What Is a Facelift?
A facelift, also known as a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that can rewind the signs of aging and return youth to the face. The procedure tightens facial muscles, removes excess fat, and tightens sagging skin. Overall, a facelift can work to remove wrinkles and give the face a more contoured appearance.
Candidates for Facial Rejuvenation
The face usually portrays the first visible signs of aging. Both gravity and diminished volume result in the facial features of aging. Most patients requesting an evaluation for a facelift feel that their facial features do not reflect their youthful spirit and energy level. They are looking for ways to refresh and rejuvenate their appearance.
There are many different variations of the facelift procedure that smooth the skin of the face and neck, tighten the underlying tissues and muscle, and remove excess skin. Ultimately, the facelift will allow you to turn back the hands of time to better reflect your youthful spirit.
Rhytidectomy Consultation with Dr. Barrera
During the pre-operative consultation, Dr. Barrera will perform a history and physical examination. During your physical examination, your facial bone structure, underlying skin structure, skin thickness, texture, and elasticity, as well as the extent of facial wrinkles and folds, will be assessed. This information will be used to formulate a surgical plan and the goals of the procedure will be discussed.
Generally, a facelift is a very versatile procedure, and Dr. Barrera will explain the technique that he or she feels most comfortable with and that offers the lowest risk. Dr. Barrera will select the surgical technique that he or she feels will obtain the best outcome for you based on your discussions regarding the outcome you wish to achieve.
The facelift procedure continues to evolve. Over the years, the procedure has changed from simple skin lifting to more complex deeper plane lifting techniques. Today, many different techniques exist, with outcomes that are consistently reliable and durable. The facelift procedure usually involves incisions in front of and behind the ear. The incisions may extend into the scalp.
Once the incisions are made, various degrees of undermining of the skin is performed, and the deeper layers of the face are ‘lifted’. Muscle tightening, as well as liposuction of the neck and jowls, may be performed, and excess skin is either removed or repositioned. The results are a reversal of the effects of gravity and tightening of soft tissues of the face to restore a more youthful contour to the face.
Facelift Surgery Before and After
What to Expect Prior to Facelift Procedure
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of the surgery. Certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and some vitamins/homeopathic regimens should be discontinued prior to surgery.
If your hair is short, you may want it to grow out enough to cover your incisions while they heal. Any chemical processing of your hair should be performed prior to surgery since you cannot have any of these procedures for a month or more after surgery. If your facelift will be performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Is Anesthesia is Used For a Facial Surgery?
Dr. Barrera performs all aesthetic surgery procedures including facelift surgery at his our Accredited Ambulatory Surgical Facility (AAAASF) under IV sedation & local anesthesia, without the need for general anesthesia (painless during and minimal pain afterwards). This provides added safety and faster recovery. Most patients are able to go home within an hour from the end of the 4 to 5-hour procedure with minimal discomfort.
Results of Facelift Surgery
The results of your facelift may be subtle or dramatic, depending on your appearance prior to the surgery as well as the specific goals that you and your plastic surgeon have established. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait several weeks for an accurate picture of your “new look”. Additional minor changes or settling may occur over several months following your facelift surgery.
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Dr. Barrera will give you specific instructions that may include caring for the dressings and incisions, directions for your analgesics and other medications, specific concerns to look for, and when to follow up in the office to monitor your healing process.
What to Avoid Post-Facelift
It may take several months for the swelling to fully resolve, and up to 6 months for the incision scars to fully fade. Avoidance of factors that could reduce the benefits of the surgery, such as excessive unprotected sun exposure and cigarette use, is vital. If you do not want a delayed healing process, you should avoid:
- Non-Steroidal, Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Second-Hand Smoke Exposure
- Strenuous Activity
What to Expect After Your Facelift Surgery
Do not be alarmed if you are experiencing any of the following side effects:
- Temporary Asymmetry
These side effects should subside as your healing process progresses. Most swelling is usually noted in the first 24 to 48 hours, and most bruising resolves within 2 weeks. Numbness, however, may take several months to resolve.
Is Facelift Surgery Painful?
The way Dr. Alfonso Barrera does his facelifts, there is no pain at all during surgery and minimal to no pain afterwards.
What Type of Anesthesia is Used for a Facial Rejuvenation Surgery?
I always do my facelifts under a twilight IV Sedation and Local anesthesia. It is extremely rare to have nausea or vomiting after surgery, which allows a faster recovery to go home or to a local hotel the same day soon after the procedure. This also eliminates the risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary emboli which may occasionally occur when done under General Anesthesia with gases. I do not like to use General anesthesia, especially because, it is not necessary. When you receive General Anesthesia you would need to be paralyzed, and intubated so you breathe. With IV Sedation and local, you are not paralyzed and you are breathing on your own. With General anesthesia, the recovery is much slower with a higher risk for nausea and vomiting additionally after using general anesthesia often an overnight stay in the hospital is necessary.
How Long Am I Going to Have Bruising After Face Surgery?
It varies from patient to patient, some within 7-14 days look great already with minimal to no bruising. In other patients (especially if they have high blood pressure or tendency to bruise easily) may take 2-3 weeks for some of the bruising to go away.
How Soon Can I Return to Work After My Facelift?
Most patients are able to go back in about 7- 10 days. Any remaining bruising can be camouflaged with makeup to help with the appearance.
Is Facelift a safe procedure? It is very safe if performed by an experienced, careful and well qualified Plastic Surgeon it is very safe.
What Are The Risks of Rhytidectomy Surgery?
Fortunately, significant complications from facelifts are infrequent. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful facelift surgery and are pleased with the results. However, anyone considering surgery should be aware of both the benefits and risks. These are best discussed on a personal basis with Dr. Barrera or one of his qualified staff members.
Some of the potential complications that may occur include:
- Hematoma, (about 1-2 % of the cases), is a collection of blood under the skin, which can safely and quickly be handled. It requires going back to the operating room.
- Infection, extremely rare (in my experience 1 in 800 cases) especially giving antibiotics by mouth one day prior to surgery, during surgery and after the procedure for a couple days by mouth.
- Nerve injury: Very low incidence, as extreme care and gentleness is always given. I personally have never had a single case of this.
While plastic surgeons are trained in techniques for safely manipulating facial skin and tissues, injury to underlying structures is possible, though usually temporary. Facelift incisions are usually quite inconspicuous; however, this is not entirely predictable due to individual variations in healing. You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions given to you by your plastic surgeon both before and after surgery.
Schedule a Consultation
Tired of noticing signs of aging in the mirror? Call (713) 468-5200 to schedule your facelift consultation with Alfonso Barrera, MD today!