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Surgical facelift - face lifts

A surgical facelift can refresh and revitalise the face and neck. It can improve contours and remove heavy, tired features to make you look and even feel younger again. Our consultant surgeons believe that face lifts should aim to rejuvenate, giving you a natural, younger look.

There are several different options to be looked at when considering a surgical facelift, and these all need to be explored in detail with your consultant to ensure you achieve the best for you.

Full face lifts involve a long incision being made around the face. From there the skin can be lifted slightly and tightened, while the surgeon can manipulate or remove muscles and tissue underneath to achieve the desired effect. Scarring will always occur, but will be hidden as much as possible, and will fade significantly over time.

Surgical Facelift and Face Lift from BMI Healthcare

The full and mini face lifts procedure will take place under general anaesthetic and you should expect to stay in hospital between one and two nights.

A full face lift is an intricate procedure on quite a large, sensitive area and you should expect recovery to take a while. You should plan sufficient time away from work and avoid strenuous activity for at least eight weeks.

Swelling, bruising and tenderness will occur during the first few days, but should subside swiftly and pain can be eased with prescribed painkillers.

A surgical facelift is an operation to tighten and lift the soft tissues of your face and neck, which can sag as you get older. Your surgeon will advise if this surgery is appropriate for you.

The benefits to a surgical facelift

If you have deeper folds in the skin on the sides of your nose and mouth, if your cheeks have begun to sag or if you have a double chin or folds in the skin of your neck, you are most likely to benefit from this operation. The operation won't stop them from ageing, but a successful facelift should mean your face and neck will appear younger than if you had not had surgery.

For the surgical facelift operation to be successful, you need to have a good bone structure and your skin should still be elastic.

Always tell your surgeon if you are planning to lose a lot of weight – it may be better to lose the weight before surgery.


A facelift is the most effective way to reduce sagging in your face and neck, but it won't help to reduce fine wrinkles around your mouth, eyes and forehead as this is caused by poor muscle tone.

  • Protein injections may help smooth out fine wrinkles
  • Deeper wrinkles can sometimes be filled out using implants
  • Droopy eyelids or eyebrows can be treated using other surgical techniques and you may want to consider these first or at the same time as a facelift.

Your surgeon will advise if these procedures are suitable for you.

The operation

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about two to three hours. There are two types:

SMAS facelift

This is the most common type of surgical facelift and aims to raise and tighten the loose skin and tissue in the neck, chin, jaw-line and lower cheeks.

Your surgeon will need to make a cut on both sides of your face. Each cut starts in the hairline above and to the front of your ear, along the natural creases of your skin in front of your ear, around your ear lobe and along the hairline behind your ear. They will then separate the skin from the SMAS layer in the area of your cheeks and neck. Your surgeon will then cut under the SMAS layer, lifting it upwards and tightening it. Tightening the SMAS layer can give a better facelift that lasts longer. Your surgeon will then tighten the skin upwards towards your ears and remove any excess skin. Your surgeon may make a small cut under your chin to remove any excess fat and tighten the muscles.


Your surgeon will make small cuts along your hairline and either inside your mouth or in your lower eyelid. They may insert an endoscope (small telescope) to examine the facial structures over your cheekbones. Your surgeon will use the endoscope, special surgical instruments and stitches to lift the cheeks. Your surgeon may place drains (small tubes) in the cuts to help drain blood or fluid. They will usually close the cuts with stitches or staples, leaving the drains in place.

Finally, your face may be wrapped in supporting bandages.

For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant.

Continue your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

These lifestyle changes can help make the operation a success:

  • Giving up smoking
  • Eating healthily. If overweight, you have a greater chance of developing complications
  • Exercising regularly. Your GP can recommend exercises.

Possible complications

  • Some pain is common with most operations, but you will be prescribed painkillers for a few days following your operation
  • Swelling, bruising and tenderness, which occurs during the first few days, should fade over the next couple of weeks
  • Minor infection on the surface of the wounds, which is rare and can be treated with antibiotics
  • Unsightly scarring of the skin, but this should fade over time
  • Loss of skin near the scars
  • Pale areas may develop on your face from where the skin was separated from the tissue underneath
  • Some people get a lot of small broken veins in the cheek area, which causes red thread-like marks
  • Damage to the facial nerve, which can cause a loss of control over parts of your face. This is uncommon.

This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your consultant for more information.


Your face will look bruised and feel very swollen. It may take up to two weeks for this swelling to settle. You should be able to go home the same day or the day after. However, your doctor may recommend that you stay a little longer. Remember, you won't be able to drive after this operation.

The bandages can be removed within the first week and your surgeon will then usually remove the stitches or staples. You should be able to return to work after the second week. For the first three weeks after the operation, do not lift anything heavy or do strenuous housework. Most people resume normal activities within two to three weeks.

Be gentle with your face for at least another month after the operation and keep your face out of the sun.

Your surgeon will arrange for you to have follow-up visits to check on your progress. It usually takes a few weeks for your face to look and feel more natural. The results of a facelift last for a long time.

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