Facelift surgery, medically referred to as a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic procedure designed to make the face and neck look more youthful. This is accomplished by smoothing signs of facial aging, including loose skin, wrinkles, and jowls along the lower face and jawline. Over time, forces like gravity, sun exposure, use of tobacco, and simply the natural aging process can cause the skin to deteriorate and make individuals appear older than they actually are. Increased skin laxity, the thinning of tissue, lost facial volume, and wrinkles are among many factors that can mask a patient’s youthful features.
For those seeking a more refreshed look, facelift surgery can be a powerful solution to revitalize your appearance. This procedure is designed to reposition and reshape the underlying facial tissues, thereby tightening and smoothing the skin. Plastic surgeon Geoffrey Leber, MD, FACS performs a facelift to enhance your natural beauty, rather than alter the character of your face.
If you want to smooth signs of aging in the face and neck, a facelift may help you achieve the refreshed look you desire. Despite many preconceptions, there is no “appropriate” age to undergo a facelift. The procedure is typically suitable for patients who are in adequate health to undergo surgery and wish to improve the following concerns:
Dr. Leber personalizes facelift surgery to accommodate each patient’s respective needs. Those who exhibit milder signs of facial aging may be able to achieve their cosmetic ideal with less invasive options from our medical spa, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and JUVÉDERM® dermal fillers. These more conservative treatments can temporarily smooth wrinkles and restore lost facial volume for exceptional and natural-looking results. After diligently assessing your aesthetic concerns and unique anatomy, Dr. Leber can develop a treatment plan to comprehensively fulfill your goals in the most effective way possible.
Men and women considering facelift surgery have different needs, goals, and anatomical indicators; therefore, the best procedure for each patient will vary. A facelift is typically customized based on the extent of each person’s concerns and Dr. Leber will be able to discuss the most ideal procedure for you in a consultation.
While Dr. Leber usually performs a facelift under general anesthesia, some cases may allow for local anesthesia or sedation techniques. Depending on which area of the face is being addressed, Dr. Leber will carefully place incisions in the hairline of the temple or the earlobe to minimize visible scarring after the procedure. Lost volume in the upper face is replaced with facial fat grafting techniques. He will then reposition the layer of soft tissue covering the facial muscles in order to restore the youthful characteristics of your facial skin. Lax facial tissue is elevated in an upward vertical direction to reduce a jowl appearance and help restore the youthful shape of an inverted triangle. Excess skin and pockets of fat are removed, and the skin is carefully tightened over the area to avoid an “over-pulled” look and diminish a sagging facial appearance. Facelift surgery generally takes approximately three to four hours, but the estimated procedure time depends on the exact nature of your treatment plan.
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A facelift typically provides noticeable rejuvenation for 10 to 15 years, although the longevity of the results will depend on your unique rate of aging as well as your lifestyle. Patients who smoke, artificially tan, or spend long periods of time outdoors without sun protection may experience facial aging at a faster rate than others. The natural effects of age will continue after facelift surgery, but patients who have undergone the procedure usually experience lasting results and feel no need to undergo additional facial rejuvenation surgery. Dr. Leber recommends practicing a healthy lifestyle and using sunscreen, as well as other quality skin products, to maintain your youthful appearance well into the future.
Although cosmetic injectables are often used to refresh the face, there is currently no non-surgical facelift that can match the results of a surgical procedure. Minimally invasive alternatives can be effective temporarily, but a facelift is currently the gold standard in achieving years-long rejuvenation. That said, dermal fillers like JUVÉDERM® and Restylane® can be utilized to achieve mild enhancement for patients who wish to increase facial volume or fill wrinkles. These products are often used in complement with each other during a cosmetic treatment referred to as a “liquid facelift.” Touch-up sessions will be necessary to maintain the facial rejuvenation achieved, but injectables can be ideal for individuals who would rather avoid surgery and/or downtime.
There is no “perfect” age for a facelift, as everyone ages at a unique rate depending on their genetics and unique lifestyle factors. The need for a facelift is usually assessed based on whether you are bothered by certain indications of aging in the lower face and neck, such as sagging skin along the jawline, loose neck skin, or deep creases around the nose and mouth, among other concerns.
Generally speaking, patients who smoke or who regularly suntan may develop early signs of aging relatively faster than other individuals, even if they are both the same age. This is due to how certain activities may negatively affect the skin’s natural elasticity, sometimes causing loose skin and wrinkles to develop prematurely.
In some cases, patients can resolve their concerns with nothing more than non-surgical dermal fillers, while other individuals may consider a full facelift and neck lift to produce their desired outcome. The best way to know for sure whether you may benefit from a facelift is to consult with Dr. Leber in an initial appointment.
Although a facelift is considered the premier solution to treat the lower face and neck, the procedure is not designed to improve aging in the upper facial planes. Fortunately, other facial plastic surgery options can be performed instead of—or in conjunction with—a facelift to further refresh the region around the eyes and brow. Additional cosmetic concerns that cannot be corrected with a facelift include:
Dr. Leber can tailor your treatment plan to address all of your aesthetic concerns and provide all-encompassing facial rejuvenation. Multiple procedures can often be completed during the same surgery depending on each patient’s individual needs and preferences.
The face and neck often age together, so it’s very common to combine a neck lift with facelift surgery. However, not all patients who undergo a facelift necessarily require a neck lift to gain a sleeker, smoother facial profile. If you have questions about whether you could benefit from a neck lift, Dr. Leber can evaluate your concerns and provide a recommendation during your consultation.
Everyone heals at a different rate, but it generally takes 10 to 14 days before incisions are healed enough to begin applying makeup. However, Dr. Leber will provide you with guidance as he monitors your recovery in follow-up appointments.
In general, patients who undergo facial plastic surgery should sleep on their backs with their heads slightly elevated above chest level. This elevation can be achieved by propping pillows behind the head, or sleeping in a recliner. Dr. Leber will give you detailed aftercare instructions to help ensure your recovery proceeds as smoothly as possible.
Although natural remedies will not stop facial aging completely or replicate the results of a facelift, certain measures can slow down the rate at which signs of aging begin to appear. We recommend wearing sun protection every day, including high-SPF sunscreens, hats, sunglasses, etc. Artificial tanning and unprotected sun exposure can greatly damage the skin, often resulting in a poor skin tone and texture. Smoking is also a major factor that prematurely ages your skin and harms your skin health, so we strongly advise refraining from tobacco use.
It’s important to weigh the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery before making a decision to undergo the facelift procedure. The risks associated with a facelift are similar to the complications possible after any surgery, including the chance of infection, poor wound healing, or loss of sensation, among other adverse events. While the risk of complications exists, they are exceedingly rare — especially if you’re under the care of a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon.
To learn more about how facelift surgery can help you minimize key signs of aging, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leber, please contact our Boston or Scottsdale practices today.