How a Facelift is Performed

If you are looking for a long-term way to gain a more youthful appearance, a face lift may be the right option for you. A face lift, medically known as a rhytidectomy, is a procedure performed under anesthesia that removes excess facial skin, with or without tightening deeper tissues. This action lifts the skin and smoothes out wrinkles, giving a fresher, younger look to your face. The exact surgery may vary between individual patients and cosmetic surgeons, since faces are all different shapes and each face has unique structure and areas of concern, but many surgeons begin face lifts in the same areas of the face. Traditionally, the surgeon will make incisions in the scalp and separate the top layer of skin from underlying tissues with a scalpel. The incisions are usually made in front of the ear, extending up into the hairline, and circle back around to behind the ear. Placing the incisions in these areas, future scars can often be hidden by hair. Some doctors may also create a small incision under the chin to aid in better cosmetic results. Once the incisions have been made and the tissues underneath have been successfully separated from the top layer of skin, the surgeon can begin to make changes to the tissues and muscles. The surgeon may first suction extra fat so that the face automatically has a slimmer-looking appearance and the doctor will have more ease of maneuvering the tissues that need to be worked with. In some cases, the surgeon will just pull the skin back, creating a tighter effect. In some patients, pinning back of deep muscles is performed in addition to tightening the skin, for a more dramatic overall effect. The surgeon will determine how to best enhance each patient's natural structures. Once the skin and, depending on the instance, the muscle, has been tightened in just the right way, the surgeon will secure it, and overlapping, excess skin will be trimmed away. Typically a drain will be left in place to collect excess fluid and prevent an accumulation of pressure on incision sites. A face lift surgery generally takes anywhere from two to four hours of time. This will depend greatly on the extent of tissue and muscle work needed to be done. Although a face lift can be a great fix for many signs of aging and contribute to a younger-looking appearance, there are some signs of aging that a face lift will not alter. Marionette folds around the mouth and nasolabial creases around the nose will likely require specific treatments to effectively address them. Maintaining a positive outlook and realistic expectations are both important to a successful outcome. Talk with your doctor about your cosmetic concerns for more information about face lifts, and to determine the best treatment plan for your individual case.

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