As we age, we sometimes find that our outward appearance does not positively reflect how we feel inside. We are living longer and more actively than previous generations, which has led many adults to feel dissatisfied with the way that aging affects their facial aesthetic. Facelift surgery is a common procedure that turns back the hands of time just enough to allow that inner glow to shine through.
What is facelift surgery?
Facelift surgery is a collection of techniques performed to reduce the prominence of lines and creases around the nose and mouth and to lift tissue that has become lax across the skeletal structure of the face. The appropriate facelift technique may vary from one person to another, but ultimately this procedure counteracts the signs of aging by repositioning muscle and fat tissue and trimming away excess skin.
Benefits of a Facelift
The general benefit of a surgical facelift is that this treatment can make you appear 10 to 15 years younger! A facelift focuses on both the upper and lower regions of the face. At NSPS, we perform facial fat grafting with our facelift procedures, in order to also focus attention to some of the upper facial features such as the deflated temple or eyelid region. As we age, our fat in our face tends to drop and settle into undesirable areas. By harvesting fat from another area and injecting it into areas in the face, such as the temples, cheeks, tear trough, marionette lines, nasolabial folds, upper lids, etc., we can revitalize the facial structure and re-volumize these depleted areas. As such, the overall facelift technique can improve concerns such as:
- Flattened or sagging cheeks
- Jowls at the sides of the jawline
- Undereye bags or dark circles
- Loose skin under the jawline or chin
- Sagging areas of tissue around the nose and mouth
- Deep creases around the nose and mouth or the mouth and chin
- Hollowed eyelids and temples
What Our Patients Say
“Dr. Neil Fine is not only an extremely skilled surgeon but also a very compassionate, patient and extraordinary human being. He takes the time to hear what you are looking for as well as offering options to the procedure you are about to have. Through this process he instills confidence so that you feel like you have made the right decision. His results are amazing and exceed any expectations…” – E.O.
Who is an ideal candidate for a facelift?
Facelift surgery can reduce the lines and creases around the nose and mouth, while lifting the tissues that have become stretchy or loose with age. If you feel that your skin has become looser and you are noticing more lines and wrinkles, facelift surgery may be right for you! During this surgery, we also restore volume to the face by doing facial fat grafting. If you are experiencing these issues but are looking for something with less downtime, non-surgical options for facelifts are also possible, which we can discuss in more detail at your consult.
Types of Facelifts
A facelift is a customized treatment plan based on individual needs. Common techniques include:
- Full Facelift. The traditional full facelift sculpts the lower face and neck by repositioning muscle and dermal tissues into a higher and slightly tighter drape across the mid-face skeletal structure. Excess tissue is trimmed to allow the skin to lie smoothly over repositioned anatomy. This technique lifts skin that has begun to sag at the jawline, chin, and neck. The full facelift is typically performed through incisions in front of and around the ears, where scarring is minimal.
- Mid-face Lift. The mid-face is a prominent area of concern for many adults. This “mini” lift focuses on the cheeks and undereye area to restore the firm, taut appearance to tissue overlying the cheekbones. The mid-face lift is conducted through small incisions in front of the ears. This approach will not change the appearance of the neck.
A facelift may also address different planes of tissue:
- The deep plane facelift is comprehensive and offers long-lasting results. This technique manipulates the layer of muscle that lies over the bony structures in the mid-face. The procedure involves muscle release from points of attachment and repositioning to a more youthful foundation.
- The SMAS lift addresses the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System, a more superficial layer of muscle tissue that becomes lax and loose with age. A SMAS lift may tighten muscles in various directions to achieve a naturally younger-looking aesthetic.
Facelifts are usually conducted on an outpatient basis. Patients can expect their surgery to last a few hours, depending on the selected technique. A facelift may be performed with general anesthesia or IV sedation. This choice is made with anesthesia’s guidance and can be based on the extent of tissue manipulation that will occur during the procedure.
Generally, a facelift will involve incisions in front of and around the back of the ear or, in some cases, the temple. Through the incisions, the muscles and connective tissue are repositioned to achieve the desired drape across bony structures. Tissues are secured into their new location and excess skin is trimmed as needed to reduce lines and creases as well as jowls and sagging neck skin. Incisions are sutured and a dressing or compression wrap may be placed.
Recovery after Facelift Surgery
Following a facelift, a patient may have drains in place to allow fluid to drain naturally from the surgical area. If drainage tubes are placed, they may be removed the day after surgery. Not all patients require this step, but all patients should expect to be bandaged after surgery. After a facelift, you will go home with a compression wrap around your head and neck. Bandages may be removed the day following the procedure. Stitches are internal and dissolving, thus do not need to be removed.
Initial recovery after a facelift will involve swelling and bruising. Some patients may feel numbness or tingling in certain areas. The face and neck feel tight due to the new position of the skin and muscle tissue. Pain medication is prescribed to manage comfort. Narcotics may cause grogginess and should be taken only as directed.
Swelling decreases significantly within the first two weeks of recovery. During this time, bruises may be camouflaged with makeup. Some patients prefer to remain at home and out of the public eye. Walking is encouraged right away but strenuous activity should be avoided for several weeks.
By one-month post-op, most of the swelling and bruising should be resolved and the majority of normal activities can be resumed. This may take longer or shorter depending on individual circumstance.
A facelift rejuvenates the face in a way that looks natural and beautiful. No one should be able to tell that work has been done, only that the face appears younger and more vibrant. A facelift permanently turns back the hands of time but it does not stop the aging process. With good sun habits, daily skin care, and periodic treatments like chemical peels, microneedling, or laser treatments, the progression of facial aging may be slowed.
Before & After Facelift Surgery
risks involved with a facelift
We discuss the various risks associated with plastic surgery during our consultation visit. Some of the possible complications that may result from surgery include:
- Blood or fluid accumulation beneath the skin
- Asymmetrical results
- Persistent numbness
- Poor scarring
Are there scars that result from a facelift?
As with any surgery, scarring is inevitable but we make many efforts to create the best possible scar. With facelift procedures, your surgeon may strategically create incisions along areas that may be camouflaged by your ears, hair, etc. Your incision site/s will be red/pinkish in color during your initial recovery period, and over time will likely fade into a thin white line. We also have several treatments ranging from topical scar gels to laser treatments that may aid in the appearance of scars.
How long will the effects of a facelift last vs. fillers?
A facelift lasts several years and enables you to look forever younger than you would without having had the lift. Dermal fillers can be a good alternative to a facelift, but the results of injectable treatments typically last no more than two years. We are happy to see you for a consultation if you aren’t sure which route is right for you.
Can you combine other procedures with a facelift?
Patients who undergo a facelift may also be interested in injectables like dermal fillers to enhance the contours of the cheeks or Botox to reduce the signs of aging around the eyes. Laser treatments, microneedling, and chemical peels may also be performed before or after tissues have healed to promote smoother, more radiant skin. We always encourage our surgical facelift patients to consult with the Med Spa in order to find a skin treatment that is right for you!
Schedule Your Consultation
You can feel as beautiful on the outside as you do on the inside. Contact Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery at 312.266.6240 and schedule your facelift consultation today! Our practice serves Chicago, Illinois and surrounding areas.