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A Newbie’s Guide to Facelift Surgery

Facelift surgery is technically demanding, but it can yield incredible, transformative results. It’s the most effective way to address skin and muscle laxity in the face, and our surgeons are experts at creating a really refreshed and natural look—never “overdone.” And really, these results speak for themselves.


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Are you curious about a facelift procedure and wondering how exactly we go from before to after? If you’re just beginning your research, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to one of our top surgeries.

What do I need to know about facelift surgery before I book a consultation?

Also known as a rhytidectomy, the facelift is a procedure that tightens underlying muscles in the face and redrapes the skin in order to reduce deep creases or wrinkles around the nose and mouth. It also tightens lax skin round the neck and jawline. Every facelift at The Plastic Surgery Clinic is totally customized to the individual patient’s needs and goals.

It can be performed as a standalone procedure, or combined with other facial surgeries like the eyelid lift, forehead lift, or rhinoplasty. It’s also helpful for prospective patients to know that there are different styles of facelift surgeries we perform to get a better sense of questions they might want to ask at a free consult.

The Standard Facelift: This is probably the most popular and most transformative option. Incisions are placed at the front of the ear and extend around the earlobe to the hairline behind the ear. A small incision might also be placed near the chin for any lifting of the neck. Fat may be liposuctioned or trimmed around the neck and chin if greater contouring is required. Underlying muscle is tightened and excess skin is removed. In some cases, fat may be strategically injected to restore volume in other areas of the face.

The Mini-Facelift: If you’re looking for an option that has less scarring and requires less downtime, a mini-facelift might be the right option for you. The tradeoff is that the transformation is less dramatic than with a standard procedure. As a result, many of our mini-facelift patients are in their 40s and are starting to see the first visible signs of tissue laxity around the jawline. This option addresses looseness in the lower face and can be repeated (or updated with a standard lift) 5 to 10 years down the line to maintain that refreshed look.

The Short-Scar Facelift: Sometimes called the limited incision facelift, the short-scar option is designed to achieve a transformative result without conspicuous scars. Incisions are placed just above and below the front of the ear, and unlike the standard facelift, is no scar directly in front of the ear. The scar is placed inside the ear as an alternative. This results in a shorter operation and a somewhat reduced recovery period. Depending on your goals and anatomy, you may or may not be a good candidate for this approach, so this could be an important topic of discussion at your consultation.

You can read about these different approaches as well as non-surgical facelift options here.

Discussing the Facelift with Fat Transfer Option

You may also want to discuss adding fat transfer to your facelift. This might sound a little confusing since fat is typically removed from the neck and jawline for the sake of contouring. And that still remains the case! However, as we age, we tend to lose volume in the mid-face, which contributes to sagging skin, deep creases, and an overall deflated look.

Our surgeons are able to address some of those concerns by stretching the skin. But in a lot of cases, adding very strategic injections of fat cells to the cheeks, lips, around the mouth and even in the tear trough area below the eyes will create a softened look. And did you know that fat contains even more stem cells than bone marrow? Because of this, it also has a tremendous ability to rejuvenate the quality of the skin.

Learn more about the benefits of adding fat transfer to a facelift.

Your Free Facelift Consultation

When you’re ready to take the next step, you’ll come in to our clinic for a free consultation with one of our board certified plastic surgeons. Our consults are always free because we don’t want you to feel any financial pressure to commit to a decision before you have all the information you need.

Your consultation is a really crucial step on your journey. Each patient needs to be evaluated individually to make sure their potential surgery can be completely customized to their wants and needs, and to make sure they’re a good candidate for the procedure. It’s also our job to make sure you have realistic expectations about potential outcomes and that you’re totally informed about potential risks associated with your surgery.

It can also be pretty fun! You get the chance to explain all of your goals. You can bring in photo references of the kind of looks you love and discuss them in depth with your surgeon, and you’ll also have a chance to browse more before and after photos to get an idea of the kinds of results we’ve achieved.

At the end of the conversation, you’ll get a firm quote on the cost of the procedure as discussed with your doctor. You’ll also be given a consultation packet which will include this quote, a document that describes important details to keep in mind for booking your surgery, and booking forms that will help you make your deposit and secure your procedure date when you’re ready to move forward. You’ll also have the contact information of your patient coordinator and information about financing your surgery.

What if you still have questions or concerns after your consultation? That’s totally normal! You might remember a question you forgot to ask, or a new concern may arise when you’ve had more time to process and think it through. You can reach out to our team anytime, and if you prefer, you are certainly always welcome to come back for a follow up consult if needed. The decision to have surgery is a big one and you deserve to have all the information you need.

The Day of Your Facelift Surgery

It’s a big exciting day! By this time you’ll have provided the necessary documentation and medical forms including your labs, which are due within 2 weeks of your surgery date. But don’t worry, your patient coordinator will be there to help support and assist you through this entire process and make sure you’re approaching your operation safely and in good health.

Your chosen caregiver will drop you off at our clinic at your pre-arranged time. They have a really important job today, too. They’ll need to keep their phone on and be able to come to the clinic within a 20-30 minute timeframe.

We’ll meet with you to go over everything again, answer any last minute questions, and re-confirm your caregiver details. Depending on how the case before yours is progressing, you may have a brief wait in the waiting room. Then you’ll make your way to the pre-op room where you’ll be given a combo of prescribed medications. These include medications that help you relax—the day of your surgery is super exciting, but it’s also very common and normal to feel anxious or nervous. We’re here to do everything we can to help put you at ease.

The anesthesiologist will assess you and your surgeon will come see you in order to make any necessary markings to map out the surgical approach. Once the operating room is ready, you’ll be brought in and gently put to sleep. Depending on the kind of facelift you’re having, you may be in the OR for as long as 4 hours.

After Your Facelift is Complete

The anesthetist will carefully wake you up and will join you in the recovery room along with your nurses. They’ll continue to monitor you and take care of you. This is also when we’ll give your caregiver a call and let them know an estimated pickup time (and the recovery room nurse will later confirm with them again when she determines that you’re ready to be discharged).

We’ll give you and your caregiver a document with very specific care instructions. You’ll also be provided with the emergency number of the on-call plastic surgeon for that day just in case anything comes up during off hours. This packet will also include a list of your mandatory post-op appointments that help us ensure everything is healing properly. Your caregiver will be bringing you back to us the next day and the post-op nurse will make sure any swelling or bruising is normal. If there are any concerns, your surgeon will be alerted immediately.

We love seeing your progress as you return for your time sensitive follow up appointments, which are super important. It helps us make sure everything is healing beautifully and that you’ve got the right guidance for the safest recovery possible.

Recovery After Your Facelift

You’ll be looking at about a week off of work and regular activities. Some people prefer a little more time away from work (10 days to two weeks) in the event of swelling or bruising. The first phase of your recovery, you have a very crucial job: REST. Resting helps you heal well. Healing well leads to the best possible result. It’s really that simple. So enjoy binge watching some addictive TV or getting lost in a good book.

Gentle exercise will be okay after about two weeks. It will be approximately a month before you can tackle any strenuous exercise, like aerobics or weight lifting—talk to us about your plans and we can give you more specific guidance.

You can expect some swelling, bruising and discomfort as you recover. After around 10 days most patients report they can easily conceal most remaining bruising with makeup, if needed.

Whew. That’s a lot of info!

It sure is! It’s a big process, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. We’re here to help every step along the way. If you’re ready to get started, fill out the book a free consultation form on this page, or get in touch.

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Did we answer all your questions? Our goal is to ensure you have the best information possible to make your decision. If you still have questions, we’re here to help.

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