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Facelift and Neck Lift

Learn More About Facelifts and Neck Lifts

There is much confusion about the procedure we call “facelift”. Just what is a facelift? Does it really lift the entire face? What is a “partial lift” versus a “mini-lift”? What about these smaller in-office lifts or the ones you see advertised on television?If you continue reading this, you will soon understand just what a facelift really is. Anytime we perform a surgical procedure designed to help support the tissues of the face that have begun to sag due to the aging process, then this becomes a type of facelift.

Some are more extensive than others, and some are rather minor. Choosing the best technique for an individual patient depends on factors such as age, facial structure, sun damage and the hopes and goals of that patient for improvement.The older one becomes, with more extensive loss of support, then a “bigger procedure” is necessary. But many younger patients request a more youthful face but do not want to wait until their aging is advanced, and therefore, a more limited but earlier procedure serves them best.

The best facelifts are natural looking, do not involve changing how a person really looks, and require a limited amount of healing and downtime, in our opinion. The goal is an improved appearance, and not a changed appearance.

The “plastic” or pulled look that was the signature of a facelift of old is no longer the result now being obtained. In fact, the best lifts often go unnoticed: the patient simply looks fresher, younger, and rested.And while fillers and other less invasive procedures do sometimes “buy” a patient time, they cannot take the place of a surgical lift. A facelift can improve support for the skin and other soft tissues, helps smooth the jaw line tightens up the neck and gives a “slimmer” appearance to the face.Another way of describing this is to turn back the clock of age, improving the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and re-draping the skin of your lower face and neck.

Note: we are not trying to create beauty. We are simply trying to remove the external unwanted aging changes that have begun to conceal the beauty that has been there all along.Typically, most facelift candidates are in their 40s, 50s or 60s. In certain cases the procedure can be performed on older individuals depending on the health and vitality of that patient. However, best results are achieved with patients who still have relatively good skin elasticity and a strong facial bone structure. In preparation for facelift surgery, you will need to abstain from smoking one month prior to the procedure and at least one month during the recovery period in order to increase the circulation necessary for normal healing.Also, there are other factors each patient is asked to control such as the consumption of aspirin, other anti-inflammatory drugs and many herbs and supplements prior to surgery since these drugs may lead to increased bleeding during the course of the facelift.

The Surgery

A facelift can be done alone, or in conjunction with other facial procedures such as forehead lifts, eyelid surgery and/or skin resurfacing. Anesthesia for a typical lift is usually a deep sedation type (“twilight”) with an anesthesiologist.  A general anesthetic can be utilized if it appears to be in the best interest of a given patient. Incisions are carefully made around the ears, and into the hairline. The muscle layer beneath the cheek and neck skin is identified and supported with strategically placed sutures.The surgery usually last approximately three hours, followed by time in a recovery room. Some of our patients are discharged home while it is the best interests of others to spend one evening. Although a facelift will improve and enhance the contour of your face and jaw line, it will not correct sun or wind damage or fine wrinkles that have developed on the skin’s surface. To treat these conditions, additional skin care will be needed, which is available at the Chatham Facial Plastic Surgery. See our skin care and laser section of this site. These options can be discussed during your initial consultation.Note that in some younger patients who are primarily interested in a lesser procedure, we may recommend a “Little Lift”. In these cases, the best option may be an in-office procedure taking about 90 minutes, using local anesthesia. Many patients take some Valium preop for relaxation. Smaller incisions and fewer sutures are used. Healing is quicker and return to activities is quicker, as well. Not every patient is a good candidate for this. But it may right for those wanting an improvement but not an entire facelift. (Human nature desires the simplest way with the maximum effect. We understand this but we are not magicians! We strongly encourage our patients to remain realistic.)

We take all of our surgeries very seriously, striving for improvement but also safety and comfort. Pros and cons, including risks and possible complications, will be discussed with each preoperative patient. We make every effort to keep problems to a minimum.

The Recovery

There is some discomfort the evening of surgery, and analgesics are helpful. The following morning a wrap- around dressing is removed by Dr. Chatham. Written instructions are given to each patient and family. Swelling and bruising usually peak at 3 days, and one looks better at about one week when sutures are removed. However, most patients require about 2 weeks of time before healing is to the point where they can drive, get out socially or return to work.As bruising and swelling fade within 2 or 3 weeks, makeup can be applied (even some men will use a concealer temporarily if necessary). As with any facial surgery, healing continues for about one year as small irregularities settle and sensation in the skin and ears improves.After the recuperation period many of our patients say, “I wish I’d done it sooner.”

Many patients ask, “How long will it last?” This depends on many factors –age, heredity, physical and emotional stress levels, sun & cigarette smoke exposure—and it is impossible to predict how a person will age over the ensuing years. But in general, if a patient had an identical twin with identical health and lifestyles, and one twin had a face lift and the other did not, then the one who did will for many many years appear to the “young twin”. Plus, follow-up procedures (“tuck ups”) can be performed to keep you looking as good as you can for even many more years. Call today to schedule an initial consultation with Donn Chatham M.D. at the Chatham Facial Plastic Surgery. Don’t let wear and tear or age -related flaws conceal your vigor and your inner facial beauty!