Rhytidectomy (also called Neck Liposuction or Face Lift) can't stop the aging process. What it can do is "set back the clock". The purpose of face lift surgery, also known as facialplasty, rhytidoplasty, or cervicofacial rhytidectomy, is to improve the appearance of the face by repositioning the skin and tightening some of the underlying muscle and tissue. The procedure is designed to counter sagging and looseness in skin and muscle tissue caused by gravity as the patient ages. Face lift surgery will not erase all facial wrinkles, as the term rhytidectomy (which literally means "surgical removal of wrinkles") might imply. Wrinkles around the mouth and eyes, for example, may benefit little from face lift surgery. Other procedures, such as blepharoplasty, chemical peel, or dermabrasion, also may be necessary.
If you're considering a facelift, this article of mine will give you a basic understanding of the procedure when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your surgeon about anything you don't understand.
For more images Face Lift PhotosThe Best Candidates For a Facelift
The best candidate for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but facelifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.
A facelift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your self- confidence in the process. But it can't give you a totally different look, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
Risks and Complications
When a facelift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable.
Complications that can occur include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers.
You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon's advice both before and after surgery.
Types of Anesthesia
Most facelifts are performed under local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and your face will be insensitive to pain. (However, you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.)
Some surgeons prefer a general anesthesia. In that case, you'll sleep through the operation.
In general, the surgeon separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp.
Following surgery, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
For a face lift, an incision is made around the ear at the base of the hairline (A). The skin is removed from underlying tissues in a procedure called undermining (B and C). The skin is pulled up to tighten it (D). The skin is stitched into place and excess is removed (E).
Getting Back to Normal
You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair, since your skin will be both tender and numb, and may not respond normally at first.
Your surgeon will give more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. They're likely to include these suggestions: Avoid strenuous activity, including sex and heavy housework, for at least two weeks (walking and mild stretching are fine); avoid alcohol, steam baths, and saunas for several months. Above all, get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing.
At the beginning, your face may look and feel rather strange. Your features may be distorted from the swelling, your facial movements may be slightly stiff and you'll probably be self-conscious about your scars. Some bruising may persist for two or three weeks, and you may tire easily. It's not surprising that some patients are disappointed and depressed at first.
By the third week, you'll look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If you need it, special camouflage makeup can mask most bruising that remains.