Frequently Asked Questions: Facelift
We know you’re curious.
Here are the answers to questions we get all the time.
How long is the recovery time?
Most patients do best if they can take 1-2 weeks off of work and other activities to recover after a facelift procedure. Generally 2-3 weeks of social downtime is certainly more than enough. The reason is that during that first week or two there is some initial bruising and swelling which simply takes time to improve. Also, you will have several follow up appointments during the first week to remove sutures and closely monitor your progress as you heal.
Your recovery may be a bit longer if you are also including procedures like a browlift or eyelid surgery at the same time to complement the results of a facelift.
Don’t be fooled by promises of no downtime “mini-facelift” procedures that can be performed on your lunch break. Any version of a facelift that can actually deliver long-lasting improvement comes with some downtime, but the results are worth it.
How long does a facelift last?
A facelift lasts forever. This is one of the most common questions we hear, but the simple truth is this: You will always look younger than if you never had a facelift, but the aging process will continue.
The goal of a facelift is to not only make you look years younger but to also slow down the aging process so that the inevitable aging returns more slowly and allows you to continue to age gracefully.
Click to read more on our blog article about this topic here.
How is a facelift different than a mini-facelift or midface lift?
Dr. Rodwell prefers to perform a more thorough procedure to fully address the cheeks, jowl area, and the neck at the same time. His technique is customized based on the anatomy of each patient. This is different than procedures that are often referred to as a mini-lift. Those mini-lift procedures are targeted at improving the cheeks and jowls, but their results are too often very limited in treating all areas that are starting to show looseness and sagging. Mini-lift results may look good initially, but their results do not always hold up well over time, especially in the neck.
Midface lift procedures only address the area of the upper cheek to help provide some lift and fullness over the cheekbones. Midface lifts alone are not able to correct the jowls or sagging in the neck.
A deep plane facelift or extended SMAS facelift like that performed by Dr. Rodwell will address all areas at the same time and provide a more natural well-supported result to lift and support each area that needs it.
This technique also has many advantages when Dr. Rodwell performs revision facelifts to correct areas that were not fully improved by a previous procedure.
How long should swelling and numbness last after a facelift?
The majority of swelling quickly improves within the first 2 weeks. There is still some mild residual swelling that more slowly resolves after that. Some numbness of the skin in front of and under the earlobe is a normal part of a facelift, and most patients see that this gets back to feeling normal within several weeks to months.
How can I avoid getting a pulled look from a facelift?
Having a surgeon with an eye for what looks appropriate and the good judgment to know the limitations of a facelift are the two most important factors in preventing a tight and over-pulled look.
Supporting the skin and deeper muscle layers together as a unit like Dr. Rodwell does helps to prevent excess tension, and it is also important to lift and support in the proper direction to avoid the classic “pulled” look of a poorly done facelift. Your results should not look like they are from an operation.
Older patients sometimes have more noticeable changes because the sagging and laxity is much worse to begin with compared to younger patients. In these situations, when more work is needed there will be a more dramatic change. The key is to make those changes without the classic signs of a stretched and overly tightened obvious result.
Younger patients choosing to undergo a lift will not only look rested and younger but will also slow down the aging process since a facelift supports the cheek, jowl, and neck area for many years to come.
The deep plane facelift technique is also very useful for revising poor results from a previous facelift operation and can provide a more natural result for patients who may be showing some of the signs of having work done before.
How to avoid bruising after a facelift?
Some bruising is to be expected, but there are things that can be done to minimize bruising and help it resolve faster. A large part of this is dependent on careful and meticulous technique. Dr. Rodwell also uses a medication called Artiss, which is applied under the skin at the time of your facelift and helps to reduce bruising. Because of this there is no need to place drains under the skin. Of course you also need to avoid any medications that would increase your risk of bleeding.
After surgery, the biggest thing under your control is to avoid any straining and maintain a light and relaxed activity level. Vitamin C can be helpful for wound healing, and a pineapple extract called bromelain is also known to be helpful for bruising. The supplement, Arnica montana, gets a lot of press for its reported ability to reduce bruising and swelling. Unfortunately, most preparations available are sold as homeopathic remedies, and there is no good scientific evidence strongly supporting the use of Arnica. Anecdotally, some patients feel as though they benefit, and there are no significant side effects associated with trying it.
What are potential facelift side effects?
Face and neck lift procedures are generally very safe and rarely have major complications. Like any other procedure poor healing, poor scarring, infection, bleeding, hematoma, and temporary or permanent injury to nerves are some of the risks you will need to review with your surgeon. An additional “risk” is that of having an end result that you are not fully satisfied with, which is why you need a surgeon who will take the time to listen to your concerns and let you know what to reasonably expect with this type of procedure. For patients unhappy with results from a previous operation elsewhere, Dr. Rodwell offers revision facelift techniques that can greatly improve unsatisfactory results.
Will I have visible scars from a facelift?
Scars are an unavoidable part of a facelift, but the goal is to have the scars be as inconspicuous as possible once the incisions are fully healed. This is done by hiding the final scar as a very thin line that follows the natural creases and contours around the ears and by hiding portions of it within the hairline.
Dr. Rodwell also takes several steps to minimize tension on the incisions, which provides a more natural look and avoids wide and unsightly scars.
Is there a non-surgical alternative for facelift?
There is absolutely nothing non-surgical that can come anywhere close to the results of a facelift
Remember, a facelift is a procedure that targets the looseness and sagging of skin and the deeper muscle layers in the cheek and neck. Some of the non-surgical procedures available today can make some mild improvement for these problems, but none of them have the ability to come close to correcting the problem by lifting and supporting the way that a facelift can.
What other procedures can I combine with a facelift for a younger look?
A facelift treats the looseness and sagging, but the best results occur when you also balance that with addressing some of the other signs of aging at the same time. One way to avoid looking “done” is to balance the results of a natural appearing face and neck lift with improving other areas at the same time such as a drooping brow or heavy and puffy eyelids.
Non-surgical options could be with fillers for volume loss, Botox for deeper wrinkles, and things like laser treatments or chemical peels to improve the skin. If you take some time with your surgeon to understand the issues that you are seeing in the mirror, you will be better equipped to choose the best options for treating each problem area.
What is the best age for a facelift?
Ask yourself 2 questions. When you look in the mirror do you see the signs of aging that are best treated by a facelift (sagging cheeks, jowls, loose neck skin and muscle bands)? Does what you see bother you?
When you answer yes to both of those questions then it is time to learn more about your options and how a facelift might be helpful in your specific case. For most people this begins to happen around age 50.
Dr. David Rodwell specializes in facial cosmetic surgery including facelifts and eyelid surgery. To learn more about your options and what to expect after these procedures call our office at (843) 628-1415 to schedule a private consultation.