Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)
The face lift procedure can dramatically improve sagging skin of the cheek, jowls, and neck. It especially tightens the neckline and decreases the deep folds around the mouth. The face lift procedure can be performed alone, or in conjunction with other aesthetic procedures, such as eyelid surgery or nasal reshaping.
An incision in the area of the temple hair, just above the front the ear, and then continues around the lobe, circling the ear before returning to the point of origin in the scalp (actual placement of incisions will vary from patient to patient). The skin is raised outward, the underlying muscle and connecting tissue is repositioned and tightened. Some fat may be removed, as well as excess skin. For men, the incision is aligned to accommodate the natural beard lines. In all cases, the incision is placed where it will fall in a natural crease of the skin for camouflage. After trimming the excess skin, the incision is closed with fine sutures and/or metal clips, which permit surgery without shaving hair from the incision line. Depending on the extent of the surgery, the process can take from two to four hours. When the procedure is performed with a combination of mild sedatives, local anesthesia, and a mild intravenous anesthesia, the patient will experience little discomfort. Sometimes a general anesthesia is used for facelifts. Following the surgery, a dressing will be applied to protect the entire area where the incisions have been made.
Even though most patients experience very little pain after surgery, medication will still be prescribed. Some degree of swelling and bruising is unavoidable, and you will be instructed on the use of cold compresses to keep the swelling to a minimum. Any dressing will be removed within one to three days. You will be instructed to keep your head elevated when lying down, to avoid as much activity as possible, and to report any undue discomfort. Though there are few risks in face lift surgery and thousands are performed every year, some risk exists in any surgery.
All sutures and staples are usually removed 5 to 10 days following surgery.
Recovery usually takes two to three weeks, though many patients go back to work in two weeks. Scars are usually not noticeable after enough time has passed for them to mature. In any case, they are easily disguised in natural skin creases, by the hair, or in persistent cases, by makeup until total healing has occurred. Bear in mind that the aging process continues after surgery and that some relaxation of tissues will occur over the first few weeks.
Insurance does not generally cover surgery that is done purely for cosmetic reasons.