For most of us, the way we look affects the way we feel which is why the face can have such a strong impact on our self-confidence. Lines and wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and lack of muscle tone on the face affect us all as we get older, and these problems are compounded by lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, smoking and changes in bodyweight.
A facelift can help you regain a more youthful look by removing jowls, loose skin and crow’s feet as well as smoothing out deep lines which usually appear around the mouth and nose and on the forehead.
The right approach for you will depend upon the results you would like to see.
Many patients have deep cheek folds, jowls and loose, sagging skin around the neck and a facelift is particularly good for addressing these issues. A facelift can help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles but it’s more appropriate for deeper lines which are a permanent feature of the face.
Facelift surgery works best for people whose face and neck have begun to sag but whose skin still has some elasticity. A strong and well-defined bone structure will also help as the foundation to successful treatment.
We will help you make an informed decision by assessing the skin and bone structure of your face and helping you to understand the results we expect to be able to achieve for you.
Complications that can occur with facelift surgery include haematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anaesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers, requiring modifications to the operation.
By choosing to have your facelift performed at a specialist, well-established plastic surgery practice with highly trained and experienced surgeons, complications are infrequent and usually minor.
The start of your facelift journey entails an initial consultation in which we evaluate your face, including the skin and underlying bone and discuss what you want to achieve. This consultation allows us to have a full and frank discussion about what can realistically be achieved, allowing you to make an informed decision about whether facelift surgery is right for you.
The actual procedure varies from patient to patient but, in general, the skin is separated from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The underlying muscles are then tightened and the excess skin removed. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions.
For a full facelift, incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp, so will be hard to see once your recovery is complete. For a temporal lift, scars remain in the hairline, extending just down to the ear; in an upper face lift, the scars are sculpted round the front of the ear to disguise them as much as possible and usually pass round to the back of the earlobe.
Facelift surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic – it usually takes several hours and involves at least one night in hospital.
Your face will be wrapped in bandages and you may have a drainage tube which, along with your dressings, can be removed after one or two days. Don’t be surprised at the pale, bruised and puffy face you see – just keep in mind that it doesn’t last long.
Pain after surgery is usually mild and can be lessened with prescribed medication. Some numbness of the skin is quite normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months.
You’ll need to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery to reduce the swelling. And it’s important to get plenty of rest so expect to take up to two weeks off work and enlist some help with washing, dressing and everyday living. You will be able to wash your hair regularly once you get home.
Most of your stitches will be removed after one week and the scars will be hidden within your hair and in the normal creases of your skin so won’t be visible.
No, not if the surgery is properly planned. We begin with a full assessment of your face and skin and a review of your medical history. We then determine the results you would like to achieve before planning the best approach. Patients usually ask us to aim for subtle improvements which enhance your natural look.
This is a significant procedure so don’t expect to feel normal for at least a few days, possibly weeks. We will give you guidance to help ensure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
Rest and recuperation are extremely important. Before you leave hospital, we will talk to you about how you can help yourself to recover as quickly as possible. You’ll also be asked to attend follow-up appointments where we can review how well you are healing.
Because we’re aiming for an enhancement of your natural look you won’t need to worry that people can tell you’ve had a facelift. Usually, patients who have had facelifts tend to find that people comment on how well they look. You may wish to only see close friends and family who know you’ve had the operation while your bruising settles down.
Yes, if you know anaesthetic makes you feel poorly we can discuss various options before your surgery to minimise discomfort. Read our article to find out more about why anaesthetic makes some people feel sick and what can be done about it.