Are You a Good Candidate for a Facelift?

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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A facelift is surgery to improve signs of aging on your face and neck. A facelift minimizes facial wrinkles and sagging caused by aging and creates a more youthful appearance. Most people seek a facelift because they want to look younger. Doctors sometimes recommend a facelift as part of a medically necessary facial reconstruction. 


Are There Other Treatment Options?

Injectable fillers, Botox® injections, and other cosmetic treatments can help smooth fine lines and wrinkles so that you look younger. And new techniques using ultrasound technology can help tighten, tone and lift skin on certain areas of the face. These nonsurgical techniques usually don’t achieve the same results as a facelift and they require repeated treatments to maintain their results. 

Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on surgery.

When to Consider a Facelift

You may want to consider a facelift if you are bothered by the signs of aging on your face and neck. Signs of aging that may be corrected by a facelift include:

  • Sagging skin on the face

  • Deep creases below the lower eyelids and running along the bottom of your nose to your mouth

  • Jowls

  • Loose skin under the chin and jaw

Your doctor may decide that you are a good candidate for a facelift if:

  • Your general health is good.

  • You don’t smoke.

  • You have realistic expectations for improvement and not perfection.

  • Nonsurgical options haven’t given you the results you want.

Who Is NOT a Good Candidate for a Facelift?

You may not be a good candidate if:

  • You have overly thick facial skin or severely sun-damaged skin.

  • You have a medical condition—such as uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure—that may impair wound healing.

  • You have an immune disorder, such as lupus, affecting your face.

  • You take medicine to suppress your immune system, such as for an autoimmune disorder or organ transplant. Immunosuppressants may also suppress wound healing.

  • You smoke.

  • You have unrealistic expectations about what a facelift can do for you.

Your Facelift Consultation

Your surgeon can tailor your procedure to your specific goals. But individualized care starts with a conversation. It’s vital to share your expectations with your surgeon so they understand what you want. It also gives your surgeon the opportunity to guide you to realistic outcomes.

Before your consultation, write a list of questions you have for the surgeon. You may also want to write out your goals for your facelift. This will help you remember everything you want to ask and communicate effectively with your doctor.

Your doctor will examine your face, take pictures and measurements, and recommend a course of treatment. Ask your doctor why they think it’s the best option for you. Some surgeons offer preoperative video imaging of what your face will look like after a facelift.

What to Expect

Your surgeon will perform your facelift in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. A facelift can be performed by either a large incision (open surgery) starting at your temple and running down along your ears and around your scalp or by making several small cuts at different points on your face and neck (limited incision facelift).

Your surgeon will use sedation and a nerve block to numb the area, or general anesthesia to put you asleep. Most patients go home the same day of surgery.

You can expect to have some temporary pain, swelling and bruising after surgery. Plan to rest and apply cold compresses for several days after surgery. Arrange for someone to care for you for a few days and to help around the house.

You should be able to return to normal activities 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. It may take several months before swelling completely subsides and you can see the final results.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 25
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

  1. Facelift. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/facelift.html#content

  2. Papel, ID. Aesthetic Facial Surgery. In: Frodel JL, Holt GR, Larrabee WF et al, eds. Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc. 2009:208-2010.

  3. Ultherapy. Ulthera, Inc. http://www.ultherapy.com/about-ultrasound-skin-tightening