Rhytidectomy, more commonly known as a face lift, is a rejuvenation procedure designed to reduce many signs of aging and restore a more youthful appearance to the face. A face lift involves restorative surgery that is designed to reduce sagging, loose skin, and deep creases while restoring tightness and muscle tone. A brow lift or eyelid surgery are often performed at the same time as a face lift, depending on the results desired.
About the Procedure
Unlike face lifts of the past, modern treatment involves more than just tightening of the skin in the face and neck. During a face lift procedure, muscles and connective tissue can be manipulated for a firmer, more youthful appearance. Fatty deposits may be repositioned or removed with liposuction. Excessive skin is cut away and removed for more natural looking results.
The face lift surgery may be performed in a hospital, clinic, or at our plastic surgeon Mark Pinsky, MD’s office. Anesthesia will be used during the procedure. The type of anesthesia administered will be discussed prior to the surgery and may vary depending on a variety of factors. Typically, general anesthesia or twilight anesthesia will be used, depending on what is available, patient preference, and Dr. Pinsky’s recommendations. Vital signs will be monitored closely during the surgical procedure so that any medical issues can be handled appropriately if needed.
Dr. Pinsky will follow natural creases as much as possible to conceal and minimize the appearance of any scars. A face lift procedure involves cutting the skin, beginning in front of and above the ear at the temple area. The incision will then continue around and behind the ear and down toward the hairline near the neck. However, when only a mini face lift is desired, Dr. Pinsky doesn’t need to make the incision any further than the back of the ear. A second incision is made for Dr. Pinsky to properly access necessary muscles and connective tissue in the neck area.
The skin, muscles, and connective tissues are then manipulated to achieve a tighter look with more youthful contours. Fat tissue may also be repositioned or it may be removed through the use of liposuction, depending on the desired results. Excess skin is then cut away, the skin positioned appropriately, and the incisions sutured. Small drainage tubes may be inserted to help with removal of accumulated fluids. Bandages will be applied to the face and the patient will be moved to a recovery area.
Candidates for the Face Lift Procedure
Those who wish to undergo face lift surgery should be in good physical and psychological health. The patient’s skin should also still have some elasticity in their skin for best results. As with any form of surgery, prospective patients need to discuss any current or past medical problems of medications, including those are are purchased over the counter, with Dr. Pinsky prior to any recommendations for a face lift procedure.
It is important for those who are considering face lift procedures to have realistic expectations of what can be achieved through the use of face lift surgery. It is important for prospective patients to understand that this procedure cannot drastically change a person’s appearance and it doesn’t stop the process of aging. It can, however, bring back and restore a more youthful appearance to the face and neck.
Those who wish to undergo a face lift procedure should be non-smokers. Smoking increases surgical risks and interferes with the healing process. Smoking affects blood vessels and blood flow in the face, delaying healing and often resulting in damage to skin tissue. Those who smoke need to quit and be smoke free for at least six weeks prior to any cosmetic surgery.
Preparing for a Face Lift
A face lift surgical procedure takes on average between 2 to 6 hours, depending on personal circumstances and the desired results. Although this procedure is frequently done on an outpatient basis with just a few hours needed for recovery and observation, many patients will be required to stay overnight. This should be discussed with Dr. Pinsky prior to the face lift surgery so that advance preparations can be made if necessary.
Two weeks before the surgery, stop taking over the counter pain relievers that can thin the blood, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It is also important to quit taking any other over the counter preparations and supplements, such as vitamins and herbs. Also avoid alcohol during this time period. All of these mentioned products can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. They also can increase bruising and interfere with proper blood clotting during the healing process.
Drink plenty of water before and after the face lift surgery to remove toxins and promote healing. Limit salt in the diet before and after the surgery to reduce the risk of inflammation and swelling. The day before surgery, a liquid diet is recommended.
Recovering from a Face Lift
Pain medications will be prescribed to help alleviate any discomfort. Swelling is most commonly experienced within the first 24 to 48 hours following the procedure and can be alleviated by elevating the head. Use ice packs only if recommended by Dr. Pinsky. Bruising may last up to 2 weeks. Numbness following surgery is common and should resolve itself within a few months.
Drainage tubes and bandages will be removed by Dr. Pinsky at one of many follow up appointments that will be necessary in the first few weeks. The sutures should be ready for removal within the first two weeks. Once the drainage tubes and bandages are removed, there might be uneven swelling, puffiness, and discoloration in the face and neck. In most cases, facial concealer and make up may be worn after the first week.
Follow Dr. Pinsky’s recommendations on activities and return to work instructions. It may take several months for all swelling to diminish and final results to be noticeable. Scarring should heal within 6 months to a year following a face lift.