A facelift (or face lift) is a procedure called rhytidectomy. It involves tightening of the facial skin to remove wrinkles and lines on an aging face. This is an optional cosmetic procedure. Alternatives to a complete facelift are smaller cosmetic procedures like liposuction, chin or brow lift. Chemical peels, laser therapy, Botox injections, dermal fillers etc. are other less invasive alternatives to a facelift for removal of wrinkles.

Pre-Surgery counseling requirements

Before the surgery one needs to undergo counseling. The cosmetic surgeon may take pictures of the patient’s face before correction and take her/him through the extent of correction and even show simulated computer generated images of the possible results after surgery. For opting this surgery one needs to be in good medical and mental health before undergoing a face lift. The surgeon will screen for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease etc. before surgery. Usually the condition of the facial skin also needs to be improved before the surgery is undertaken. Chemical peels, laser therapy for skin resurfacing etc. are usually opted as supplements to a facelift operation.

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Surgery Procedure

A facelift surgery is usually done in day care. Patient is advised to have a light meal on the night before surgery and wear a front open or button down dress for the surgery. Tight clothes that need to be pulled over the face should not be worn. A face lift surgery is usually done under local anesthesia where the operative area is numbed. The patient may be sedated and made comfortable during the operation.

Usually the condition of the facial skin also needs to be improved before the surgery is undertaken.

The outline of the incision is delineated in upright position. The skin over the face and neck is first cleaned with an antiseptic lotion and then sterile surgical drapes are placed over it. Usually fine incisions are made in front of the earlobe along the hairline extending below and to the back of the head. Once the incision is made the underlying muscles and tissues are separated from the skin. The manipulations of shortening the excess and loose skin are done thereafter. The shape of the face may also be altered by removal of underlying fat. Depending on the extent of correction the surgery can take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Small drains are placed in the suture lines once the tightening of the skin of face and neck is done to drain the excess fluid and blood. The incision is then sutured and bandaged.

Recuperation and post operative complications

Patient may be discharged on the day of the operation but someone will need to drive them home. She/he will be prescribed pain relieving medications and antibiotics. The bandages and sutures will be removed in a few days. In case of a fever, increase in pain or swelling in the post operative period contact your surgeon without delay. Depending on the extent of surgery patient may recover completely in two or three weeks. Like all surgeries a facelift is also associated with risks of infections, bleeding, and pain and nerve damage. There may also be a risk of scarring from the operation. The results of a facelift depend on the extent of age related wrinkling, skin laxity and skin condition. Some facial feature like small chin, low eyebrows and overly active forehead along with excessive sun exposure can lead to earlier aging and difficult correction. Unrealistic expectations of the cosmetic procedure can do more harm than good.

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