Aging alters the body in many ways, but nowhere are these harsh realities as visible as on the face. Coupled with the sun’s damaging rays, the aging process coarsens the texture of the skin, diminishes its youthful layer of fatty tissue, and causes the angularity of the face to be lost. As the skin makes its downward descent off the cheeks, jaw, and neck, it pouches into unsightly bags and overhanging jowls. These outward signs often generate comments of tiredness and questions of sadness that really belie an inner vitality. The great value of a face lift is that it can help counter this generalized facial sagging and give the face a more rested and youthful appearance.
About the Procedure
A face lift surgery removes excess skin and fat from the face and neck area through incisions that start in the hairline, run down in front of the ear, up behind the ear, and back into the hairline. It repositions and supports the underlying structures and drooping skin. The preoperative analysis evaluates the quality of the skin, looseness at the jaw line, the angle from the chin to the bottom of the neck, and the amount of fat and excess skin present in the neck area. The results are very dependent on the elasticity of the skin. If the skin has had extensive damage, additional procedures may be required. The face lift can best correct skin laxity in the face and neck as well as contour problems caused by protruding fat.
After the initial face lift, secondary procedure may be performed if skin laxity reappears. This secondary procedure is sometimes referred to as a mini-lift, touch-up, or tuck-up.
In every face, regardless of the person’s age, some slack can be found. Following surgery, the aging process continues and the skin loses more of its elastic properties. Gravity causes the loose skin to accumulate along the jaws, along the sides of the mouth and in the center of the neck under the chin. The mini-lift usually requires less surgery than the initial procedure. The incisions and scars are in about the same places as with a face lift, but the recovery period is usually shorter.
It is impossible to predict when – and to what extent – this may happen. Genetics, age differences, ethnic backgrounds, stress, illness, and nutrition all play a role in how soon mini-lift procedures may be considered.
Recovery & Healing
You will most likely have only local anesthesia, which is painless local injection of an anesthetic mixed with epinephrine to numb your face and limit the potential for bleeding. You can carry a normal conservation during the procedure without feeling any discomfort. You will be able to go home that night.
You should be able to go out in public with the help of makeup within a few days, but this will vary. It’s important to limit your activities for several days, and not drive until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. It will probably be two weeks before you can return to work.
As with any surgical procedure, the general risks include bleeding, infection, and anesthesia complications. Though rare, you may develop a pocket of blood and fluid, called a hematoma. This would probably need to be removed by releasing a few sutures and removing the collection. You should expect to have little discomfort, but any that occurs can be controlled with pain medication. Intense pain is a sign that you should call your doctor.
There will probably be decreased sensation of the face for a month or so with a gradual return to normal. You can expect to feel, but not usually see, a few little bumps that will even out over time. There will be permanent scars from the procedure that at first will be red, but should fade and be inconspicuous.