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Alternative Names Return to topRhytidectomy; Cosmetic surgery of the face
Definition Return to top
A facelift is a surgical procedure to repair sagging, drooping, and wrinkled skin of the face and neck.
Description Return to top
Sagging or wrinkled skin occurs naturally with increasing age. Folds and fat deposits appear around the neck, and deep creases form between the nose and mouth. The jawline grows "jowly" and slack. Heredity, poor diet, smoking, or obesity can contribute to early or severe skin problems.
A facelift can help repair some of the visible signs of aging. Fixing damage to skin, fat, and muscles can restore a "younger" look. A facelift can be done alone or with nose reshaping, a forehead lift, or eyelid surgery.
While you are sleepy (sedated) and pain-free (local anesthesia), or deep asleep and pain-free (general anesthesia), the plastic surgeon will make incisions above the hairline at the temples, behind the earlobe, to the lower scalp.
The surgeon removes some of the fat tissue and loose skin, then stitches (sutures) the incisions closed. The fat tissue is called the SMAS layer and is the main lifting part of the facelift.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
People who have a facelift are not satisfied with the signs of aging on their face, but are in otherwise good health.
Risks Return to top
Risks for any anesthesia are:
After the Procedure Return to top
Most patients are pleased with the results.
The doctor may temporarily place a small, thin drainage tube under the skin behind the ear to drain any blood that might collect there. Your head will be wrapped loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling. You should not have much discomfort after surgery, and you can relieve any discomfort you do feel with pain medication. Some numbness of the skin is normal and will disappear in a few weeks or months.
Your head will be raised on two pillows (or at a 30-degree angle) for a couple of days after surgery to keep the swelling down. The drainage tube will be removed 1 - 2 days after surgery if one was inserted. Bandages are usually removed after 1 - 5 days. Your face will look pale, bruised, and puffy, but in 4 - 6 weeks it will look normal.
Most of the stitches will be removed in 5 days. The stitches or metal clips in the hairline might be left in for a few extra days if the scalp takes longer to heal.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
You will have swelling, bruising, skin discoloration, tenderness, and numbness for 10 - 14 days after the surgery. Most of the surgical scars are hidden in the hairline or the natural lines of the face and will fade over time. Your doctor will probably advise you to limit your sun exposure.Update Date: 10/19/2007 Updated by: Hebe Molmenti, M.D., Ph.D., Private Practice specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.