Face Lift

Procedure time

2 to 5 hours

Overnight stay

0 – 1 night

Anaesthetic

General

Final results

6 to 9 months

A facelift is a procedure that tightens and lifts the skin and muscles of the face. The medical name for a facelift is a rhytidectomy. This gives the face a more youthful appearance. It is one of the most commonly requested procedures by both men and women. Often, it can be combined with other procedures such as a neck lift or brow lift, to rejuvenate the overall facial appearance. This facelift overview page will be able to give you an idea of what the procedure involves.

What can a facelift achieve?

A facelift (rhytidectomy) can give you a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance. As we age, our skin gradually loses its elasticity and our facial muscles slacken. This creates the appearance of wrinkled, sagging skin, especially on the face. Lifestyle factors such as sun exposure and stress can also contribute to these changes. This can affect your confidence and make you look older than you feel. Thus, a facelift aims to restore the vitality in your appearance. 
By lifting and pulling back the skin and soft tissues of your face, a facelift can:

  • Smooth the skin on your face.
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Reduce flabby or sagging skin around the face.
  • Restore definition in your face.
  • Give you a more youthful appearance.
Facelift technique

The facelift procedure involves raising and repositioning the soft tissues of the face. Your surgeon will do this by firstly making an incision on both sides of the face, in front of the ears. They will then remove excess skin and fat and then tighten the muscles and soft tissues. Finally, they will lift and pull back the skin before closing the incision.
Your surgeon will perform your facelift using one of several techniques. The most common techniques are the following:
SMAS facelift
In this method, the surgeon makes a deep incision that goes below a layer of tissue called the Superficial Musculoaponeurotic System (SMAS). By making a deep incision, the surgeon can improve more severe facial sagging and problem areas, and achieve long-lasting results.
Minimal Access Cranial Suspension (MACS) facelift
With this method, the surgeon will make smaller incisions that do not go as deep as a SMAS facelift. This technique may be best for you if you only have mild problem areas, as you will have smaller scars and a shorter recovery period.

Why choose to have a facelift?

Ageing is a natural process and gradually signs of this will show on your face. However, often lifestyle factors can lead to premature wrinkles and lines, leaving some people unhappy about their appearance. If this is the case, you may be considering a facelift. To know if a facelift procedure is right for you, think about your main concerns you have and what you wish to change. You may be suited for a facelift if:

  • The appearance of your face is making you look older than you feel.
  • Your face is showing visible signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles.
  • You want to restore a youthful, more fresh appearance.
  • You want to redefine your face by reducing loose, sagging skin.
Who are the best candidates for a facelift?

Some patients are more suited than others to a facelift procedure. This depends on a variety of factors. The ideal candidates for a facelift will have the following features:
Good skin elasticity & strong bone structure
It is best if your skin still has some natural elasticity and suppleness as it will be able to conform to its new, improved contours. Well-defined bone structure also contributes to satisfying results. However, if you have less distinctive features, you may wish to consider facial implants.
Good general health
It is important to be in good general health before your surgery. This may mean stopping smoking before surgery or losing weight before the procedure. This will reduce the risk of complications and help you achieve better results from the surgery.
Loose skin, wrinkles & deep creases
A facelift is an excellent way to reduce flabby or sagging skin, reduce wrinkles, and smooth out deep creases.

What a facelift will not resolve

A facelift will only smooth and tighten the skin of the lower half of your face. However, often the surgeon can combine a facelift with the following procedures to address other concerns you may have:

  • Brow lift – this can reduce wrinkles on the forehead.
  • Blepharoplasty – this can correct sagging of the eyelids.
  • Neck lift – this tightens and lifts the skin of the neck.

Your surgeon can perform these procedures at the same time as your facelift. Discuss with your surgeon your concerns so that they can suggest the best approach for you to achieve your goals.

How is a facelift procedure performed?

There are a number of different techniques your surgeon can use for a facelift procedure. You will have met with your surgeon for a consultation prior to the surgery to discuss the different options, and what technique would be most suitable for you to achieve your goals. A facelift can take anything between 2 to 5 hours. This also depends on whether you have additional procedures, such as a neck lift, performed at the same time. Below is an overview on what will happen on the day of your facelift procedure.

1. Consent

You will need to give your consent for the operation in the form of writing. You will do this before the surgery. This ensures that you have had enough time to obtain information about the facelift procedure, including the benefits, risks, and complications involved. Before you sign the consent form, you should also make sure that you have asked your surgeon any questions you have regarding the procedure. Once you have done this, your surgeon will demonstrate where he will be making the incisions by drawing lines on the treatment area.

2. Anaesthesia

You will be walked to the anaesthetic room where you will meet your anaesthetist. This is the doctor who will be responsible for giving you your anaesthetic. Your surgeon will have discussed with you what type of anaesthetic you will have during your operation. This will either be a general or a local anaesthetic. A general anaesthetic will put you safely to sleep throughout the entire procedure. A local anaesthetic will numb the treatment area, and the anaesthetist will also give you a sedative medication at the same time. This will help to keep you relaxed throughout the operation.

3. Incisions

In the operating theatre, your surgeon will prepare you for the operation by cleaning the treatment area and draping over a sterile sheet. Your surgeon will then make an incision. The incisions will vary slightly in size and location according to the technique used. The general technique involves the surgeon separating your skin from the underlying tissue, before removing the excess fat and tightening the tissues. The surgeon will then use stitches to fixate the lifted tissue to its new position. Afterwards, they may reposition the excess fat to enhance the contours of the face. If there is not enough excess fat, the surgeon can also retrieve fat using liposuction. The different areas your surgeon may perform the facelift include the following:

Mini facelift

If you are only just beginning to show signs of ageing, you may not need a full facelift surgery. A mini facelift may be an ideal alternative for you. This technique involves the surgeon making small incisions in front or behind the ear. Depending on the degree of lift you need, the surgeon may also make a small incision along the hairline. They will then insert a stitch just under the skin and into the underlying fibrous tissue. The surgeon will use this stitch to lift the cheeks, jowls and the upper neck.

Mid Facelift

Whilst the above techniques mainly focus on sagging around the jowls and jawline, a mid facelift can address laxity and flattening of the skin in the middle segment of the face. This includes the cheek area below the eyelids and next to the nose. The surgeon will make small incisions in the hairline and either the mouth or lower eyelid. The surgeon can then tighten the muscles and reposition the fatty tissue upwards. This restores volume in the cheeks to create a natural, youthful contour to the face. This technique is ideal for patients who want to achieve a subtle but noticeable lift and fullness to their cheeks.

Full facelift

A full facelift is more suitable for older patients looking for a more dramatic final result. The full facelift targets the cheeks, jowls, temples and upper neck. Often, it does not include the brow area or neck area and a brow lift or neck lift may need to be added on. Your surgeon will discuss if you are a candidate for a full facelift or a mini facelift.
There are also different techniques that the surgeon may use which include the following:

SMAS facelift

This is the traditional facelift technique, and involves the manipulation of the Superficial Musculo Aponeurotic System (SMAS). This is a  deep layer of tissue that contains muscles and support structures of the face. In this technique, the incision is made along the hairline, past the front of your ears to below the earlobe, and behind the ears. The incision is deep and extends under the SMAS layer. The surgeon is able to elevate and tighten the tissue of the SMAS, and uses stitches to fixate it to its new position. Although it is a longer procedure with a longer recovery time, this technique produces long-lasting results. It is also more suitable for men and women who have more severe sagging of facial skin.

Minimal Access Cranial Suspension (MACS) facelift

With this technique, the surgeon will make a smaller incision that does not extend to the ear. The incision is more superficial and does not go under the SMAS layer. This technique is less extensive than the SMAS technique, so is better suited to correcting milder laxity of facial skin. The advantages of this method is smaller scars and a shorter recovery time.

4. Closing of incisions

The surgeon will lift and pull back the remaining skin and stitch it to its new position. They will use absorbable and non-absorbable sutures to close the incision. Afterwards, they will apply a light dressing to your face to help minimise bruising and swelling. These bandages will come off after a couple days. You may also have a small drainage tube placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any fluid.

5. Return to the ward

At the end of the surgery, the nurses will move you to a recovery room. Here, you will gradually wake up from your anaesthetic under close supervision.

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