As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun and the stresses of daily life begin to take their toll on the face. Deep creases form between the nose and mouth; the jaw line grows slack and jowly; folds and fat deposits appear around the neck. A face-lift is a surgical procedure performed to improve the most visible signs of the ageing process, by eliminating excess fat, tightening the muscles beneath the skin of the face and neck (SMAS face lift), and remove any sagging skin. Many times this procedure is performed in conjunction with eyelid or even forehead surgery. A well-performed face lift should revitalize the face without distorting or changing one’s facial features. A face-lift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your self-confidence in the process. However it can’t give you a totally different look, or can not restore the health and vitality of your youth.
Am I a suitable candidate for this surgery?
The best candidate for a face-lift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity. There is no need to wait until hanging folds or almost irreversible changes have taken place. In fact these days, many patients prefer earlier corrections to maintain youthful appearances, and therefore avoid living through a period of looking “old and tired”.
It is important to remember however that surgery cannot erase permanent creases, particularly on the lips, and that it does not stop the ageing process. A face-lift just “sets the clock back”; it does not stop it running. Slight differences in facial symmetry are normal and will be pointed out as many times these are unnoticed by the patient. It will also be explained that certain areas of the face cannot be helped by surgery, such as the lines around the mouth, frown, and crow feet region. The newer skin resurfacing lasers best deals with these areas. If you are a smoker you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Smoking seriously constricts blood vessels and therefore decreases blood flow to a given area resulting in poor healing. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid these.
Are there different types of face-lifts?
Over the years the classical (skin only) operation has undergone a number of modifications to improve the overall results. These modifications were aimed at lifting not only the skin but also the underlying structures (smas), which were equally subjected to the effects of the ageing process. By addressing these structures, the face could be lifted to enjoy a longer lasting effect.
How long does a Face-lift last?
It is impossible to answer this or generalize, as each individual has different skin quality and texture. However in one sense, ten years later, you will look better than if you never had any surgery. Remember however your face will continue to age with time.
What does the operation involve?
In broad terms the incision used for both men and women is the same, although there is a slight difference, as result of the hair bearing nature of the male facial skin. Generally speaking the incision starts high in the temple area (hidden by the hair at this point) then courses down in front of the ear, round the earlobe and up behind the ear before curving gently back into the hairline of the neck.
Using the above incisions the skin is lifted forwards onto the cheeks and down as far as the jawline and into the neck. The underlying structures are then lifted accordingly so as to ensure a longer lasting effect. Having repositioned the deep tissues, the loose expanded skin is elevated upwards and any overlapping or excess skin is trimmed. The wound is then closed .A bandage dressing is then gently applied around your face .
What type of anesthesia is used and how long does the surgery take?
A face-lift can be performed either with local anesthesia or a full general anesthetic. Surgery for a face-lift can take between 2-3 hours, although this takes longer when combined with additional surgery i.e. eyelid surgery.
What kind of after effects should I expect?
Following surgery you will experience swelling which can last up to 2- 3 weeks. You will also experience a feeling of numbness and tension in the neck and cheek areas. Sensory nerve fibers in the skin being separated Sensation usually returns to normal but may take sometimes few months. You may experience a tingling sensation at your face as sensitivity of the area returns.
Is it painful?
You will experience a tight feeling around your face following surgery but very minimal pain. Most patients say they do not need any pain killers during the early postoperative period, the majority of patients experience a surprisingly small amount of discomfort following a face-lift.
What could go wrong?
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk. Complications are infrequent and usually minor. Conditions such as high blood pressure and smoking increase the chances of complications and therefore will be discussed in greater detail at the consultation. It is mandatory to stop smoking before and after the surgery, until healing is completed, to avoid any trouble with poor wound healing.
How long before I can get back to normal?
You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. However by the third week, you’ll look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work from about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If you need it, camouflage makeup can mask most bruising that remains.
The chances are excellent that you’ll be happy with your face-lift, especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. In the properly selected individual it is likely to boost ones self-confidence and self-image.