What is a facelift procedure and how is it performed?

A facelift procedure can help men and women to overcome the visual effects of gravity, sun exposure and the signs of ageing on the face and jowl area.

A facelift is one of the most commonly performed facial cosmetic procedures and is often performed as a result of a patient feeling self conscious about his or her ageing facial appearance. This procedure can be performed singularly or in combination with other procedures such as laser resurfacing, brow lift surgery or blepharoplasty (eye bag removal procedures). The ultimate objective is for the surgeon to create a natural, youthful, fresh facial and jowl appearance by removing slack skin, tightening up loose facial muscle and removing unwanted fatty deposits.

How is a facelift procedure performed?

A facelift procedure involves the surgical refining of ageing facial features by placing an incision above the hairline at the temple region, which extends down in front or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear, and then runs behind the earlobe and up into the hairline on the lower scalp area.

These incisions allow the surgeon access to the facial muscle and its fibrous attachments, which are sutured (stitched) tightly in front and behind the ear, to create a firm sling under the chin and around the jowl area. Slack skin is then precisely and meticulously removed, and if necessary, unwanted fat is also removed from under the chin area with a minor liposuction technique. The remaining skin is then re-draped over the newly defined features and carefully sutured back into place.

This procedure is usually performed under general anaesthetic and will commonly involve one or occasionally two nights stay in hospital. Under normal conditions a typical facelift procedure will take around 2 hours to perform.

What kind of men and women request this procedure?

  • Middle aged and older men and women who are unhappy with their general ageing appearance
  • Younger men and women who suffer from premature lines and wrinkles caused by excessive sun exposure, smoking and hereditary factors

What are the results of a facelift like?

This procedure can provide excellent results. Excess, loose and wrinkled skin will be removed and the profile and general appearance of the remaining underlying tissue, facial skin and contours will look more youthful, smoother and firmer.

This advanced corrective procedure is very precise and reasonably lengthy and should only be performed by a Consultant Plastic Surgeon who is fully qualified and well experienced to skilfully perform this type of surgery.

Improved results will take place almost immediately following surgery, but will be obscured by the inevitable neck and facial bruising and swelling which typically follow any facial surgery. It can take up to 14 days for this initial swelling and bruising to settle to an acceptable appearance. After initial swelling has settled down, subtle improvements to the contour of the newly shaped face and neck area will take place for up to six months following surgery.

How will you feel after a facelift procedure and what is the recovery period like?

Following a facelift procedure incision areas are often quite tender for several weeks following surgery.

Analgesic tablets (pain killers) are always provided for any discomfort and patients are encouraged to stay as upright as possible during their early recovery stage and to use cold compresses to help diminish residual swelling. Patients usually describe the way they feel as "tight and uncomfortable" rather than experiencing specific pain.

Any post-operative discomfort tends to diminish rapidly after clips and sutures are removed (typically after 7-14 days following surgery). Most surgeons firmly bandage the face and jaw area for the first 48 hours following surgery to minimise the development of swelling and to help reduce facial discomfort.

Patients will be advised to take a specific amount of recovery time away from work, dependent on the type of work they perform, but it is usual to take at least a fortnight off to rest and recover at home. Patients are also asked to totally avoid direct sunbathing on the facial area for 12 months following surgery.

Are there any risks involved in facelift surgery?

All surgery involves an element of risk from developing complications. However, cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken voluntarily and only when a patient is in good health. Therefore, the probability of experiencing complications following this kind of surgery is substantially lower than for those who undergo surgery due to ill health.

Risks such as bleeding, infection, delayed healing, alteration in sensitivity and scarring will all be discussed openly at consultation, as well as our scrupulous efforts to manage and minimise these risks.

Mostly, the fine incisions and subsequent scars made during surgery are well hidden in the hairline and behind the ear. The recovery and appearance of scars (which generally fade progressively after surgery) are a highly individual matter. Usually these fine scars mature, soften and fade to a negligible level. Occasionally, patients can develop firm, raised discoloured scarring, known as hypertrophic or keloid scarring, which may require further corrective treatment, although the results cannot be guaranteed.

It is often reported that altered sensitivity and numbness to skin around the wound areas are a common side effect for up to 12 months following facelift surgery.

Due to the additional healing and infection risks experienced with patients who smoke, smokers may be precluded from having a facelift until they cease or substantially reduce their daily cigarette intake.

What next?

The importance of a thorough pre-operative consultation with the actual Consultant Plastic Surgeon who will perform your operation cannot be over stressed. At One Healthcare each consultation is tailored to an individual's needs. The consultation will always involve a thorough evaluation of your present and past medical history and a physical examination of the area of concern.

The surgeon will take time to listen to your concerns and take care to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of what can be done to help, the procedure itself, the recovery stages and a clear explanation of the risks involved. You will need time to consider all these factors before making a decision regarding face lift surgery.

You are positively encouraged to ask any questions that you may have and to look at photographs of others who have had the same type of surgery that you are considering. If you would find it helpful, our advisory team may be able to arrange for you to speak with a previous One Healthcare patient who is willing to discuss their experience with you over the telephone.

How to arrange a consultation with a fully qualified Consultant Surgeon with GMC specialist registration

Please feel free to call our Customer Service Advisory Team at your local One Healthcare Hospital who will be pleased to answer any queries, or make an appointment for you to meet with a Consultant Surgeon who has specialist skills and experience in facelift surgery.

Our Customer Advisory Service is personally manned between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. We will also be happy to discreetly return your call if you leave a short message, forwarding name and telephone number on our confidential answer phone after office hours.

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