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What is a facelift?

A facelift is a procedure designed to restore the youthfulness of the face that has suffered the effects of aging and gravity. It typically addresses the area beneath the lower eyelids down to the jawline. By removing excess skin and tightening the underlying muscle layers, a facelift can take years off an aging face. That’s it!

The real difficulty comes from how to achieve these results. This can vary extensively from surgeon to surgeon and with experience. It is important to discuss the goals of a facelift procedure ahead of time and understand the limitations and expectations. Often a facelift is combined with other procedures including a browlift, necklift, eyelid surgery, chin implantation or laser resurfacing. The surgical plan is highly individualized to each patient and to his or her goals.

How is a facelift performed?

There are several variations to a facelift. These can include regular facelift, short-scar technique, and mini facelift. The goal of each of these options is similar in the pursuit of a more youthful appearing face. However, the degree to which each of these options can remedy the specific degree of facial aging can be quite substantial. Generally, the more severe the signs of aging, the longer the scar will be and the closer it will approximate a traditional facelift. A well-done facelift can take 10 or more years off of an aging face. Your consultation with Dr. Panossian will highlight the differences between the various styles of facelift procedure and assess your candidacy for each.

What is the recovery?

Following a facelift procedure, the head will be wrapped loosely with bulky bandages to minimize bruising and swelling. Patients are given prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medication routinely. A small thin tube may sometimes be used along the incision behind the ear to drain excess fluid that might accumulate under the skin. This tube is typically removed the following day after surgery and the dressings changed. Recovery may sometimes take longer when combined with additional procedures such as those mentioned above. There is an option for overnight monitoring in a post-surgical facility for those undergoing more extensive procedures simultaneously. 

Swelling typically improves over 1 to 2 weeks. Bruising is not always present, but it will also improve during the same time period. Activity is restricted during the first 4 to 6 weeks to light walking and stationary activities. Heavy lifting, contact sports, aerobic exercises, and sex are to be avoided during this time. Most patients elect to take 7-14 days off from work. During this time, make up can be used to mask any bruising.

What are the risks and complications?

Facelift complications are relatively rare when performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon. However, individuals may vary substantially in terms of health status and genetic predisposition, potentially making them more susceptible to unfavorable results.

These complications can include hematoma (blood collection under the skin), injury to the facial nerve, infection, and adverse reaction to anesthesia. Smokers and individuals with uncontrolled diabetes sometimes demonstrate issues with poor wound healing.

To minimize your risk, pay close attention to Dr. Panossian’s instructions before and after surgery. Dr. Panossian’s staff is available at all times to clarify any pre- or postoperative instructions that you may have been given. Please refer to the Pre- and Postoperative General Instructions for further details.