What is a Facelift?

atlanta faceliftAs you get older, the skin and soft tissues of your face lose their elasticity, and vertical folds and fat deposits may appear around the neck. Deep creases and wrinkles may form between the nose and mouth, and crow’s feet become visible at the corners of the eyes. The jawline is no longer straight, and jowls begin to develop. Your skin can make you look older than you are or feel. Excessive sun exposure, stress, pollutants and genetic factors can contribute to prematurely aging facial skin.

A facelift, medically known as “rhytidectomy,” can reduce these signs of premature aging. A facelift smoothes the loose skin on your face and neck, tightens underlying tissues and removes excess fat, resulting in a firmer, fresher appearance. The areas addressed are the middle and lower parts of the face, including the neck, jowls, and the cheeks; facelifts do not treat the upper portion of the face, that is accomplished with a forehead lift.

Types of Facelifts

In reality, there is not just one standard facelift procedure, but a range of facelift techniques which vary based on the extent of improvement that is desired and the specific areas that are targeted.

The full facelift or SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) lift corrects the mid-face, jowls and neck, allowing excess skin and fat to be removed. This is considered the standard procedure when it comes to facelifts.

A neck lift concentrates on jowls, loose skin on the neck, and fat under the chin.

A mid-face lift (or “cheek lift”) restores youthful vitality to the mid-face, lifting the cheeks and smoothing fine lines to achieve a natural, rejuvenated look without the need to undergo a full facelift. Mid-face lifts can be the perfect solution for reducing puffiness under the eyes, improving the contour of the upper cheeks, and correcting “smile” or “laugh lines” (nasolabial folds).

The so-called mini facelift may be recommended for patients who do not have advanced signs of aging. The mini facelift plastic surgery procedure targets the lower face and upper neck, and will not affect the mid-face area. Basically, a mini-facelift lifts tissue and trims skin, but less dramatically than a full face lift.

How is a Facelift Performed?

During a facelift procedure, general anesthesia or IV sedation will be administered to ensure the patient stays asleep throughout the duration of the operation. On average, facelift and neck lift surgeries take about two to three hours to complete, depending on the extent of the procedure.

To perform a full facelift, Dr. Deutsch will begin by making an incision in the temple area, just above the ear, and then continue downward around the earlobe, circling up into the groove behind the ear, before returning into the hair of the scalp behind the ear. (The incision pattern usually follows the hairline or natural skin creases, so it does not normally show after surgery.) Alternative incision patterns may be made, depending on your particular situation. If the neck area also needs to be tightened, a small incision will be made underneath the chin.

Once the incisions are made, Dr. Deutsch will remove excess skin, and liposuction may be performed on the neck and jowls. He then repositions and tightens the remaining skin and underlying muscles. If volume needs to be restored to the face, a fat transfer procedure may be performed as well. Lastly, the skin is re-draped over the face and the incision is sutured.

After surgery, the head is loosely wrapped in a compression garment or bandages to minimize swelling and bruising. Small drainage tubes will be placed on your head where they will be left for 24 hours, to drain any blood or fluid that collects.

Recovering from a Facelift
We will ask you to keep your head elevated for the first 24 hours after surgery to prevent blood from collecting and minimize any possible complications. You will return to our medical office the day after the operation to have the compression garment and drains removed. We suggest patients stay overnight in the surgical suite following their facelift procedures for observation and to facilitate post-operative care.

For the first couple weeks of your recovery, your face may be swollen and bruised. You may also feel some numbness or decreased sensation in the face for the first several weeks. However, pain is usually minimal. If anything, most patients experience only mild discomfort, mainly in the back part of the neck, which usually clears up within a day. Any pain or discomfort can be relieved with medication. Patients will be given prescriptions for a pain reliever and antibiotic upon discharge.

Sutures are usually removed within 5 to 10 days following surgery. After two weeks, most patients are able to return to work, and they can also start wearing makeup again. Complete recovery time is generally around six weeks for a full facelift. Patients are advised to avoid heavy lifting and vigorous or strenuous activity during this time.

Facelift Results
While you will notice changes in your appearance immediately after the procedure, you won’t see your final results until the swelling goes down. It may take 2 to 3 months for the swelling to completely subside. It may also take up to six months for the incision lines to fade and heal; until then, makeup can be worn to help conceal scarring.

In general, the results of a facelift last 8 to 10 years, sometimes longer, depending on factors such as the patient’s age, health, lifestyle, and the condition of the skin at the time of surgery. It is important to understand that after you’ve had a facelift, your face will still be affected by the normal aging process. But when it does age, it will still look far better than if you never had a facelift! There are steps you can take, however, to minimize how much your face ages. This includes protecting your skin from sun exposure and living a healthy lifestyle.

67 year old female complained of aging face. She underwent a brow lift and neck and mid-face lift. Pictures were taken 1 month postop.

Contact us for Your Complimentary Consultation
If you have any questions about facelift surgery, or would like a complimentary plastic surgery consultation with Dr. Deutsch to discuss this procedure, please call Perimeter Plastic Surgery today at 404-255-0886 to book your appointment. During your consultation, Dr. Deutsch will discuss your desired outcome and carefully analyze your current condition to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your complimentary consultation is the first step to a more beautiful you!