WHAT IS A FACE LIFT?
A face lift is a surgical procedure that can restore a youthful appearance to the neck, lower, and mid-face. The underlying supporting tissues of the neck, jawline, and lower cheek are lifted and loose or excess skin tissue is removed through an incision around the ear. The procedure can be performed alone or may be combined with methods to improve other areas of the face such as the brow, eyelids, or skin. Chin implants, which correct a weak chin and create a sharper jawline, may be recommended to help improve the proportions of the lower third of the face.
HOW IS A FACE LIFT PERFORMED?
There are several approaches to the face lift which is designed to rejuvenate the lower face and neck. The techniques are divided into anterior (incision in front of the ear), posterior (incision behind the ear), and anterior-posterior (incision around the front and back of the ear). The anterior-only approach is designed to lift the cheek and jawline more so than the neck, the posterior-only approach tightens the neck more so than the face, and the anterior-posterior approach lifts both the face and neck. The anterior approach is for younger patients, whereas the posterior and anterior-posterior approaches appeal to an older patient population that requires rejuvenation of the neck.
During a face lift, the surgeon makes an incision along the crease in front of and behind the ear, peels back the skin, and tightens the underlying supporting tissue of the face and neck with “deep” sutures. The “deep” sutures lift the age-induced, droopy supportive tissue of the face and neck to restore a youthful, facial shape and overall younger appearance. The excess skin is then removed and the skin incision around the ear is closed with the “superficial” sutures. The procedure, depending on the technique, takes about two to fours hours and can be performed with local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
WHAT ARE THE POST-OPERATIVE EFFECTS?
The post-operative effects are minimal and temporary. Stitches are usually removed after five to seven days. Minor swelling, bruising and discomfort should disappear within one to two weeks. Cold compresses will help alleviate these side effects.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS?
A "too tight" or “wind-swept” appearance is unusual with newer techniques. Rarely, bleeding, difficulty with incision healing, or infection can result after surgery. When addressed early, these complications have no long term impact. The rare complication of nerve injury is minimized by the use of local anesthesia and the newer, less invasive techniques.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REFERRALS
For more information on skin conditions and treatments, along with a list of ASDS members in your state, please visit the Find a dermatolgic surgeon section of our Web site.