There are many popular misconceptions about facelifts. Most people are worried that a facelift will change their appearance, make them look like they have had plastic surgery or make the face look ‘windblown’. In fact, when a facelift is done well, none of the above are true. In fact the modern facelift techniques I use will restore a youthful, rejuvenated facial shape. A facelift works by repositioning fat pads that have sagged down the face with age and removing excess skin to eliminate wrinkles and jowls. On average a facelift takes ten years off a person’s apparent age.
Who is suitable for a facelift?
The ideal candidate for a facelift is someone who has an excess of skin, has lost volume and wishes to have a surgical procedure to remove any permanent facial lines. There is no ideal age to have a facelift as every face ages differently. Both men and women may consider a face lift. I will listen to your concerns and then examine you before advising you on the most appropriate treatment.
Is it possible to have a facelift without scars?
There are many cosmetic doctors offering ‘non-surgical’ facelifts using threads, cones or other temporary fixes +/- Botox or fillers. These techniques promise a lot but can in no way remove excess skin or tighten the underlying tissues to provide a long term result. The only way to remove excess skin is by excising it and this leaves a scar. There are many different types of surgical facelift and different patterns of skin excision, all of which your surgeon will discuss with you at surgery.
What does the operation involve?
A facelift is carried out under sedation or general anaesthetic and typically takes around 3 hours depending on the individual patient’s requirements.
Short scar or ‘MACS’ facelift
An incision is made in the natural skin crease in front of the ear and into the hairline just above the ear. Through this incision, the skin is lifted off the layer just deep to the skin which can then be tensioned using several looped sutures to lift the deeper facial tissues. The skin excess is then carefully re-draped and redundant skin is removed before closing the incision without tension. If necessary, extra volume can be added to the cheek area using fat transfer to restore a youthful fullness to the cheeks.
Some patients will have a significant amount of skin that needs to be removed as part of a facelift and also will need the neck area to be tightened at the same time as the rest of the face. The incision will be in front of the ear as for a short scar lift and will continue into the hairline behind the ear, with most of the incision hidden in the crease behind the ear. This approach allows me to improve the definition of the jawline and to discretely remove larger amounts of excess skin than can be achieved with a short scar lift.
Full face and necklift
A combined face and necklift allows me to tighten the tissues in front of the neck in the midline and to divide any prominent vertical bands in the neck as well as remove excess fat that are seen with the aging neck.
What happens after the operation?
You will usually be able to go home the same day as your surgery. I do not routinely use drains for facelift surgery. Please leave all dressings intact until you return to the clinic. After 1 week you should be in minimal discomfort and be able to return to light duties at work at 1 – 2 weeks. We ask that you refrain from strenuous activity or exercise until 6 weeks after your surgery. Bruising and discoloration of the face may be visible for the first 2 weeks. The face will initially be swollen and this will subside over 2 weeks.
How long do the results last?
A facelift has an immediate effect by ‘resetting the clock’ ten years earlier. However, the ageing process will continue so that after ten years or so the face will return to the appearance it had before the surgery.
What are the risks of a facelift?
Facelift surgery is low risk however it cannot be carried out without scarring which in minority of patients can be unsightly. Fortunately, all scars improve with time. Other risks in the immediate aftermath of surgery are bleeding, bruising, swelling, delayed healing and infection. Nobody’s face is truly symmetrical and it is possible for there to be some asymmetry after surgery. Damage to the nerves that move the muscles in the face is a very rare complication which would lead to temporary or permanent paralysis of one side of the face. This is why it is important to choose a surgeon that is properly qualified.