Your face is the first thing you present to the world, and it should ideally reflect the way you feel inside. Unfortunately, our busy, stressful lifestyle can aggravate the natural affects of gravity and aging, leading to our face becoming saggy and tired looking. The skin and muscles wrinkle and form expression lines, and fat accumulates where we don’t want it. We can develop jowls or a double chin. A facelift performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in Virginia is one effective way to help restore a youthful and rested appearance to your face.
The main benefit of a facelift is that it helps remove the more visible signs of aging in the face. More specifically, a facelift will help correct drooping cheeks, lax muscle tone in the face, displaced fat, jowls, creases that run from the nose to the mouth, lower eyelid creases, and double chins created by loose skin and fat.
Facelifts can be combined with other procedures, such as a neck lift, liposuction, dermal fillers, or a brow lift, for a more comprehensive treatment. You can also elect to undergo a mini-facelift, which targets aging in the lower part of the face, and is less invasive.
A traditional facelift will improve the appearance of the face from the lower eyelids to the jowls or jawline. A mini-facelift involves a smaller incision, and focuses on lifting the jowls, lower cheeks, jawline, and possibly the neck.
A mini-facelift is appropriate for younger patients who do not need a full facelift, and for those who want a less invasive procedure with less recovery time. The mini-facelift is not a good fit for every patient. Dr. Nukta will spend time with you in consultation to help you determine whether a full facelift vs. a mini-facelift is best for your desired results and existing situation.
The first thing that makes you a good candidate for facelift surgery is a desire to improve your appearance, combined with realistic expectations of the outcome. A facelift won’t stop the aging process altogether, and it won’t correct creases or sagging in the forehead area. You should also be pursuing plastic surgery for your own personal reasons, and not because someone else is prompting you.
Otherwise, you are a good candidate if you have moderate to advanced signs of aging in the face. These include deep creases under the eyes and between the nose and mouth, sagging skin, loose skin around the jaw and neck, and the formation of jowls. If you only have a few of these signs of aging, a mini-facelift might be for you. You have probably already tried non-surgical procedures or topical anti-aging products to combat the appearance of aging, but these are no longer as effective as you want them to be. Most facelift patients will be between their 40’s and 70’s, though there are younger and older patients who might qualify for the procedure.
Good candidates for a facelift are in good overall health, and are close to their ideal weight. You should be a non-smoker, or be willing to stop smoking for several weeks before and after surgery.
Your surgeon will order a few lab tests to make sure you are in good health before surgery. You may need to get a check-up with your family doctor, as well. If you are a smoker, stop smoking at least six weeks before surgery (smoking can interfere with the healing process and make your recovery much longer). You will have a pre-operative consultation with your surgeon to go over your post-operative care and to schedule your post-operative check-up. Your doctor may adjust any medications or dietary supplements you are currently taking so they won’t interfere with your anesthesia.
Once you get to the surgical center at the appointed time, you will be prepped for surgery. You will be given the anesthesia that was decided upon by you and your doctor.
The surgeon will make the initial incision, the location of which depends on whether or not you’re having a traditional facelift or a mini-facelift. A traditional facelift incision starts at the temples, goes along the hairline and under the earlobe, and stops in the lower hairline. A mini-facelift incision is generally smaller, running around the lower part of the ear and just behind and in front of it. Both incisions are hidden either in the hairline or in the natural contours of the ear and face. They should be practically invisible once they fully heal.
Once the incision is made, the surgeon will lift the muscles, fat, and other tissue layers and reposition them to tighten the sagging and creasing in the face. He will then remove any excess fat or redistribute it as needed. The skin is then replaced over the newly-tightened tissues, and excess skin is removed. If you are having additional procedures like dermal fillers or a brow lift, those are also performed.
The incision will then be closed and you will be taken to recovery until the anesthesia wears off.
Immediately upon waking up from the surgery, you might feel groggy or nauseous as the effects of the anesthesia wear off. Your face will probably feel tight or be tender, and the surgeon might have placed a large bandage over the incision site. There may be a drainage tube inserted into the surgical site, which will be removed later. Some patients will have a compression bandage placed around the surgical site, which will help keep swelling down.
In the next few days after a facelift, you will have some swelling, tenderness, and possibly bruising. Your surgeon will give you a prescription to help manage any pain. He might also give you an antibiotic to help prevent a post-surgical infection. You’ll want to take it easy for the first two days after surgery. The swelling will start to fade after about three days. Make sure to drink plenty of water, sleep with several pillows, and avoid high-salt foods (these steps help with swelling). Wear button-down shirts so you don’t have to tug anything over your face. Don’t wash your face, scrub your hair, or brush your hair with too much force.
Most facelift patients are able to return to their normal routine about two weeks after the surgery. The tissues in the face will continue to settle into their new position after that, but the final results of your facelift will be visible after about four months.
A facelift is a surgical procedure, and like any surgery, there are risks involved. These risks include a reaction to the anesthesia, infection, bleeding, scarring, nerve damage, facial asymmetry, skin discoloration, numbness in the skin, or the need for future revisional surgery. There are steps you can take to help minimize the chances of these complications from forming, and your surgeon will take about the risks in more detail during your consultation.
The first way you can minimize the risk of complications with a facelift is to select a Board Certified plastic surgeon. Board Certified surgeons have the proper training and experience, and will take all necessary precautions to minimize the risk of complications during your surgery. A Board Certified surgeon will also work with you in regards to your post-operative care, coaching you on the proper steps you can take to ensure the best outcome of your procedure.
Board certified surgeons will be up-to-date on the best surgical techniques, such as how to avoid major nerves during the surgery, therefore avoiding nerve damage. Properly qualified surgeons will also perform your surgery in a quality surgical facility, and will perform all required sterilization steps during the procedure. Antibiotics will be given to prevent infection, as well. You can help prevent infection at home by taking your medication as directed, and by following post-op instructions about wound care and dressing changes.
In fact, it is vital that you follow all post-operative instructions in order to minimize the risk of complications. Returning to work too early, doing too much activity too quickly, and being too vigorous with the skin around the incision call all lead to difficulties in the healing process. If you have questions about the instructions you have received, call our office immediately for clarification.
If you have any other questions about the facelift or mini-facelift, or would like to schedule a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in Northern Virginia, please call our office at (703) 574-2588.