A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as:

  • Sagging in the middle of your face
  • Deep creases below the lower eyelids
  • Deep creases along the nose extending to the corner of the mouth
  • Fat that has fallen or has disappeared
  • Loss of skin tone in the lower face that creates jowls
  • Loose skin and excess fatty deposits under the chin and jaw can give even a person of normal weight the appearance of a double chin


The face lift or rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove these wrinkles, called rhytids, along with deposits from the face, jaw, and neck so people can look their best.

The loss of youthful contours in the face can be due to a variety of factors, including heredity, gravity, environmental conditions, and stress.

Rejuvenation procedures typically performed in conjunction with a facelift are brow lift, to correct a sagging or deeply furrowed brow, and eyelid surgery to rejuvenate aging eyes.

Face lifts are becoming more popular. Both men and women (usually aged 40 or older) are having face lifts in record numbers. While such procedures will improve appearances, it’s important for people considering a face lift to have realistic expectations about the surgery, what’s involved, the recovery process, and how they will look afterward.

The end result is a smoother, more youthful appearance. And because a face lift addresses the underlying structure of the face, the results are fairly long-lasting, usually between five to 10 years.

Liposuction, used to remove focal deposits of fat in the face, often in the area between the chin and neck, can be done at the same time as a face lift or separately.

A facelift won’t do

As a restorative surgery, a facelift does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the aging process.

A facelift can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results, but may help delay the time at which a facelift becomes appropriate and complement the results of surgery.

New Advances Changing Face Lift Procedure

New surgical techniques are changing the way the face lift is performed. These advances promise that cosmetic procedures in the future will be safer, less painful, and more effective.

Lasers: A face-lift procedure called laser neck and jowl liposculpture, and platysma resurfacing, uses lasers and can be done through a one-inch incision under the chin using only a local anesthetic.

Endoscopy: Endoscopic techniques are currently being used to do face lifts and brow lifts. This allows for smaller incisions, less trauma to tissues, and a quicker recovery time. Facial structures are raised without cutting away flaps of skin. Currently, endoscopy is an option only for people whose skin is still somewhat tight and elastic.

Facelift costs can vary widely.

A surgeon’s fee may vary based on his or her experience.

Most health insurance does not cover tummy tuck surgery or its complications.

The cost of facelift surgery may include:
  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Prescriptions for medication, and
  • Medical tests

When choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon for eyelid surgery, remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the surgery.

In general, good candidates for a facelift include:

  • Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that impair healing
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations

Immediately after surgery:

  • Dressings are placed along the incision lines and the head is wrapped in a bandage, which helps reduce swelling. These bandages are removed a day or two later.
  • Your head will be elevated to reduce swelling.
  • Most patients experience little discomfort after a face lift, but will still appear bruised and swollen for a few days. If you feel discomfort, you will be given medication for pain.

Sutures are removed about five to 10 days after surgery. Incisions and bandages must be kept dry. The surgeon will give you specific instructions about how to bathe and wash your hair. Once the sutures are taken out, you can use make-up. But you may not be allowed to use hair tints and hair dryers for some time.

Complete Recovery

Most people recover in two to three weeks. During this time, bruises heal and swelling goes down. Take it easy and avoid vigorous activity.
It’s normal to feel some numbness and muscle stiffness for some time, and complete return of sensation may take several months. Earrings should not be worn until sensation has returned to the earlobes.

Scars can take nearly a year to fade and soften. The hair should hide most of the scars. Make-up and jewelry can camouflage other scarring.

Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully after surgery regarding bathing, your activities, use of make-up and more. Doing so will speed the healing process and allow for the best possible result from your face lift. If you develop a fever or other complications, call your doctor right away

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period.

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
  • When will they be removed?
  • Are stitches removed? When?
  • When can I wear make-up?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When can I see my stylist for hair color and cut?

It may take a few months for swelling to fully dissipate and for incision lines to mature.

Facelift Before & After Photos

Life-long sun protection and a healthy lifestyle will help extend the results of your rejuvenated, more youthful appearance.

As swelling and bruising subside, the visible improvements of a facelift appear. Your final result should not only provide a more youthful and rested appearance, but also help you feel more confident about yourself.

Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.

It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Avoid wearing any clothing that must go over your head.

Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

The face lift (rhytidectomy) is done to tighten the skin of the face and remove large creases and wrinkles that have formed around the nose and mouth. The face and neck are usually treated at the same time, and the procedure is sometimes called a face-and-neck lift.

Face lift surgery can last from two to five hours.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

A variety of other procedures can further enhance the outcome of a facelift. They include:

  • Facial implants or fat transfer
  • Soft tissue augmentation to recontour the facial structure
  • Resurfacing techniques to improve the tone and texture of facial skin
  • Wrinkle reduction by injection of fat or fillers

Step 2 – The incisions

Depending on the degree of change you’d like to see, your facelift choices include a traditional facelift, limited incision facelift or a neck lift.

A traditional facelift incision often begins in the hairline at the temples, continues around the ear and ends in the lower scalp. Fat may be sculpted or redistributed from the face, jowls and neck, and underlying tissue is repositioned, commonly the deeper layers of the face and the muscles are also lifted. Skin is redraped over the uplifted contours and excess skin is trimmed away.

A second incision under the chin may be necessary to further improve an aging neck. Sutures or skin adhesives close the incisions.

Traditional Facelift


An alternative to a traditional facelift uses shorter incisions at the temples, continuing around the ear and possibly within the lower eyelids or under the upper lip.

Limited Incision



Sagging jowls, loose neck skin and fat accumulation under the chin may be corrected with a neck lift. The neck lift incision often begins in front of the ear lobe and wraps around behind the ear ending in the lower scalp.

Neck Lift


Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Once healed, the incision lines from a facelift are well concealed within the hairline and in the natural contours of the face and ear.

Step 4 – See the results

The visible improvements of a facelift appear as swelling and bruising subside. Your final result should not only restore a more youthful and rested appearance, but also help you feel more confident about yourself. Get more information about facelift results..

The decision to have a facelift is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals, and if the risks and potential complications of a facelift are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.

Facelift risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing and skin loss
  • Facial nerve injury with weakness
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss at the incisions
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Persistent pain
  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Skin irregularities and discoloration
  • Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation require removal
  • Unsatisfactory results may include: asymmetry, unsatisfactory surgical scar location and unacceptable visible deformities at the ends of the incisions. (It may be necessary to perform an additional surgery to improve your results)
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

If surgeon uses fibrin sealants (tissue glue)

Fibrin sealants (made from heat-treated human blood components to inactivate virus transmission) are used to hold tissue layers together at surgery and to diminish post-operative bruising following surgery.

This product is carefully produced from donor blood plasma screened for hepatitis, syphilis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Cardiovascular and general surgeons have used fibrin sealants in their procedures for many years.

This product is thought to be of help in diminishing surgical bleeding by adhering layers of tissue together.

During your facelift consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies, and medical treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
  • Previous surgeries


Your surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Discuss your facelift options
  • Examine and measure your face
  • Take photographs
  • Recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of a facelift and any risks or potential complications
  • Discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used


It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

In preparing for a facelift, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding


Special instructions you receive will cover:

  • What to do on the night before and morning of surgery
  • The use of anesthesia during your facelift
  • Post-operative care and follow-up

A facelift may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.

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