Ask the Doctor: What You Should Know About Facelift Surgery

Patients contemplating getting a facelift at my Champaign-Urbana plastic surgery center share a lot of common questions:

  • How quickly will I recover?
  • Will I be able to go back to work and do routine activities within a week?
  • How long will my results last?
  • Do I have any other alternatives?
  • Will everyone know that I’ve had a facelift?

So why is it that when people recall their experience about facelift surgery, the experiences are so vastly different from one person to another one? Well, the answer has to do with the idea that today facelifts are really customized to the individual’s needs. The term “facelift” encompasses many types of procedures and variations of each type that are all banded together under the same all-encompassing heading.

The facelift heading encompasses:

  • Mini-facelift, which is a limited facelift generally indicated in someone with early signs of aging (late 30s to late 50s) and which is most effective in people with facial aging rather than neck aging.
  • Mid-facelift, which elevates the middle portion of the face. This type of facelift is needed in patients who have either facial sagging or lack facial volume in the second third of the face.
  • Traditional facelift is the treatment of choice for those who have both the sagging of the cheek and the neck area.

Now let’s address those common patient questions.

Recovery & Return to Routine Activities

Recovery symptoms can be as diverse as the facelifts themselves. Some people experience a very rapid recovery with no pain, while others may have some swelling that lasts somewhat longer and a little bit more discomfort. As a rule, the recovery from a facelift procedure entails very little pain, a very moderate amount of swelling, variable black and blue bruising that can range from nonexistent to lasting 12 days. Because the incisions are created in anatomical regions that naturally camouflage them, the scars of a quality facelift should be difficult for even your closest friends to detect.

Most patients return to work anywhere from 4 days with a mini-face lift to 9 days with a full facelift. Light activities can be carried out from the onset, and in most instances all bandages are removed within 24 hours. We offer our patients a complimentary camouflage appointment with our laser and skincare specialist to learn how to cover any residual symptoms, enabling them to return to work and social activities with confidence.

How long do I have, doc?

Many patients want to know how many years they can expect a facelift to last. This is a difficult question to answer with precision because of the idea that we continue to age as time goes on and some newer signs of aging will set in. How long a facelift lasts has to do with the type of facelift performed, as well as the patient’s lifestyle choices both before and after facial surgery. If the patient is not a sun seeker, does not smoke, maintains a consistent and healthy diet and weight, and exercises regularly, the results will last longer than one who does not. Facelifts deliver very long-lasting results, as most patients will still look more youthful 10 years after a facelift than they did before. However, some patients are used to looking very youthful, and after 6 to 10 years, they decide to tidy up things in some way, whether it be eyelid surgery, laser resurfacing, or a tuck-up lift.

Facelift alternatives

The use of injectables such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and dermal fillers are available to help reverse some early signs of aging. They are often referred to as “non-surgical facelifts” or “liquid facelifts.” These newer terms in plastic surgery can be somewhat misleading to the consumer, as these are not really facelifts at all. Injectables are a popular choice because they come with relatively lower risks and rapid recovery time.

However, the results of a surgical facelift are just not possible with a non-surgical treatment. During surgery, we elevate the deep structures including muscle and the cover of muscle to reposition underlying tissue in an effort to restore it to its original, youthful position, therefore creating the desired facial contours of youth. Some patients need fat replacement or fat transplantation, while others need fat removal. We then excise a significant portion of relaxed or sagging skin from the face and neck areas. Nothing will compare to the results of a surgical removal of tissue, which is the hallmark of any kind of surgical facelift.

Will everyone know?

I believe in natural restoration of the aging face. We want our patients’ friends and family to envy them, not talk about them. While people will notice that you look good, youthful, and refreshed after facelift surgery, the results should not scream “surgery.”

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Information provided on this site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Cosmetic Surgery Chronicle and affiliate doctors strive to provide accurate information about real issues, but the information and opinions provided on this site are only meant to help clarify your larger research efforts.

Doctors' posts and comments are not meant to constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Any type of surgical procedure carries risks, so readers should always consult with their own physician to help them understand their risks, choose a surgeon, and prepare themselves for the results of their procedure.