Scrolling through the photos of your mother’s 80th birthday party you stop at your favourite one. Your mother, sister, brother and you are raising a glass of champagne and smiling at the camera. But looking more closely you notice something you’ve never seen before – your face and neck are starting to look like your mother’s!
You’ve always looked after yourself by wearing sunscreen every day, eating healthy food and exercising regularly. And since your late 30’s you’ve had regular Botox and dermal filler injections. But as you head into your 50’s you start to wonder if all the non-surgical anti-ageing treatments you’ve been having are working?
Doing some research, you discover that while these anti-ageing treatments work at the surface level, they won’t have the same effect as a surgical treatment. And that’s when you decide to find out more about facelift surgery. Because even though you love your mother, you don’t want her droopy face and neck.
What is facelift surgery?
Facelift surgery is a cosmetic surgical procedure that tightens and lifts the soft tissues of your neck and face. A facelift procedure can also address wrinkles, sagging and loose skin, fat deposits, and other visible signs of ageing on your face.
Good facelift surgery will make you look younger and fresher. It can restore your face to a firmer and more youthful version of yourself but should not look like you are dramatically different. Research has shown that the perceived age of your face and neck can be reduced by 8 years.
Why do people get facelift surgery?
People consider getting a facelift when they notice changes in their face and neck including wrinkled skin, a loss of shape, tired-looking eyes, a sagging mouth and droopy cheeks. Facelift surgery is an option for people who feel that their face is ageing, where non-surgical treatments are not adequate, and where they are a healthy weight and in good health. It’s important to note that most surgeons won’t perform facelift surgery on active smokers.
Ageing in your face happens in the following areas:
- Structure: When your underlying facial soft tissue and bones lose shape, you can prematurely age.
- Gravity: Over time the effects of gravity pull your brow, jawline, neck tissue and cheeks downwards.
- Volume: As you age, the loss of volume in parts of your face including your cheeks and lower eyelids can result in a tired and drawn down appearance.
- Texture: Over time your skin texture changes. This results in loss of elasticity wrinkling, pigment changes, broken veins and dry patches due to sun damage.
What happens during a facelift procedure?
During the facelift procedure, your Facelift Surgeon makes incisions around your ears and in the folds of skin joining your ear to the head. These incisions may extend up into your temple, and down along the hairline behind your ear. Through these incisions, the skin and deeper layers of your face are carefully tightened, lifted, repositioned and trimmed.
Facelift surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes two to three hours. You may also have injections of local anaesthetic to help with the pain after the operation. Every facelift operation is individually designed to meet the needs of the patient. Some facelifts will be rapid recovery or minimal scar procedures, while some may be a major operation (like the SMAS procedure).
The most common type of facelift is called the SMAS facelift, which goes deeper than traditional facelift surgery to lift and reduce sagging jowls, loose necks and cheeks. The SMAS facelift also tightens the deeper layer of tough tissue under your skin. Read more about different types of facelifts here.
The range of procedures used in facelift surgery include:
- Volume correction procedures including facial implants, bone substitutes, fat cell grafting and other filler injections. These improve specific areas of atrophy, loss or flattening of volume.
- A brow lift, facelift, temple lift, cheek lift and neck lift.
- Skin improvement procedures that are either surgical or non-surgical. A skin maintenance plan can be established where it’s needed, including dermal fillers, Botox, laser treatment and peels.
I want facelift surgery. What is the recovery like?
After facelift surgery, your face will be swollen and bruised. It may take up to two weeks for the swelling and bruising to settle. Facelifts and brow lifts require bandaging but drain tubes are not generally required. With most facelift procedures you will have protective ointment in your eyes. When you wake up your vision may be blurry.
Most facial procedures result in discomfort, rather than pain, however medication will be given to limit any pain and nausea. The operated area may remain numb because we use local anaesthetic to minimise discomfort.
At home you should set yourself up in a comfortable chair, couch or bed, with your head elevated. It’s important not to overstretch your mouth or neck for about two to four weeks. The food you eat should be in small, bite-sized pieces, which require minimal chewing. This lets the tissues, which have been tightened heal without stretching. During your recovery from facelift surgery, it’s vital to maintain an adequate fluid intake.
Does facelift surgery have risks or complications?
Any surgical operation brings complications of anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist will be able to discuss with you the possible complications of having an anaesthetic.
Specific risks and complications from facelift surgery include:
- Scarring: All surgery leaves scars, some more visible than others.
- Nerve Injury: Nerve injuries may cause temporary or permanent loss of facial movements. These injuries may improve over time.
- Loss of skin sensation: As skin is elevated in facelift surgery, it’s normal for the patient to have some loss of sensation to the skin of the lateral or outer cheek.
- Healing Issues: Certain medical conditions, dietary supplements and medications may delay and interfere with healing.
- Bleeding: It is possible, though unusual, to experience a bleeding episode during or after surgery.
- Infection: Infection is unusual after facelift surgery.
- Firmness: Excessive firmness can occur after surgery due to internal scarring.
- Skin Contour Irregularities: Contour, shape irregularities and visible wrinkling of the skin may occur.
- Major Wound Separation: Wounds may separate after surgery. Should this occur, additional treatment including surgery may be necessary.
- Delayed Healing: Wound disruption or delayed wound healing is possible. Some areas of the skin may not heal normally and may take a long time to heal while some areas of skin may die.
- Pain: You’ll experience some tightness and discomfort after your surgery.
Find out more about the risks and complications of facelift surgery here.
What results can I expect from having facelift surgery?
It usually takes a few weeks for your face to look and feel more natural. The results of a facelift last for a long time. Your face will still continue to age but should always appear younger than if you had not had surgery.
A period of psychological adjustment is common after facelift surgery. Patients report they go through a variety of moods postoperatively. As they recover, and the postoperative period of swelling, fresh wounds and bruising passes, patients feel more positive. After a month or so, most facelift surgery patients feel extremely positive.
How do I find the best Facelift Surgeons in Australia?
Facelift surgery is a cosmetic operation to make your face appear younger. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results. The face is not symmetric and almost everyone has some degree of unevenness, which may not be recognized in advance. One side of the face may be slightly larger, while the other side of the face may be droopier. Some issues with your face may not be fully corrected with surgery.
Before deciding if facelift surgery is suitable for you, your surgeon will carry out a detailed assessment. This may include taking photos for your medical records and asking you questions about your medical history. For the operation to be successful it’s important that you have good bone structure and that your skin has elasticity. If you’re planning on losing a lot of weight, your surgeon may delay the surgery.
Facelift surgery is effective in dealing with the “gravitational effects” of skin looseness and sagging. While facelift surgery is usually safe and effective, complications can happen. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. You can find the best Facelift Surgeons in Australia here.