What is a facelift?
A facelift is an operation to tighten and lift the soft tissues of your face and neck.
Is a facelift suitable for me?
As you get older, gravity pulls down on your skin and soft tissues of your face, causing them to sag. A facelift will reduce the signs of ageing in your face and neck. You are most likely to benefit from a facelift if you have one or more of the following signs of ageing:
- You have deeper folds in your skin on the sides of your nose and mouth.
- Your cheeks have begun to sag.
- You have developed a double chin or folds in the skin of your neck. Your surgeon will carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if surgery is suitable for you.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your face should look younger. Most people who have a successful facelift are more comfortable with their appearance.
Are there any alternatives to a facelift?
Your surgeon may be able to assess you for resurfacing or injecting Botox to smooth out fine wrinkles. Deeper wrinkles can sometimes be filled out using fillers, fat injections or implants. Fat grafting involves injecting fat from other areas of your body into your face to make your face look fuller.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes 2 to 3 hours.
Your surgeon will need to make a cut on both sides of your face. They will separate your skin from the SMAS layer in the area of your cheeks and neck. Your surgeon will cut under the SMAS layer, lifting it upwards and tightening it. Your surgeon will tighten your skin upwards towards your ears and remove any excess skin.
This is a variation of the SMAS facelift, where your surgeon tightens the SMAS layer with suspension stitches to avoid cutting underneath it. This involves less surgery but the results may not last as long.
Other types of facelift
These include the mid-facelift and composite facelift and involve lifting deeper layers of the face.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Minor infection
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
- Loss of skin near the scars
- Hair loss
- Developing a collection of blood under your skin
- Developing pale areas on your face
- Darkening in the colour of your face
- Damage to the facial nerve
- Cosmetic problems
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day or the day after, and will be able to return to normal activities after 2 to 3 weeks.
It’s very important that you do not have sex or bend down for 2 weeks. However, regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
The results of a facelift last for a long time. Your face will continue to age but should always appear younger than if you had not had surgery.
A facelift is an operation to make your face appear younger. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.
Author: Mr Eoin O'Broin MD FRCS (Plast.)
Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Eoin O' Broin