What is a Facelift?
A Facelift is an operation aiming mainly to correct facial skin laxity, through removal of excess skin and repositioning of the underlying tissues. At the moment, it is the only considerably effective method of removing excess skin in that area.
How is a Facelift performed?
The facelift procedure can be performed using a local or general anaesthesia, depending on the patient’s preferences. The plastic surgeon makes a number of incisions amongst the hair, before and behind the ear, which will eventually heal quite discreetly.
Afterwards, the surgeon detaches an extensive quantity of skin, in order to reattach the remaining skin into a new, more upright position. However, this is usually not enough, as the tissues under the skin also require a certain amount of support. We must be aware that when facial skin begins to sag, it is not only the skin that had loosened, but also the tissues that underpin it. As such, getting rid of the excess skin alone is not enough.
Depending on the procedure that is performed on the tissues underneath the skin, there are a number of different techniques available. These techniques are known as the SMAS suspension, the SMAS dissection and suspension, the SMAS imbrication, the extended-SMAS, the SMASectomy, the Subperiosteal Lift, MACS Lift (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension Lift), and various other names.
SMAS (superficial musculo-aponeurotic system) is a layer of aponeurotic tissue extended underneath the skin of the face. It is considered important for the suspension and animation of it. Skin laxity of the face is accompanied by SMAS laxity. For this reason simultaneous suspension of skin and SMAS, is considered of paramount importance for the quality and duration of the results.
Plastic surgeons dealing with a facelift select the technique that is the most appropriate for each patient, tailored to the specifics of patient’s face, according to the particularities of the face.
Facelifts can be combined with other adjunctive procedures, such blepharoplasty, forehead lifts, chin, mandibular or zygomatic implant placement, liposuction, fat injections or removal, chemical peels, laser peels, and many more.
The patients are usually expected to remain in the hospital for one day. Afterwards, they may return home.
The operation is not usually followed by a lot of pain, and the patient can return to housework on the very next day. In some cases there may be some disturbance, which can be easily dealt by using common painkillers.
The recovery period varies, but usually most patients who have undergone a facelift will feel comfortable enough to return to their public life after 15 days. Some patients may require a little more or a little less time, but most still make a return to work after a couple of weeks.
Results of a Facelift
The results will begin to become evident after 2 weeks, by which point the patient’s appearance will have improved considerably. However, it takes approximately 6 months for the healing to complete. This does not, of course, mean that the patient’s face will not be presentable during the healing period – on the contrary, it will appear considerably improved in comparison to its original condition.
The duration of the result is dependent on various factors, such as the skin’s quality and the patient’s lifestyle (smoking, diet, fluctuations in weight, etc.). However, the most important factor is the technique employed in the operation.
Mini Lifts (lifts limited to a small area) require a much less extensive procedure, but also produce less noticeable results with shorter durations.
When to undergo a Facelift
In order to achieve satisfaction after a facelift, the procedure must be performed under correct specifications. The correction of sagging, excess skin and extensive wrinkling in the face must be the main aim. This must be stressed, as many aspiring patients believe facelifts to be a magical invention capable of correcting any and all facial flaws. This is not true. Facelifts cannot repair damage to the skin’s quality, very fine wrinkles, spots, freckles, or in general any skin features which determine its quality. Adjunctive procedures can be performed with or without face lift in order to correct them. On the other hand, several non-surgical methods are claimed to be capable of repairing loose skin. In practice, non-surgical methods produce none to minimal results –facelifts are currently the only effective method.
Another popular myth claims that facelifts result in the patient becoming deformed. No deformation occurs when the facelift is performed correctly, and it must be noted that such deformations are usually caused by injectable materials of inferior quality, not facelifts. After all, facelifts do not involve the addition of bulk.
There is no specific age at which a facelift should be undergone. It must simply be pursued when it is necessary, i.e. when there is a genuine excess of loose skin.
Facelifts can be undergone at any season, regardless of the time of year.
In order to achieve satisfactory results, it is essential that each individual case is correctly assessed, that the technique the practitioner will employ has been correctly selected, and of course that the operation is performed carefully and meticulously. Under these conditions, there is no chance of the operation resulting in deformations – the patients will simply obtain a more youthful appearance, their features remaining entirely unaltered.