For many people who are fed up with the effects of time and aging, a facelift can be the perfect solution for regaining a more youthful, rejuvenated appearance. Think about your skin and underlying facial tissues as if they were a rubber band. Over time, these tissues can become weakened by the day-to-day activities and movements of your face. In the same way that rubber can lose its elasticity, so too can your skin.
Facelifts are used to remove and tighten excess skin, while repositioning fat deposits and muscles which have fallen or become warped over time. The advantages of a facelift generally outweigh the risks in healthy individuals.
Facelifts can fall into one of several categories: Full, lower, and mini lifts. Each type of lift targets specific areas of the face, in order to reduce or remove the visible signs of aging of the skin and underlying tissues. Full facelifts are the most complex because they are actually made up of a combination of separate procedures that work together to rejuvenate the overall appearance of the face. Because everyone ages differently, the procedures that might be used for one individual could be completely inappropriate for another. The surgeries generally included in a full facelift target the lower face, mid-face, and neck.
Lower facelifts target only the lower portion of the face and are used to sculpt the skin and tissue around the mouth, jaw, and neck. Lower facelifts help to remove the signs of weariness and falsely expressed emotions which can become permanent on aging skin.
Facelift procedures can be used to remove deep-set wrinkles, sagging jowls, and fatty deposits or banding in the face and neck. This is accomplished by removing or repositioning fat to areas which will fill in wrinkled or sagging skin, as well as tightening and reducing excess skin around the lower jaw.
Because emotions are commonly shown on the area of the mouth, these areas may also be some of the first to show visible signs of aging. By improving the look and feel of the skin in this area, you may also find that your overall resting expression improves, in addition to looking younger.
Mini facelifts generally involve a single incision site along the ear. This tiny S-shaped incision is designed to be virtually invisible once healed. Also known as the “weekend facelift” this procedure is popular among women aged 40-50 who have only just begun to show signs of aging. Skin that has severe deep wrinkles and signs of aging would not generally benefit much from a mini facelift.
A vibrant and youthful appearance can have many positive benefits in your day to day life, but the best reason for undergoing any cosmetic procedure is to improve your self-confidence. If looking younger and more attractive will make you more confident and feel like a better version of yourself, there is simply no reason to not consider the procedure.
Because the facelift is such a custom procedure, the consultation is an extremely important part of the planning phase. You will meet with Dr. Alvarez in his Miami plastic surgery office and discuss your goals for the procedure, going over all the options available to you, and getting advice and recommendations about which procedure is right for you.
Dr. Alvarez will also need to assess your candidacy and make sure you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. You should also use this opportunity to learn, ask questions, and get to know Dr. Alvarez.
General good health, a positive self-image and attitude, realistic expectations, and the time to devote to the healing process are typically all that are required to have a successful facelift experience. However, some prospective patients may be tempted to have a more invasive procedure than necessary.
The following characteristics are common among facelift candidates:
- Fat deposits in the face which have shifted or fallen to create hollows or winkles.
- Sagging skin along the jawline or fatty jowls
- Creases or folds extending from the corners of the mouth to the nose
- Marionette lines which extend from the corners of the mouth down to the chin
- A double chin resulting from fallen fat deposits or excess skin.
- Creases or banding along the neck
- Any loss of muscle tone in the lower face leading to an aged appearance
In order to make you as comfortable as possible, most cosmetic surgeries utilize one of two anesthesia types, depending on how detailed the procedure will be. General anesthesia is almost always used for full facelifts as more than one procedure is necessary to achieve desired results. Under this type of anesthesia, you will be completely unconscious and immobile for the entirety of the procedure.
Local anesthesia combined with sedation may be used for less complicated procedures such as lower or mini facelifts. In this instance, the area surrounding the surgical site will be numbed and you will receive intravenous sedation to relax you and keep your body still. You may fall asleep as a result of the sedation, but many patients remain awake throughout their procedures.
First, Dr. Alvarez will make the necessary incisions to access areas of the face that need attention. Through these incisions, he will reposition and tighten the facial muscles skin for a smooth, youthful appearance. Fat may be repositioned to fill in facial hollows and promote symmetry. Excess skin and fat will be removed before the incisions are closed and the dressings are applied.
Swelling, bruising, and bleeding at the incision sites are all to be expected following facelift surgery. Patients will need to remain fairly inactive, with the head elevated as much as possible for the first week or so after the procedure to maximize healing and to prevent any unnecessary strain on the body.
Initially, patients may have a surgical drain placed at an incision site to help reduce fluid and swelling. This drain must be emptied and reset frequently to prevent buildup of excess blood or fluid. Drains are typically removed a few days after surgery. The sutures will either dissolve in a couple of weeks, or need to be removed at that time.
Patients can gradually return to normal activities, with most patients returning to office jobs about 1-2 weeks following surgery, depending on the extent of the facelift procedure. Bending, lifting, strenuous exercise, and some other activities will be further restricted for several weeks following the procedure. Patients should take care to follow all instructions provided for recovery, as this will enhance the results of the procedure and help prevent complications.
Swelling will subside over the weeks and months following surgery, and patients can expect to see final results in about 6-12 months, though preliminary results will be visible after about 6-8 weeks.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
Facelift surgery is an extremely custom procedure, and good results require the skill of an expert surgeon. Choosing your plastic surgeon is one of the most important decisions you will make about your procedure, so be sure to do extensive research and meet with several candidates before you make your final choice. It is important to choose a skilled and compassionate doctor you can put your trust in and go to with any questions or concerns. Take your time, and never choose a surgeon who makes you feel uncomfortable in any way.
How long will the procedure last?
Most cosmetic surgeries take at least a few hours to complete, but more extensive surgeries can take much longer. You should expect to spend all day at the surgical center, and a couple of hours in recovery before you will be allowed to return home.
What are the risks of facelift surgery?
As with any invasive surgery, facelift surgery does carry risks, which can be minimized by choosing the right surgeon and practicing good pre- and post-operative care.
Infection is a risk with any surgical procedure, and incision sites should be carefully monitored for possible signs of infection. Swelling accompanied by heat, redness that occurs days or weeks after the procedure, and discolored fluid can all be signs of infection.
Other complications can include numbness, hair loss, poor healing, skin necrosis, and nerve damage.
Smoking is not allowed for at least 6 weeks prior to your procedure, as well as several months after. Tobacco use in general is not advisable for those who will undergo surgery, as complications can arise.
When can I go back to work?
Most facelift patients can return to office work within a week or two, with the understanding that vigorous physical activity is still prohibited until about week 6 or until the surgeon approval is obtained.
How much scarring will there be?
All surgical procedures result in some amount of scarring, which will fade somewhat over time. The amount of scarring from facelift surgery will generally depend on your skin type and color, as well as the facelift type. Rest assured that most surgeons will be able to minimize the amount of scarring that results from the procedure by placing the incisions in discreet locations.
How long will the results last?
The longevity of facelift results is highly variable, since everyone ages at a different rate. Lifestyle, genetics, and environment all play a role in how long the results of a facelift will last. Patients who lead a healthy lifestyle should expect the results of a facelift to last many years—as many as 8-10 for a full facelift. It is important to note, however, that a facelift cannot stop aging altogether, but it can slow the process down.
Schedule your consultation with Dr. Alvarez today! Call 305-600-4146 or fill out the contact form in this page.