A face-lift (rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgical procedure to create a younger appearance in your face. The procedure can reduce the sagging or folds of skin on the cheeks and jawline and other changes in the shape of your face that occur with age.
During a face-lift, a flap of skin on each side of the face is pulled back, and tissues below the skin are surgically altered to return the contour of the face to a more youthful shape. Before the flap is sutured closed, excess skin is removed.
A neck lift (platysmaplasty) is often done as part of a face-lift to reduce fat deposits and sagging skin on the neck.
A face-lift won't decrease fine creases or wrinkles in your skin or damage from sun exposure. Other cosmetic procedures can address the appearance or quality of the skin itself.
During a face-lift, facial soft tissues are lifted, excess skin is removed and skin is draped back over the newly repositioned contours. Incisions can be made in the hairline starting at the temples, continuing down and around the front of the ears and ending behind the ears in the lower scalp.
As you get older, the appearance and shape of your face is altered because of normal age-related changes. Your skin becomes less elastic and looser, and fat deposits decrease in some areas of your face and increase in others. Age-related changes in your face that may be reduced with a face-lift include the following:
A face-lift isn't a treatment for superficial wrinkles, sun damage, creases around the nose and upper lip, or irregularities in skin color.
A face-lift surgery can cause complications. Some can be managed with appropriate care, medication or surgical correction. Long-term or permanent complications, while rare, can cause significant changes in appearance. The risks include:
Like any other type of major surgery, a face-lift poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Certain medical conditions or lifestyle habits also can increase your risk of complications. The following factors may present a significant risk or result in unfavorable results, and your doctor may advise against a face-lift.
Initially, you'll talk to a plastic surgeon about a face-lift. The visit will likely include:
Before a face-lift:
A face-lift can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility.
Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.
In general, a face-lift involves elevating the skin and tightening the underlying tissues and muscles. Fat in the face and neck may be sculpted, removed or redistributed. Facial skin is then re-draped over the newly repositioned contours of the face, excess skin is removed, and the wound is stitched or taped closed.
The incisions for the procedure depend on the techniques that will be used and the patient's preferences. Options include:
A face-lift generally takes two to four hours but might take longer if other cosmetic procedures are done at the same time.
After a face-lift, you may experience:
Contact your doctor immediately if you have:
Your incisions will likely be covered with bandages that provide gentle pressure to minimize swelling and bruising. A small tube might be placed under the skin behind one or both of your ears to drain any excess blood or fluid.
In the first few days after surgery:
You will have several follow-up appointments scheduled during the next two months after surgery. They will include the following:
Self-care at home during the first three weeks will help your recovery and minimize the risk of complications:
In the weeks after a face-lift, you might style your hair to hide any remaining signs of the incision. You may also choose to delay attending major social events for a couple of months, when you are likely to feel back to normal.
A face-lift can give your face and neck a more youthful appearance. Face-lift results are not permanent. With age, the facial skin may begin to droop again. In general, a face-lift can be expected to last 10 years.