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What Is A Face Lift?

At some point in the natural process of aging, we look into the mirror and see a face whose appearance is no longer consistent with the image we have of ourselves, or reflective of how we feel. Minor changes in our hair style or color, make-up, etc. can no longer disguise the toll taken by time on our once-youthful faces.

Face lift surgery, or rhytidectomy, is designed to restore a more youthful appearance by smoothing and tightening the major wrinkles and sagging skin of the face, neck, and jaw line. Along with the removal of any excess skin, the muscles of the face and neck are elevated and secured, helping to maintain the improvement of the contours of the face and neck. The goal is a natural, rejuvenated appearance, rather than a drawn, overly-tight, unnatural look.

The skin begins to wrinkle and sag as a result of age, sun exposure and genetics. Children and young adults have smooth, well-defined faces due to evenly distributed fatty tissues in facial contours. Over time, the skin sags, and folds along the chin, jaw line, and neck become prominent. Not only does a Face lift improve facial appearance, it also has a dramatic effect on the neck, enhancing its contour and profile. A Face lift can make a patient look 5 to 10 years younger.

Am I A Candidate?

You may be a good candidate for a Face lift if you have the any of the following conditions:

  • A “jowly” appearance of the jaw line, with loss of definition and contour of the border of the jaw
  • A deep line (naso-labial fold) that runs from the corner of your nose to the corner of your mouth
  • A tired appearance of the face, because of laxity of the skin near the cheekbones
  • Loose skin, wrinkles, or excess fatty tissue in the neck, with loss of contour (“Turkey-gobbler” neck)

Ideal candidates are men or women, ages 40 to 80, in good physical health. To get a preview of how you might look after a Face lift, find a relatively large hand-held mirror. Holding the mirror about 18 inches above your face, lie down on your bed and look up at yourself. You should see an improvement of the jowls, sagging neck skin, and deep naso-labial creases between the nose and the corner of the mouth.

Your Consultation

Your plastic surgeon will discuss with you how your face can look and what you can expect from surgery. Many other factors (for example, the quality of the skin, the presence of bags or excess skin of the eyelid, sagging brows, etc.) influence our overall impression of the visible signs of aging of the face. For this reason, additional procedures, such as Brow Lift, Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Surgery), or Skin Resurfacing may be necessary in order to achieve a balanced, harmonious result that restores the youthful appearance of the entire face, as opposed to only a part of it, leaving other tell-tale signs of facial aging behind.

Realistic expectations and goals for the surgery are important. After successful Face lift surgery, you should look “better” as opposed to “different”. Your plastic surgeon’s objective is to create a natural and more youthful appearance that is pleasing to you, accentuating your positive attributes, while diminishing the negatives. A digital photography computer morphing system may be used to preview for you the anticipated results of the planned procedure(s). “Before and After” photographs from some of Your plastic surgeon’s previous patients will reveal what the surgery can accomplish in actual patients we have treated.

Options and Alternatives to Face Lift Surgery

Your plastic surgeon may discuss additional procedures that can be performed as an alternative to Face lift surgery, if you are uncertain whether a Face lift is right for you. Younger patients, and those without deep lines around the nose and mouth, may benefit from a combination of Skin Care, Botox Treatments, or Injectable Fillers such as Collagen, to soften the early signs of aging. If the problem area is isolated to the forehead and eyelids, a Brow Lift and/or Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) may be the answer, with Face lift being held in reserve. For patients with severely sun-damaged skin, a Skin Resurfacing procedure (chemical peel or laser) may be a viable alternative to achieve your goals.

Your plastic surgeon has extensive experience with all of the available treatment options for the signs of facial aging. During your consultation, Your plastic surgeon will take the time with you to discuss and explain all of the relevant options, to address your areas of concern, and to suggest the procedure or combination of procedures that will give you the result you desire.

The Procedure

Face lifts are performed in an outpatient surgical center. In order to maximize your comfort and safety, Your plastic surgeon prefers to perform Face lifts under a light general anesthesia. Using this method, your vital signs will be continuously monitored and controlled, you will feel no pain or anxiety, and you will not move accidentally during this delicate procedure, maximizing our precision.

Incisions are placed in inconspicuous locations precisely at or inside the hairline at the temple, in front of the ear, then around the earlobe and behind the ear, ending at the scalp area or along the hairline at the nape of the neck. The skin is undermined and lifted, revealing the underlying supporting tissues. These supporting layers are elevated and tightened, in order to maintain the long-term results of the Face lift. Slack, excess skin is removed in precise amounts, since it is important to avoid excessive tension on the skin. If necessary, fatty deposits are removed from beneath the chin and neck, through a small separate incision below the chin. Incisions are closed with very fine sutures.

The procedure takes approximately 3-4 hours depending on whether any other procedures are performed at the same time.


Your plastic surgeon generally requires his patients to spend the first one or two nights following surgery at a local aftercare retreat, where your progress can be monitored by specially-trained nursing staff. Our office will make the necessary arrangements for you during your pre-operative visit. Initially you may have a large, soft dressing wrapped around your head. You will have small surgical drains to prevent fluid accumulation beneath the facial skin. These will be removed in approximately 24 hours. Your plastic surgeon will personally monitor your progress on a daily basis for the first few days after surgery. Patients are generally allowed to shower with assistance and to have their hair shampooed within the first 48 hours after Face lift surgery. Stitches around the ears or eyelids will be removed in a few days. The scalp sutures will be removed in 7-10 days.

The length of your recuperation period will vary, depending upon several factors. It may take one to two weeks for the swelling or bruising to subside. Minor discoloration can be concealed with make-up after a few days, or once the skin has completely healed, if a skin resurfacing procedure is done in combination with your Face Lift. It may take three to four weeks before you feel comfortable about resuming social activities. The incisions will fade quickly, and are usually inconspicuous. We recommend that you avoid the sun for several weeks after surgery, especially if you have had a resurfacing procedure.


Complications following Face lift are infrequent and usually minor. However, individual patient variables in anatomy, general health, and healing characteristics may influence the risk of complications. These include bleeding, infection (rare), poor healing or loss of skin, facial nerve injury (usually temporary), discoloration of the skin, numbness, asymmetry, and scarring. The risk of bleeding is somewhat greater in men, or if you take aspirin or blood thinners within 2 weeks of the surgery. The risk of wound complications increases in diabetics, persons with a history of radiation, autoimmune and collagen disease as well as in smokers.

In the weeks following surgery, it is normal for the facial skin and area around the ear to be somewhat numb. There may also be some temporary discoloration as healing begins, which may take a few months to disappear. Rarely, the facial nerve is bruised during surgery, resulting in temporary weakness of the muscles of facial expression. However, permanent damage to the facial nerve is exceedingly rare.

By carefully following Your plastic surgeon’s pre- and post-operative instructions, you will minimize potential problems.

Your New Look

After the initial healing phase, most patients return to work and social activities with a renewed vigor and self-esteem. Family, friends, and colleagues who may not be aware of your surgery may notice that you look somehow fresher, more rested and relaxed, without being able to determine exactly why or how. Since the healing process is gradual, you may notice continuing improvement of your appearance for up to 6 months. The longevity of the results will depend upon several factors, including your genetic background, habits (sun exposure, smoking, alcohol use), and pre-existing skin quality. Your plastic surgeon will continue to monitor your progress and work with you to arrange a program of healthy lifestyle, skin care, and periodic maintenance procedures to enhance the longevity of your result, and to keep you looking your best.

Most patients who have had Face lifts are pleased with their new, more youthful appearance. By minimizing many of the most visible signs of aging while accentuating your best attributes, a Face lift can help you look as good as you feel.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q: Will a Face Lift correct signs of sun damage?

A: Generally, no. A Face Lift will improve skin laxity which is a function of ageing and hereditary or environmental factors. However, the fine wrinkles caused by sun damage usually require other types of treatments, such as Chemical Peel, Laser Resurfacing, or Dermabrasion.

Q: Will I lose sensation in my face after a Face lift?

A: Sensation in the areas of skin which are undermined during a face lift is usually temporary, and full normal sensation returns within a few weeks. Men should be extra careful when shaving during this early post-operative period, to avoid nicks and cuts, and all patients must avoid the use of hot compresses.