What is it?

A facelift is a surgical procedure designed to improve the lower half of your face, particularly the jaw line and neck. A full-facelift involves extensive surgery and a long recovery period. A mini- facelift involves minimal surgery and shorter recovery period.

Your cosmetic surgeon will assess your skin and deeper tissues of the face and neck and advise you which might the best type of facelift for you. He will discuss with you the degree of improvement you’re looking for and the length of time to recovery that you’re willing to have.

What to expect

A facelift is normally performed under general anaesthetic, with an overnight stay in hospital. In certain circumstances (one-stitch facelift, mini-facelift or R-facelift), it may be possible to carry out the procedure under local anaesthetic and intravenous sedation (not fully asleep, but slightly drowsy).

Depending on the type, the facelift incisions can be made above the hair line, at the temple and continue in the natural skin crease, just in front of the ear, to skirt under the earlobe and behind it, in the crease behind and off into the back of the scalp. A less extensive incision is made in the R-facelift, mini and one-stitch facelift.

Occasionally further skin incisions are necessary, for example, under the chin, if neck skin needs tightening or the fat here needs thinning-out using liposuction. Deep facial and neck tissues under the skin include structures like the platysma muscle (neck) and the more fibrous layer in the face, called the S.M.A.S. Tightening these structures with deep stitches, adds to the overall facelift effect and how long its lasts.

Drains are usually placed under the skin, in both sides of the face, before the skin is stitched back. In the R-facelift no drains are needed. A bandage is placed around the face and neck to support the lifted skin, minimise bruising and swelling. The dressing is removed the next day and the drains, if used, taken out. Surface tapes to the incision lines stay on for 5-7 days and the skin stitches, if needed, are removed at 7 days. In the R-facelift, all the stitches are usually dissolving.

What results can be achieved?

A successful facelift can help you to look younger without it appearing obvious that you have had a facelift. The jawline and jowl may be tighter and the skin may appear firmer with less sagging.

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Common risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. After surgery you are likely to experience:

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  • Swelling and bruising – your surgeon will advise you how long this will last based upon your individual procedure. In the case of facelifts, you may experience it in the neck and cheeks, along with a feeling of stiffness in the face.
  • Pain – this is not generally severe and can be controlled with over the counter painkillers.
  • Scarring – your surgeon will be careful to hide the scars away wherever possible, often behind the hairline or in front of the ear.
  • Numbness – this can take up to a year to disappear.
  • Dissolving skin stitches not holding properly – if this occurs the stitches may need to be removed under local anaesthetic.
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss – this can occur when hair follicles become stressed due to stiches or because of stretched scars in hair-bearing areas. Your surgeon will reduce tension on the skin before and during surgery to reduce the risk of hair loss.
  • Fluid under the skin – a build up of seroma under the skin can occur after surgery, although it is uncommon. It can be drained off using a fine needle and normally settles down after a couple of weeks.
  • Stitch granuloma – sometimes a tender lump or abscess can occur at the stitch site. This is more common where the skin is thinner, such as in front of or behind the ear. The stitch may need to be removed or it may be treated with antibiotics.
More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Plastic surgery alone cannot change your life but it can give you the confidence to make those changes for yourself.

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