A face lift is a common cosmetic surgery procedure in which skin is lifted and pulled back in order to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or fine lines. While we can’t turn back the clock, it’s possible to reduce the physical signs of ageing through facelift surgery. If you’re interested in learning more about what a face lift is, read on!
For most of us, the way we look affects the way we feel. That’s 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. These problems are further compounded by lifestyle factors such as sun exposure, smoking and changes in body weight.
A facelift can help you regain a more youthful look by removing jowls, loose skin and crow’s feet as well as smoothing out the deep lines which usually appear around the mouth and nose and on the forehead.
Face lifts are suitable for both men and women and they have the choice of 3 different types. These are a mini face lift, a face and neck lift or an extended face lift. The right approach for you will depend upon the results you would like to see. In our initial consultation we will provide you with an honest assessment of what each type of face lift is likely to achieve, as well as discussing the face lift surgery cost.
A mini face lift only involves making small incisions in the front of the ear. As the least invasive form of face lift currently available, a mini face lift may also be referred to as a ‘short scar’ face lift. Any scarring that results from the face lift procedure can generally be hidden within your natural hairline.
Its less invasive nature means that a mini face lift has a shorter recovery period than that of a full face lift. There is less swelling or bruising that needs to be given time to recede. This makes it a popular choice among both men and women. In most instances, the face lift procedure can be carried out under local anaesthetic, further reducing the recovery time within the clinic itself.
Mini face lift surgery is more limited in scope and will only address the jawline and cheek as well as the upper neck, to some extent. The focus is very much on the lower third of your face. In this area, one of the most obvious signs of ageing is the loss of definition along the jawline, something to which you may be genetically disposed. The chin can be similarly affected with a build up of excess fat tissue. A mini face lift would remove this fat and tighten the covering skin. If you are experiencing moderate cheek sagging due to lax skin, a mini face lift could be an option.
Typically, mini face lifts are recommended for slightly younger patients or those with good tone in the neck muscles.
Mini face lift surgery itself involves creating an incision that runs from just in front of your ear up into the hairline. The length of the incision varies in accordance with your unique facial structure and requirements, as well as the surgeon’s preferred technique. Through this incision, the surgeon will carefully pull the underlying tissue upwards towards the ear where it is then secured in place. Any excessive skin is then removed.
A face and neck lift is also concentrated primarily on the lower section of the face but extends further behind the ear than a mini face lift. This slight difference provides great access to the neck area, allowing the surgeon to make further corrections to the space beneath the chin and jawline.
A face and neck lift is often accompanied by liposuction or open removal of fat, as well as occasional tightening of the neck muscles under the chin (platysma). The centre of the neck where loose skin tends to gather is an area which people commonly wish to target. As skin loses its elasticity and becomes lax, deep wrinkles begin to develop and muscles form noticeable bands. You can be genetically disposed to sagging skin around the neck but ageing and sun damage also plays a significant role.
An extended face lift involves the same as a neck and face lift but also extends into the temporal region. This slight adjustment allows for the lifting of the lateral brow, crow’s feet and cheek. This more extensive surgery helps to smoothen out deeper wrinkles and lines than a mini face lift, making it an attractive option for older patients. It is particularly effective for eliminating the folds of loose skin that can gather around the neck.
An extended face lift procedure is generally performed with the patient under general anaesthetic. Given that it is a more invasive surgery than a mini face lift, you can expect a longer recovery period and will need to remain in the clinic overnight. The incision itself will stretch from your temple down behind your ears, giving the surgeon greater access to your cheeks or foreheads. If the chin is a significant area of concern, an incision may also be made there. Unwanted fat is carefully removed and the skin tightened back over it, with any excess removed.
Extended face lift surgery is often done in combination with a blepharoplasty procedure which targets sagging eyelids. This helps to give the whole face a fresher and more youthful look.
While the effects can be transformative, facelift surgery isn’t right for everyone.
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 full facelift can help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles but it has a more dramatic effect on 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 includes an initial consultation in which we evaluate your face, including the skin and underlying bone structure. We will spend time discussing what you want to achieve. This consultation allows us to have a full and frank conversation 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. They 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 they will 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. We will provide with clear instruction about how and when to take such 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 help reduce the swelling. 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 and considered. We begin with a full assessment of your face, skin, underlying bone structure 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 their natural look.
This is a significant and fairly invasive procedure so don’t expect to feel normal for at least a few days afterwards, possibly weeks. We will give you the necessary guidance to help ensure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.
Rest and recuperation are extremely important and work wonders. Before you leave hospital, we will talk to you about how you can best 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 and address any concerns.
Given that we’re aiming for an enhancement of your natural look, you won’t need to worry about people realising that you’ve had a facelift. Usually, patients who have had facelifts tend to find that people comment on how well they look, how refreshed. 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. If you wish to know more, we can explain why anaesthetic makes some people feel sick and what can be done about it.
*Disclaimer: Results may vary from person to person
If you would like to learn more about the different types of facelift, wish to speak to one of our specialist surgeons or want to book an initial consultation to discuss next steps then you can enquire here.