Face Lift surgery, or Rhytidectomy, is an operation designed to remove
the major folds or wrinkles of the face and neck, which naturally occur
with aging. It may be combined with an eyelid operation (blepharoplasty)
that addresses the aging process in the eyelids or a forehead lift to address
loose skin in the forehead and brow.
Frequently Asked Questions.
How is the surgery performed? Every surgeon approaches the procedure
in his or her own way.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural
line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the
ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs
work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.
In general, the surgeon separates the skin from the fat and muscle below.
Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve
the contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane,
pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers
of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp.
Following surgery, a small thin tube may be temporarily placed under the
skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon
may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
Will the surgery result in permanent scarring? The scars from face
lift surgery usually fade and are barely perceptible. In some patients,
especially younger ones, endoscopic surgery can be used to lift the eyebrows,
remove frown lines, elevate the cheek and jowls, and tighten the neck. This
endoscopic surgery can be done with tiny scars. However, if there is excessive
skin, it must be removed for the best results through standard face lift
How long does the procedure take? The operation generally takes three
and half to four hours or longer if you're having more than one procedure
done. After a suitable recovery period, you can go home with a family member
or responsible adult. If you have other procedures done at the same time,
or if you have no one to be with you at home, it may be wiser to stay in
the hospital overnight.
How long is the recovery time? Generally one should allow at least
three weeks after a face lift before resuming full social activity and employment.
It is possible that, with modest makeup, you will be able to return to activity
much sooner. We suggest that three weeks be available for recuperation.
How can I hide things during the time until I return to normal? Your
surgeon will discuss post-operative camouflage techniques with you prior
to your surgery, but be assured that while almost everyone has some sort
of temporary side effect such as bruising and swelling, there are makeup
techniques that both men and women can use almost immediately to disguise
them. Generally speaking, makeup techniques can be used soon after surgery
to cover discolorations, and to hide incision lines after the stitches have
been removed and the incision is completely closed. Camouflage cosmetics
include three basic types of products: concealers to hide incision lines
and discolorations; contour shadows to disguise swelling; and color correctors
to neutralize color in reddened skin.
Color correctors disguise yellowish discolorations or the pinkness that
follows chemical peel and dermabrasion. Lavender neutralizes or removes
yellow, and green has a similar effect on red. It will take a little patience
and practice to master camouflage techniques, but most post-op patients
feel it's well worth the effort.
Am I a good candidate for Rhytidectomy? The best candidate for a
face lift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose
skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined.
Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but face lifts can be done
successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.
A face lift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your
self- confidence in the process. But it can't give you a totally different
look, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth. Before you
decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss
them with your surgeon.
Before your procedure.
Since face lifts are very individualized procedures, your surgeon will evaluate
your face, skin and underlying bone, and discuss your goals for the surgery.
Your surgeon should check for medical conditions that could cause problems
during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood
clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars. Be sure to tell
your surgeon if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially
aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.
Specific instructions will be given by your surgeon on how to prepare for
surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking
or avoiding certain vitamins and medications. Carefully following these
instructions will help your surgery go more smoothly. If you smoke, it's
especially important to stop at least a week or two before and after surgery;
smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin, and can interfere with the healing
of your incision areas.
If your hair is very short, you might want to let it grow out before surgery
so that it's long enough to hide the scars while they heal.
Whether your face lift is being done on an outpatient or inpatient basis,
you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and
to help you out for a day or two if needed.
After your procedure.
A bandage is wrapped about the face and head/neck area for approximately
24 to 48 hours. This may be replaced with a smaller one for an additional
day. Keep your head and chest elevated on at least two to three pillows
at all times. Sleep on your back rather than your side. (Sleeping on your
side will cause you to become more swollen on that side.)
A certain amount of swelling, discoloration, of the facial skin is normal
for 10 to 14 days, but major discomfort is unusual. Some numbness of the
cheek and neck will be noted for several weeks. This is not unusual and
does not indicate a complication. It returns to normal after several weeks.
This numbness will not affect facial expression or motion.
The sutures are removed in stages and are usually all out in approximately
8 to 10 days. If you've had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed
one or two days after surgery. Avoid driving for at least one week after
surgery. Avoid high impact exercise for one month after surgery. If you
are a smoker, refrain from smoking for at least three to four weeks.
You should remain in the Honolulu area for one week after your operation.
Any abnormalities or questions should be reported to us at once.