Facelift Surgery – Ultimate Guide

If you’re seeking a younger appearance on your face, then a facelift (rhytidectomy) is a great cosmetic surgical procedure for you. A facelift can change the shape of your face due to aging. Also, it can reduce any sagging or folds of your skin on the jawline and cheeks.

Your surgeon will pull back any flap skin on both sides during a facelift. We can return your face contour to a more youthful shape and surgically alter tissues below the skin. Finally, excess skin is removed before the flap is sutured closed.

A facelift is usually done with a neck lift (platysmaplasty) to reduce sagging skin and fat deposits on the neck.

However, you should know a facelift won’t reduce fine wrinkles or creases in your skin or damage from sun exposure. You can consult with your surgeon to know which cosmetic procedures can achieve the appearance or quality of the skin you need.

Your face shape and appearance change as you get older, causing your skin to become looser and less elastic. Also, fat deposits increase in different areas of your face and decrease in others. So, a facelift can reduce age-related changes in your face, including the following:

  • Excess skin at your jowls (lower jawline)
  • Sagging skin on your cheeks
  • Excess fat and sagging skin in your neck (if the surgery includes a neck lift)
  • Deepening of the fold of skin from the corner of your mouth to your nose side

You should know that a facelift doesn’t treat creases around the nose and upper lip, superficial wrinkles, irregularities in skin color, or sun damage.

How Do You Prepare for A Facelift?

During your first consultation, your plastic surgeon will discuss with you a facelift. Likely, the visit will include:

1. Facial Exam

Your cosmetic surgeon will take photos of different angles of your face and close-ups of some facial features. Also, he or she will examine the quality of your skin, the shape of your face, your bone structure, and your fat distribution to decide what is the best surgical option for you.

2. Expectations

Get ready to answer questions your surgeon will ask regarding your expectations from a facelift. During your first visit, you’ll understand what a facelift can and cannot change. For example, a facelift cannot address naturally occurring asymmetry in your face or fine wrinkles.

3. Medication review

It’s best to prepare a list of the name and dosages of the medications you regularly take. You should include over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal medications.

4. Medical History and Exam

Your surgeon will ask questions about your history of smoking, drug or alcohol use, your previous surgeries, previous plastic surgeries, complications from previous surgeries, and past and current medical conditions.

Also, your surgeon will ask for recent medical records from your doctor and do a physical exam. Finally, if your surgeon finds any reason why you shouldn’t do a facelift, he or she will request a consultation with a specialist to confirm or deny his/her concerns.

Before A Facelift

Follow Medication Directions

Your surgeon will give you instructions about which medications to stop consuming. Before surgery, you should discontinue any blood-thinning medication or supplement for at least two weeks. Feel free to discuss with your surgeon what medications are safe to take before and after a facelift and dosage adjustment.

Wash Your Face And Hair

On the morning of the surgery, your surgeon will ask you to use germicidal soap to wash your face and hair.

Avoid Eating

The night before your facelift, it’s best to avoid eating anything after midnight. You can drink water and take medications that your surgeon approves.

Arrange for Help During Recovery

Plan with someone who can drive you home if you’re doing a facelift as an outpatient procedure after surgery and stay with you the first night.+

What You Can Expect

Depending on what you need to do and its extent, your surgeon will decide if a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility is best for you.

Also, your surgeon will decide whether the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia (numbs only part of your body) or general anesthesia (renders you unconscious).

What You Expect from Facelift Surgery

During A facelift Procedure

Generally, a facelift involves elevating and tightening the skin, muscles, and underlying tissues. The surgeon sculpts, removes, and redistributes fat in the face and neck. Then, your surgeon re-drapes your facial skin on the face’s newly repositioned contours, removes excess skin, and stitches the wound.

Your surgeon will determine the type of incisions for the procedure depending on the patient’s preferences and the favorable techniques. Incisions options include:

· A Traditional Facelift Incision

It begins at your temples in the hairline, goes around and down the front of your ears, and ends in your lower scalp behind your ears. Your surgeon might make an incision under your chin to improve your neck appearance.

· A limited incision

It is a shorter incision that starts just above your ear in your hairline and wraps around the front of your ear. However, a limited incision doesn’t extend into the lower scalp.

· Neck lift incision

It starts in front of your earlobe and extends into your lower scalp around your ear. Also, your surgeon makes a small incision under your chin.

Generally, it takes two to four hours to perform a facelift takes. It might take even longer if you requested other cosmetic procedures to be done along with the facelift.

After A Facelift Surgery

You may experience some symptoms after a facelift, including:

  • Numbness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Drainage from the incisions
  • Mild to moderate pain

Contact your surgeon immediately if you experience:

  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Chest pain
  • Severe pain on one side of your neck or face during 24 hours of surgery
  • Shortness of breath

Your surgeon will cover the incisions with bandages with gentle pressure to reduce bruising and swelling. Also, your doctor might place a small tube under the skin (behind one or both ears) after surgery to drain any excess fluid or blood.

During the week after surgery:

  • Rest and keep your head elevated
  • Take recommended pain medication to relieve any pain
  • You can reduce swelling and ease pain by applying cool packs to your face

Follow-Up Appointments

After your surgery, your surgeon will schedule with you several follow-up appointments for the next two months. They will include:

  • Your surgeon will remove your drainage tube on the day after surgery. Then, he or she will apply antibiotic ointment to your incisions to prevent any infection and help with recovery. Finally, new bandages will be placed on your face for protection.
  • Two to three days after the previous follow-up, your surgeon will recommend switching the bandages with an elasticized facial sling.
  • Seven days after your procedure, your surgeon removes the stitches and assesses the wound.
  • Finally, you’ll have subsequent visits to monitor your recovery, results, and progress.

Self-care after Facelift

During the first three weeks after a facelift, your surgeon will recommend self-care at home to help with your recovery and reduce the risk of complications:

  • Follow your surgeon’s wound care instructions.
  • Avoid using makeup.
  • Limit aerobic or vigorous activity and sports.
  • Don’t pick and pull at crusting scabs on your wound.
  • Avoid bleaching, coloring, or perming your hair for at least two months.
  • Avoid excessive motion or pressure around and on your incisions.
  • Don’t use shampoo or soaps other than what your surgeon recommends and when to use them.
  • Avoid clothes that are pulled over the head; instead, wear clothes that fasten in the front.
  • Don’t expose your incision to direct sun for three weeks, and ask your surgeon which sunscreen to use. Usually, it’s recommended to use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher after that.

After a facelift, you can hide any remaining signs of the incision by styling your hair. Also, for a few months, you might delay going to major social events until you get back to normal.


After a facelift, you’ll enjoy a more youthful-looking face and neck. However, you should know that its results are not permanent. Your facial skin may start to droop again as you get older. Typically, you can maintain your facelift results for almost 10 years.

Facelift Risks

Facelift Risks

Facelift surgery, like any other surgery, has risks and complications. Luckily, you can manage some with appropriate care, medicines, or surgical procedures. Rarely will long-term or permanent complications cause significant changes in your appearance. Facelift risks and complications include:


Although facelift incision scars are permanent, typically, you can conceal them by the hairline and natural contours of the face and ear. Rarely, incisions can result in raised, red scars. You can use corticosteroid injections or other treatments to improve the appearance of scars.


It is the most common complication of facelift surgery, where blood collection under the skin (hematoma) causes pressure and swelling. During the first 24 hours after surgery, hematoma formation usually occurs. However, it is treated promptly with surgery to prevent skin or tissue damage.

Hair Loss

Some patients experience permanent or temporary loss of hair at and around the incision sites. A hair transplant can fix permanent hair loss with surgery.

Blood-Thinning Medications Or Supplements

After surgery, it’s important to avoid any blood-thinning medications or supplements since they increase the risk of hematomas and affect your blood’s clotting ability. Blood thinners like Coumadin, Plavix, aspirin, fish oil, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, and others are dangerous after surgery.

Nerve Injury

It’s rare when patients suffer from a nerve injury that can temporarily or permanently affect nerves controlling muscle or sensation. Temporary paralysis of a select muscle can last a few months to a year. It can cause temporary loss of sensation or an uneven facial expression appearance. Accordingly, your surgeon will perform surgical interventions for some improvement.

Skin Loss

Rarely can a facelift cause an interruption of blood supply to facial tissues resulting in skin loss (sloughing). Eventually, your surgeon will prescribe medications and educate you on appropriate wound care to treat sloughing. Sometimes, yet rarely, skin loss may need a procedure to minimize scarring.


Your surgeon will urgently ask you to stop smoking after a facelift since it subjects you to risks like hematomas, poor wound healing risk, and skin loss (sloughing).

Medical Conditions

Your surgeon won’t perform a facelift if you have a medical condition that affects blood clotting. So, conditions like high blood pressure or poorly controlled diabetes increase the risk of heart complications, hematomas, and poor wound healing.

Weight Fluctuation

As you gain and lose weight in a significant manner, it will affect the condition and shape of your face. So, if your surgeon finds that you’ve gained and lost drastic weight over the last year or so, he or she will advise against a facelift since weight shifting will affect your results.

A facelift, like any other major cosmetic surgery, has a risk of infection, bleeding, and an adverse or allergic reaction to anesthesia. Also, your surgeon will educate you on lifestyle habits and certain medical conditions that can increase the risk of complications. Your doctor may advise against a facelift if you have or do any risk factors since it may cause unfavorable results.

Facelift FAQs

At What Age Can I Consider A Facelift?

If you are in good health and have enough sagging or excess skin on your face and neck, you may be a good candidate for a facelift. Normally, patients in their 40s to 60s when coming to our cosmetic surgeons for a facelift. Also, They are patients in their 70’s or 80’s and had amazing facelift results.

How Many Years Younger Will I Look After A Facelift?

We usually clarify that a facelift will definitely make you look younger, but it won’t stop the aging process. So, it can improve your facial and neck appearance by taking you back in time and making you look youthful.

Your surgeon will consider things like your skin texture, smoking history, sun exposure, bone structure, heredity, and others. They all play a role in the extent of facial improvement you obtain from a facelift and influence how long your results will last.

Will I Look “Tight” At The Corners Of My Mouth After Facelift Surgery?

A facelift tightens the skin, removes excess fat, and tightens underlying muscles in the lower two-thirds of the face and neck, providing a more youthful, fresher appearance. The end result of a facelift will look natural; it is not designed to pull the skin so tight that it would alter the corners of your mouth.

Will A Facelift Fix The Lines Around My Eyes And Forehead?

Your surgeon will explain how a facelift cannot change the upper third face appearance. Also, it won’t help with the excess lines and skin around the eyes and the brow. To improve the appearance of your eyes or brows, you can ask for an eyelid or brow lift. Your surgeon will be open to discussing any aesthetic concerns you might have. Then, he or she will recommend the ideal facial rejuvenation procedure, or a combination of procedures, right for you to achieve your goals.

Where Will The Surgeon Place The Incisions, And Are They Noticeable?

First, facelift incisions start at the temple above the hairline. Then, they go in a natural line inside the cartilage at the ear front. Finally, it ends behind the earlobe to the lower scalp inside the hairline.

Generally, incisions are hidden in a natural crease or behind the hairline. Luckily, they are not very noticeable once the scars have matured and softened after several months. If you’re getting a neck lift along with a facelift, then your surgeon may need to make a small incision under your chin.

Will You Shave My Hair For Facelift Surgery?

Your medical team will shave a small amount of hair if your surgeon decides to place the incisions back behind the hairline. After tightening and pulling the skin back, the shaved area is removed, so there is no missing hair.

How Long Does The Facelift Surgery Take?

Your surgeon will tell you how long your surgery will take, depending on the extent of the work done to achieve your goals. However, a facelift can last for an average of three hours. Frequently, surgeons combine cosmetic procedures like forehead and blepharoplasty lifts with a facelift, causing the operations to last longer than average.

Will My Face Be Numb?

Usually, patients experience some numbness in their cheek and neck area after your facelift procedure. You’ll restore your full facial sensation will in 1-2 months.

When Can I Return To My Regular Routine?

Your movement and activities will be significantly restricted during the first few days after a facelift. Also, your surgeon will advise you to rest with your head elevated to help with your recovery.

It’s always best to rest the first week after a facelift at home. Then, your surgeon will schedule a visit to remove your dressing, after which you may wash your hair gently with care around your incisions. As a general rule, after surgery, you should avoid any strenuous activity for the first 2-3 weeks. Moreover, you allow your face plenty of time to rest and limit your sun exposure for a couple of months so that you can heal the incisions.

How Long Before I Can Be In Public After A Facelift?

Typically, your face will be bruised and swollen after a facelift. Your facial movements may be slightly stiff, and your facial features may be distorted. It can take two to three weeks for some of the bruising and swelling to start healing. Luckily, you can go back to work 10-14 days after surgery. However, you could use some makeup to hide some residual bruising and swelling.

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