Facelift: achieving long-lasting rejuvenation over time

Aging, the effect of gravity, sun exposure and daily stress produce signs of aging in the face. As a consequence, the folds between the nose and mouth become more accentuated, the edge of the jawline loses definition and more fat accumulation is seen in the neck.

A facelift or rhytidectomy does not slow down the aging process but it can “delay” the aging clock and improve these signs.

Who can undergo a facelift?

The best candidates for a facelift are patients whose skin has begun to sag, but who maintain a good degree of elasticity. The facelift does not necessarily rejuvenate a certain number of years, but it can give the patient a better appearance and a more youthful look.

Are there any risks involved in a facelift?

Normally the complications that appear in a facelift operation are minor. In any case, the different anatomies, healing capacity and physical reaction of patients means that the final result is never predictable. Thus, some of the complications that may appear are hematomas, infection, adverse reactions to anesthesia or injuries to the deep structures or nerves that control the movement of the muscles of the face. Abnormal healing or delayed wound healing is more common in smokers.

In any case, the facelift, like other procedures, must be individualized, and will depend on the condition of the patient’s skin and facial bones. It is essential that you advise your Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery specialist about any medications you are taking (especially acetylsalicylic acid), as well as any specific medical conditions you may have.

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What does a facelift consist of?

A facelift can be performed under local or general anesthesia. Depending on the type of anesthesia and the extent of the facelift, it may be necessary for the patient to be hospitalized for at least one day. However, in most cases it is done on an outpatient basis.

Each case will be different:

  • The placement and extent of the incisions.
  • The areas of the face to be improved
  • The use (or not) of complementary techniques (cheek augmentation, eyelid surgery).
  • The duration of the procedure

Incisions usually start in the temple area (inside the hair or in front of the sideburn), extending inside the natural lines in front of the ear, and continue into the earlobe, behind the ear and scalp. If the neck needs any special treatment it will be necessary to make an incision just below the chin. Sometimes two incisions are also made on the inside of the mouth, to elevate and shape the cheekbones.

The procedure consists of tightening the muscle layers and repositioning the skin, removing the excess tissue. When the intervention is finished, the wounds are closed with stitches, leaving small tubes under the skin so that blood or exudates do not accumulate. Then a light bandage will be applied.

There is the possibility of less extensive facelifts such as, for example, 1/3 middle, to raise only cheeks and cheekbones. There is also a neck lift, forehead and eyebrow lift, or mini face lift. The choice of one technique or another will depend on the severity and location of the problem.

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What will the postoperative period be like after a facelift?

The postoperative period is not usually painful and the few discomforts that appear are controlled with painkillers. The bandage and drainage tubes are usually removed after 24-48 hours.

It is normal for the patient to notice that the skin is a little “corked”, but it is something transitory that will disappear in the following weeks. It is also completely normal to have a swollen and bruised face, which will last 10-15 days if the patient follows the specialist’s instructions correctly.

It is recommended that the patient does not work and avoids exercise or those activities more “violent” in the two-three weeks following the operation. Thereafter the swelling will normalize and the bruising will disappear. The scars will take a little longer to be concealed but will eventually become imperceptible.

What will the results be like after a facelift?

The results are very satisfactory but the patient must understand that they will not be immediate. Even after the bruising and swelling disappear, the hair on the temples may be fine and the skin may be a little dry and rough for a few months. The scars (which will become less visible over time) will be concealed behind the hair and in the creases of the face.

It should be noted that a facelift does not stop the aging clock. The person will continue to get older and may even want a new facelift after 5-10 years. However, the results are long-lasting and even if a few years go by, the patient will still look younger.