A facelift is a surgical procedure which removes sagging and excess skin by gently redraping, smoothing, and tightening the skin of your face. The process can make you look many years younger, and the results of a facelift can last from 5 to 15 years.
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Who Can Benefit From a Facelift?
A facelift can correct the following conditions:
- Sagging cheeks
- Deep lines that run from the nose to the mouth
Bear in mind that a facelift only alters the lower half of your face, so forehead and eye wrinkles will not be corrected. A facelift is also not effective in eliminating fine wrinkles. Many procedures may be combined with a facelift to maximize the rejuvenation of the face. Some of these procedures include eyelid lift, brow lift, rhinoplasty, and fat transfers to the face.
What is the Procedure Like?
Most facelifts are performed under general anesthesia, although the procedure may be performed under just a local anesthetic and a sedative. This allows you to be awake during the procedure, but you will experience no pain. All you may feel is some tugging of the skin, and the sedative will help you to stay relaxed during the procedure. Most facelifts are performed in Dr. Rubinstein’s office operating room, although sometimes, they are performed in a hospital.
A facelift generally takes three to five hours, and you will need to spend the first night under observation. The doctor will apply bandages and place drains to remove excess fluids. The dressing and drains are kept in place for up to 24 hours. They are removed the day after surgery, and no further dressings are usually required. The incisions are hidden along the hairline and also run along the natural curvature in front of and behind your ears, where they remain unseen.
Sometimes, a very small incision is required under the chin. A facelift will provide improvement of the face and neck from just below the eyes to the base of the neck. If you only have a problem with a limited area, you may be a candidate for a limited incision procedure such as a mini-facelift or necklift. If you have problems that you would like to correct on both the face and the neck, you will likely require a full facelift for optimal improvement.
What Can I Expect During Recovery?
Most patients are surprised to discover that the recovery from a facelift is relatively easy. You may experience some minor pain during the healing process, but this can easily be managed with a pain medication prescription. Generally, patients feel that their face is tight but not painful. You will be asked to avoid aspirin before and after the surgery since aspirin thins the blood and can promote excess bleeding.
Dressings will be applied to the incision areas at the time of surgery and will be removed the next day. No further dressings are needed in most cases. You will have follow-up visits with your surgeon to monitor your progress after your facelift. You will need someone to drive you home afterward, and you will need someone to help you around the house for a few days. This is because you may experience some minor pain and discomfort that will make it unpleasant to cook for yourself and take care of other daily activities.
You will need to rest and maintain your head in an elevated position to help swelling resolve quickly. You may shower immediately after surgery, but you will likely need some help the first few days. Most people experience some swelling and bruising for a period of two or three weeks after the surgery. Bear in mind that this will correct itself after a short period of time. You can reduce the swelling by elevating your head and applying cold compresses to the affected areas. Dr. Rubinstein will also provide you with healing supplements as part of your holistic package which help to resolve swelling and bruising more quickly.
You may also experience periods of numbness after the surgery, and patients frequently feel tightness of the facial skin for as long as a few months after the surgery. This is all a natural part of the healing process. You will not be able to see the final result of your facelift for many following the surgery. Your stitches will be removed in stages beginning one week after surgery. Most stitches are removed by two weeks, although some may remain for a third week if needed for proper healing.
You can wear makeup after about a week, and most patients are able to return to work within two weeks. You may begin your normal exercise program within three weeks of the surgery. It is important to note, however, that the length of the healing period varies from person to person, and you should follow your doctor’s instructions, which will be tailored to you. If you smoke, you will need to stop for a period of at least two weeks prior to surgery and refrain from smoking for a period of four weeks after surgery.
Smoking can slow down and impair the healing process, so if you want to stop smoking, the time before and after a facelift may be a good incentive. You should avoid dyeing your hair for at least two months after a facelift, and you need to protect your skin from the sun even more than usual after a facelift, especially during the first six months post-surgery.
What Are the Risks of Facelifts?
Facelifts have been performed safely and successfully for many years. However, any surgery carries some risk. The risks of a facelift include bleeding, numbness, and wound healing problems. Infections are very uncommon, and in very rare cases, nerves can be injured. Nerve injuries usually resolve in time, but can sometimes lead to permanent changes.