What Is A Facelift?
A facelift operation improves the changes caused by sun and ageing, found both in the lower face and the neck. In this respect, the term facelift is a misnomer since only the lower face is improved by the surgery. For this reason, it is often referred to as a cheek-neck lift.
Improvement of the eyes and forehead require separate surgeries (blepharoplasty and forehead lift surgery).
What Improvements Are Expected After Facelift Surgery?
As the lower face ages, there is an accumulation of fat in the neck and jowl region of the jaw. The cheek merges into the neck and it is difficult to determine where one starts and the other ends.
There is also generalised sagging of the skin and supporting tissues producing folds of skin on the face and under the chin. This produces a “turkey wattle” of the neck and jowls on the lower cheek. Facelift surgery removes the excess fat and skin that has accumulated in the neck and jowls. Facelift surgery will help improve some of the lines around the mouth but usually not the deep crevices sometimes found on the upper lip.
How Is The Facelift Surgery Performed?
To perform a facelift, an incision is created in the temple and extends down in front of the ear, then reflects around the ear up into the scalp. From this incision, the skin of the cheek and/or neck can be raised and re-draped with excess skin being removed. Sometimes a small incision under the chin is made to facilitate tightening of the neck muscles.
Less extensive forms of facelifting can be performed such as the S-lift. Please discuss with Dr Hills to assess what forms of lifting will be most suitable for you.
Liposuction of the neck may be combined with facelift surgery.
Will I Be Hospitalised?
Facelift surgery can be performed as a day case, or alternatively, a short hospital stay may be indicated, depending on the extent of the procedure. The facelift procedure can be performed under local or general anaesthesia.
How Long Does The Procedure Take?
The facelift surgery takes two to four hours to complete. Although you will be able to walk soon after the surgery has been completed, you must have someone drive you home and remain with you for the first 12 hours if done as a Day Case. Medications administered during the surgery may impair your judgement and possibly make you dizzy and unsteady on your feet. Straining or bending at the waist can increase bleeding and bruising, and must be avoided.
Is The Surgery Only Performed On Older Individuals?
Patients in their 30’s as well as those in their 80’s may be candidates for a facelift. We all age differently and the changes of age may bother some more than others. Dr Hills and his staff will assist you in making a reasonable judgement as to the appropriateness of surgery and the type of surgery that will best improve your ageing changes.
Will There Be Pain After Surgery?
Typically there is little pain after facelift surgery. It is especially important to rest and limit activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after the surgery. This minimises bruising and discomfort. Mild soreness situated along the surgical incision behind the ear may occur during the first several days after the surgery. Paracetamol will minimise this discomfort. Keeping your head elevated above heart level will reduce swelling, immediately following surgery.
Will My Face Appear Abnormal Or Have A 'Pulled' Appearance Afterwards?
The facelift surgery is meant to improve your appearance. You will look younger for your age, but not abnormal. Friends will typically ask you if you’ve lost weight or had a new hairdo. They know that something has happened to revitalize your appearance, but they usually don’t guess what it is.
How Soon Can I Return To Work And My Exercise Routine?
Most individuals can return to non-strenuous work within ten days to two weeks. Moderate exercise, such as walking, is permissible after two weeks. Exercise routines can be resumed in approximately 4 weeks if healing has proceeded normally. Makeup may again be applied in seven to ten days.
How Long Will It Take Before I Will Obtain The Final Result?
Improvement can be noted immediately but the final result may take several months. Bruising will disappear first but swelling especially under the chin may take several months to disappear. The surgical incision lines also take time to fully heal.
What Should I Expect To Occur While I Am Healing?
Swelling is common but not severe. It is often most noticeable under the chin. Bruising is mild and typically occurs in the lower neck. It is unusual to see appreciable facial bruising. Bandages are removed in 48 hours. You can then shower and gently wash your hair. Antibiotic ointment applied daily to the incision lines will enhance healing. You may experience a slight reduction in your energy levels during the first postoperative week. This is part of the normal healing process.
What Possible Complications Can Occur?
It is unusual to have any severe allergic reactions to the medications utilised during the surgery. Sterilised equipment, antibiotics and the excellent blood supply of the face and neck make infection rare. Mild numbness is common and, with time, usually dissipates completely. One should expect some bruising of the skin during healing.
Most of the bruising is seen in the neck region and not on the face. The most common serious complication can be bruising, and is usually due to medications such as aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Please read the list of drugs that can cause excess bleeding and inform us of any pill you may be taking including vitamins and OTC medications. Rest and avoidance of physical straining are important. Smokers are prone to healing delays especially behind the ear. This is due to poor circulation for years of past smoking and smoking immediately after facelift surgery. This can eventuate in conspicuous scarring.
Any skin surgery can result in scarring. However, in facelift surgery any scars created by the surgeon are intended to be inconspicuous. Some patients, however, can develop a thickened form of scarring which requires special treatment.
Nerve damage of a transient nature is infrequent. Permanent damage can occur although is extremely rare. Please discuss this risk with Dr Hills.
How Long Will A Facelift Last And Will Additional Surgery Be Required In The Future?
A facelift will turn back the years, giving you a more youthful look. Your face will take on its former appearance of a younger age. A facelift does not stop ageing.
Some individuals have only one facelift. It makes them look younger and good for their age. Others age differently and may need additional surgery two to ten years later to keep that youthful appearance. Still others may wish to obtain a tighter pull at a future time.
It is often a personal decision as to when you believe you need another facelift. This may be accomplished by a simple procedure called a cheek lift, which does not require as extensive of a surgery as a facelift. This may be done as soon as 6 months or several years after the initial surgery. Remember, nothing prevents ageing, and so your skin will continue to sag with time.
What Must I Do To Prepare For The Surgery?
You will be requested to stop all aspirin and aspirin products for two weeks and alcohol for one week prior to surgery. Smoking should be stopped for several days before and after surgery. Smoking will reduce the blood flow needed for healing. After surgery it is important to rest and remain quiet.