jowling
- extent of skin laxity in the neck
- amount of fat in the neck
- presence of platysma muscle bands in the neck
- prior laser treatments, scars, or surgery of the face and neck
Q: How should I prepare for my facelift?
A: Dr. Hutchinson provides her patients with detailed and precise instructions to be followed prior to surgery, which include the following:
- Dr. Hutchinson will make recommendations for each patient including:
- requirements for medical clearance, bloodwork, and EKG prior to surgery
- patients should be active participants in optimizing their wellness, including:
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle and nutritious diet
- avoiding smoking
- not taking medications that can increase risk of complications
Q: What should I expect after my facelift surgery?
A: Every patient will have their own personal experience and recovery after their facelift, although some common aspects of their post-operative course include the following:
- changes are immediate and results long lasting
- some discomfort, swelling, and bruising are normal in the first few days after surgery
- it is essential you maintain head elevation, refrain from strenuous physical activity, and closely follow the detailed instructions provided by Dr. Hutchinson for you to have a smooth recovery and best results
- final results produce a natural, refreshed, more youthful appearance to the face and neck