What is a facelift?
A facelift is the surgical correction and improvement of the signs of aging on the face and neck. Your face and neck are often the first places where signs of aging are evident. Most people seek a facelift for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons. Your doctor may also recommend this procedure as part of a medically necessary facial reconstruction.
A facelift is a common but major surgery with significant risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive cosmetic or treatment options available depending on your specific circumstances. You should consider getting a second opinion about all of your cosmetic or treatment choices before having a facelift.
Types of facelift
There are a wide variety of facelift techniques. The basic types of facelift procedures include:
- Limited incision facelift involves smaller cuts than a traditional facelift. The incisions may be located at your temple, around your ear, within the lower eyelids, and under your upper lip.
- Neck lift incisions usually start in front of your ear lobe and continue behind your ear to end in your lower scalp. Neck lifts correct signs of aging in your lower face, chin and neck.
- Traditional facelift incisions start at your temple, run down in front and around your ear, and end in your lower scalp. This is usually one continuous cut. Your surgeon can redistribute fat, reposition deep tissues, lift muscles, and trim excess skin. He or she may also make an additional incision under your chin.
Other procedures that may be performed
In addition to a facelift, your doctor may also perform one or more other procedures. These include:
- Brow lift, also called a forehead lift, to tighten sagging skin in the forehead area
- Eyelid surgery to improve the look of your upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both
- Facial implants to augment areas of your face such as your chin, cheekbones or jaw
- Facial liposuction to remove fatty deposits in the face
- Resurfacing to improve the texture and tone of your skin
- Rhinoplasty to repair or reshape your nose
- Soft tissue augmentation to recontour your facial structure
- Wrinkle reduction with injections to smooth fine wrinkles
Why is a facelift performed?
Your doctor may recommend a facelift if you want to improve the look of your face for cosmetic reasons. Your doctor may also recommend it as part of a medically necessary facial reconstruction. Your doctor may only consider a faceliftfor medical reasons if other options with less risk of complications are not appropriate for you or have not produced desirable results. Talk with your doctor about all of your options and consider getting a second opinion.
Your doctor may recommend a cosmetic or aesthetic facelift for you if:
- You are dissatisfied with or bothered by the signs of aging that are seen in your face
- You are physically healthy and have realistic expectations of improvement, not perfection
- You do not smoke
Your doctor may recommend a medically necessary facelift for you if you have:
- Facial asymmetry or skin laxity due to nerve paralysis or a known skin condition
- Genetic facial deformity
- Traumatic injury
How is a facelift performed?
A plastic surgeon will lead the surgical team and perform your facelift in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. A plastic surgeon is a specialist in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
Surgical approaches to a facelift
A facelift may be performed using one of the following approaches:
- Minimally invasive facelifts are known by a variety of names. There are also a variety of techniques for minimally invasive facelifts. They range from the limited incision facelift that is similar to a traditional facelift, to nonsurgical techniques, or “thread” facelifts. Thread lifts involve the placement of fine surgical thread in the layer of fat and tissue under your skin, which are then pulled taut to give the appearance of tighter skin. Minimally invasive surgery generally involves a faster recovery, less pain, and less risk of complications than open surgery. This is because it causes less damage to your tissues. Your surgeon makes small incisions instead of a larger one used in open surgery. Minimally invasive facelifts offer a more subtle change in your appearance.
- Open surgery facelifts are performed by making a large incision that starts at your temple, runs down in front of your ear, continues around the back of your ear, and ends at your lower scalp. An open surgery incision allows your surgeon to directly view and access the surgical area. Open surgery requires a larger incision and involves more cutting and displacement of muscle and other tissues. Open surgery generally involves a longer recovery and more pain than minimally invasive surgery because it causes more damage to tissues. Despite the potential for damage, open surgery may be a safer or more effective method for certain patients.
© Copyright 2012 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.