A facelift or rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure that corrects, skin laxity, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun and the stresses of daily life that make us look older than we feel.
What You See
Even though plastic surgery cannot make you younger it certainly can make your outward appearance match how young you act and feel. Over time you may have noticed your full checks flatten, your jowls resemble a bulldog and your neck looks like it belongs on a turkey. If you have the urge to say, “Mirror, mirror on the wall I look like my mother after all”, you are not alone. The visible signs of aging can be corrected by removing excess skin on your face and neck, tightening the muscle layers and redistributing fat. A facelift can be done alone or in conjunction with eyelid surgery or a forehead lift.
The Best Candidate
The best candidates for a facelift are a man or women ranging in age from 40-85 whose face and neck have begun to sag and are ready for a life change. You will need to have realistic expectations, be physically & psychologically healthy, non-smokers and can afford some “down time” for recovery. Just keep in mind that a facelift can make you look younger and enhance your self-confidence but you will not technically be younger! Risks and Complications All surgery carries some uncertainly and risk but when a facelift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon complications are infrequent and usually minor. Every person is different in their anatomy, healing ability and physical reaction so the outcome will also vary. The common, temporary effects of any surgical procedure can be expected and will include: swelling, pain, scarring, bruising, a feeling of tightness in the neck & face and fatigue from anesthesia. Multiple procedures can be done at the same time (i.e. eyelids, fat grafting, brow lift and facelift), which will increase recovery time and add proportionate risk.
Prior to your first appointment, you will be asked by the staff the register on My Touch MD, watch relevant videos and read information about the procedure you desire. The surgical consultation with Dr. Harrison will take about an hour. A surgical plan and a discussion of your goals will be agreed upon at this time. Photos will be taken, a detailed medical history and physical will be discussed and we always leave time for you to ask questions. After your surgery is scheduled you will have a pre-operative appointment to sign consent forms, review the surgical plan, receive prescriptions, discuss pre/post operative written instructions, have blood work done and make any final payments. Smoking cessation 4-6 weeks preoperatively is mandatory. You will also be encouraged to let your hair grow long enough to hide the scars.
A facelift is performed in the hospital operating room and will require at least one night stay as an in-patient. The surgery typically takes four to six hours but that will increase if other procedures like a blepharoplasty or brow lift are done at the same time. Surgical technique varies according to your soft tissue and desired results. The incisions are placed along the hairline and around the ear in natural skin creases to minimize visibility of scars. Occasionally an additional small incision under the chin may be needed. In general, the skin and fat are elevated away from the underlying muscle. Dr. Harrison will tighten the muscles with sutures, re-drape the skin and remove any excess. 90% of facelift surgeries require fat grafting to achieve a younger shaped face. A small, temporary drain is placed under the skin of your neck skin to minimize swelling. A facelift dressing is applied to help reduce bruising and control swelling. Some would say the dressing resembles a beehive!
The day after surgery, while you are still in the hospital, Dr. Harrison will remove your dressing and drain, assess your immediate results and reapply a lighter bandage before you will be discharged. You will need to have made prior arrangements for transportation home from the hospital and someone to help with your care. Dr. Harrison will instruct you to keep your head elevated for several days, do calf exercises and generally take it easy. Follow the post-operative instructions you were given before surgery. There isn’t usually significant pain with this procedure but more of a feeling of tightness and discomfort. Your sutures will be removed at your post-operative appointment five to six days after surgery. Avoid heating pads, which can inadvertently burn your skin. Getting Back to Normal Your activity level needs to be kept to a minimum for two weeks (no heavy lifting, stooping or straining) but you can get back to the gym in four weeks. Most people are presentable to go “out in public” or back to work two weeks after surgery. You may need to wear makeup to cover any residual bruising. The skin around your incision will be numb to the touch but that improves with time. It is normal to be swollen, easily fatigued and feel self conscious about your scars. Your features may appear distorted and it is not surprising that some patients are depressed and disappointed at first. By the third week you will turn the corner and begin to look/feel better. Hang in there. Smoking cessation is mandatory for at least 3 weeks post-operatively.
Chances are excellent that you’ll be happy with your facelift-if you keep in mind the results may not be immediately apparent. Final results can be anticipated at six months, so be patient. Once the bruising is gone you will notice the scars can be slightly pink for six months or more after surgery. Scars will fade to a thin white line that even you will have a hard time seeing. Men may find they have to shave in new places-behind the neck and ears- where areas of bear-growing skin have been repositioned. People may say you look like you have lost weight but not be able to tell you have had plastic surgery… unless you tell them. You can expect these results to last for many years so enjoy your youthful, refreshed look!
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