A rhytidectomy, commonly referred to as a facelift or a neck lift, is a procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck such as sagging, folding lines between the nose and corner of the mouth, loose skin and excess fat in the neck (known as the double chin). This surgery returns a more youthful look and contour to the face and neck and majorly reduces the appearance of age.
There are several types of incisions and techniques for a rhytidectomy that minimally differ. Dr. Campos-Leon will discuss these options during consultation before the procedure.
What is the facelift for?
The facelift is a surgical procedure that is used to reduce expression lines on the face, eliminate some signs of aging and generally improve the appearance of the face and the jaw area. There are different types of face lift surgeries, which are mini, lower and medium. In order to choose the most appropriate type of surgery, it is important to consider the specific areas to be corrected, the amount of time you wish to spend in recovery, and your expectations regarding the appearance of the face once the procedure is completed.
What does this surgery consist of?
A facelift can be done alone or in conjunction with other procedures such as a brow lift, liposuction, nasal surgery, or eyelid surgery. This surgery lasts between 2 to 5 hours, depending on the area or areas to be treated (forehead, third, midface or neck).
Preparing for this surgery is important so that you can stay relaxed and healthy before and after the procedure. Two weeks before surgery it is important to stop smoking and to stop taking certain medications (as the case may be). Specific pre surgical instructions will be provided by the surgeon.
In the beginning of the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision, usually above the hairline, and separates the facial skin from the underlying tissue to remove excess fat and skin and tighten the adjacent muscles in order to improve the contour and appearance of the patient’s face. Once this is done, the skin is put back in place with stitches or staples, and the treated area is wrapped with bandages. The removal of this accumulated fat and excess skin results in a noticeable reduction of loose skin and fine lines on the face.
Who is a candidate for this procedure?
The ideal candidates for a facelift are those who share the desire to improve the appearance of their face, who are looking for methods to get rid of wrinkles and excess skin on their face in order to look younger and more refreshed. There is no set age to perform a facelift. In fact, the condition and texture of the skin are the most important factors when it comes to having a procedure like this one.
It is important to attend an evaluation consultation with a plastic surgeon so that he or she can determine if the person is a good candidate or not. The best candidates share some important traits:
Good health: That a person is in good health is an extremely important factor to be able to undergo this and any other type of procedure, in fact this is the most important factor to consider.
Elasticity in the skin: The skin of an ideal candidate must retain its flexibility. This is important since the skin is stretched in order to be able to eliminate wrinkles, so a successful healing with good results depends on the skin being flexible .
Loose skin on the face and neck: This is something that most patients interested in this procedure have, as it is the main reason why patients want to undergo this type of treatment.
Realistic expectations: An ideal candidate for this procedure is one who has realistic expectations regarding the results of the facelift, because, despite the fact that this surgery is specially designed to be able to reverse the signs of aging, it also has its limitations and cannot completely stop aging. A good surgeon will take care of making all of this known to the patient and providing all the information they need to keep their expectations realistic.
What kind of anesthesia is used?
The facelift is regularly performed as an outpatient procedure and can be performed under local anesthesia, as this gives patients the ability to remain relatively alert during the facelift. On some occasions, if the procedure is more invasive, the use of total anesthesia or a combination of local anesthesia and a sedative may be required.
Most of the time the duration of the surgery is what determines whether it will be necessary to use local or total anesthesia. It is important to know that most of the complications associated with this procedure are due to negative reactions to anesthesia, so it is important that the patient and the surgeon have a prior discussion about the risks of this procedure.
What is the necessary aftercare?
Following the procedure, bandages and compresses may be placed around the face to minimize swelling and bruising. Dr. Campos-Leon will provide more details about aftercare following the procedure.
The approximate recovery time to return to daily activities is five to ten days. In the first two days following the surgery it is necessary to use cold compresses in the treated areas. Some restrictions to follow during the recovery period are: do not sunbathe for at least a month and refrain from any exertion for a few days. The patient can perform light exercise at approximately 4 weeks, and vigorous exercise between 6 and 8 weeks after surgery.
Facelift healing and recovery time can last from a week to several, depending on the type of facelift surgery you have undergone.
Are there risks?
While face lift surgery is considered relatively safe, there are certain complications and risks, just like any other surgical procedure.
After facelift surgery, complications can sometimes occur. Most of the time these are temporary and can include retention of blood or fluid under the skin, crusting of scars, and numbness. The risk of nerve damage or infection after a facelift is low, but it does exist. To avoid any type of complication, it is important to go to a professional and express all the concerns that may arise about the procedure.
The skin type and the age of the patient greatly influence the results of the facelift, therefore it is important that people who wish to undergo this type of treatment express their expectations to the surgeon, so that they can give them an idea of the results that can be expected. It is important to note that the skin will continue to age after the procedure and that facelift scars are unavoidable, although the surgeon will do their best to keep them as inconspicuous as possible.