A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that repositions and tightens skin on the face, resulting in a more youthful appearance. A facelift also removes lines around the eyes and mouth and accentuates the natural contours of the face, such as the cheekbones. Facelifts tighten skin on the neck and under the chin, making skin appear firmer and smoother.
To perform a facelift, surgeons make incisions at each temple and extend them to the front of the ear and the area behind the earlobe. Through these incisions, surgeons remove fat deposits and reposition facial and muscle tissues beneath the skin to contour the face. Surgeons then tighten the skin to make it look smoother.
After the skin has been repositioned, surgeons close the incisions with stitches. Surgery takes between two and three hours.
When appropriate, our surgeons may perform a mini facelift, also called a short scar or limited incision facelift. In this less invasive approach, surgeons make smaller incisions around the temples and ears. The smaller incision size minimizes postoperative scarring and may result in a shorter recovery time.
Surgeons determine if a person is eligible for a mini facelift based on his or her age, facial structure, and the extent of rejuvenation desired. Surgery takes the same amount of time as a standard facelift—between two and three hours.
Surgeons perform SMAS facelifts by repositioning muscle as well as skin. SMAS stands for superficial muscular aponeurotic system, a technical term for the muscles that control facial movements. By adjusting this layer of muscle as well as a layer of skin, surgeons have more control over how the new contours of the face look.
Surgeons use the same incisions they use for a traditional facelift. Surgery takes between three and four hours.
What to Expect After a Facelift
After surgery, your face is covered in bandages, and small plastic tubes are placed near the incisions to drain fluid. Doctors may prescribe pain medication for one week to ensure that you recover comfortably.
A follow-up appointment is scheduled for 24 hours after surgery, so surgeons can remove the drainage tubes and bandages. Surgeons also examine your skin as it begins to heal. There may be some redness, bruising, and swelling, which fades over the following weeks.
For the next five to six days, you recover at home. After two days, you can shower. After one week, doctors remove the stitches holding the incisions closed. Additional follow-up appointments are scheduled for two and three weeks after surgery, so doctors can monitor how your skin heals and address any complications, such as infection.
During the first few weeks, your face may look bruised and red. The redness starts to fade after two weeks, and most people appear to be healed after three weeks. The skin and muscles heal completely after six weeks.