As we age, significant changes in the skin and facial tissues start to emerge. Wrinkles begin to appear relatively early on, followed by sagging skin and facial volume loss. These changes are completely normal, but that doesn’t mean we have to helplessly watch our faces become aged and tired. The facelift, or rhytidectomy, is one of the most powerful and well-known plastic surgeries available, since it is designed to dramatically rejuvenate the facial tissues, lifting and tightening the muscles and skin for a rested, youthful appearance. Dr. Steinbrech offers this procedure to New York patients who want to turn back the clock and gain long-lasting facial rejuvenation.
What is a Facelift?
The facelift is a cosmetic surgery that is used to restore the position of the facial tissues and create a more youthful appearance. Gravity, decreased collagen and elastin levels, and the effects of sun damage gradually create skin laxity and sagging muscle tissue. During a facelift procedure, the underlying musculature of the face is tightened and lifted, fat is redistributed for better contour, and excess skin is trimmed and tightened to smooth out wrinkles and resolve sagging. A traditional facelift addresses the lower half of the face and the neck area, but the procedure is customizable and can be combined with other plastic surgeries to address the forehead and eye areas.
Why Patients Choose a Facelift
As one of the most invasive plastic surgeries available, most people do not seek a facelift until they have experienced significant facial sagging and wrinkling. Although there are many procedures that rejuvenate sagging skin and wrinkles, the facelift is the most effective and long-lasting. After the surgery and recovery process are complete, patients can expect to look 5-10 years younger on average.
Patients who choose a facelift can address a range of concerns, including:
- Deep facial wrinkles, creases, and folds
- Loose, sagging skin and fat
- Midface sagging and jowling at the jawline
Most patient who choose a facelift are extremely happy with their results, and find that they feel renewed confidence and self-esteem. They may feel more social and energetic, and some patients find that comprehensive facial rejuvenation helps them to stay competitive at work. The results of a rhytidectomy are long-lasting, and patients can expect to look rejuvenated and refreshed for years, slowing down the aging process significantly.
Best Candidates for a Facelift
Good candidates for a facelift are men and women who would like to lift and tighten sagging tissues in the lower face, midface, and neck area. Patients should have moderate to severe sagging and skin folds, but must have some amount of skin elasticity remaining in order to see good results. The best candidates are people who understand the capabilities and limitations of the procedure, and maintain realistic expectations.
Because rhytidectomy is an in-depth surgery, patients must be in general good health to be considered from the surgery. Patients with medical conditions may need to wait until these have been controlled to schedule a facelift surgery. Some medications can also pose a safety risk during the surgery and recovery, such as blood thinners. Men and women who are interested in facelift surgery should be non-smokers, or willing to quit well ahead of the surgery. Smoking increases the risk for complications and compromises healing, which can result in infection or poor results.
Only a plastic surgeon can make a decision about individual candidacy. Safety is Dr. Steinbrech’s number one priority, and if facelift is not appropriate in a patient’s situation, the doctor may suggest a less invasive option during the consultation.
Your Facelift Consultation
Rhytidectomy is a customized procedure that has strict candidacy requirements, which makes the pre-facelift consultation absolutely crucial to the success of the procedure.
During the consultation at Dr. Steinbrech’s offices in New York, patients will sit down with the doctor and discuss their goals for the surgery. Dr. Steinbrech will examine the progress of aging and determine whether or not facelift is the best method for reaching those goals. If not, the doctor may suggest alternatives. He may also recommend procedures that would complement the results of a facelift for comprehensive anti-aging.
The consultation is also when Dr. Steinbrech evaluates candidacy for the procedure. He will go over the patient’s medical records and consultations to ensure the patient is healthy enough for elective surgery. Patients are encouraged to ask questions, and will work closely with Dr. Steinbrech to come up with a custom treatment plan.
Rhytidectomy Surgery in New York
Most facelift procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis. Patients are given either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with IV sedation before the surgery begins. This will depend on the doctor’s recommendation, the patient’s preference, and the type of procedure that will be performed.
A full, traditional facelift begins with incisions that begin at the temples and travel down and around the ear to the hairline. Through the incisions, Dr. Steinbrech sculpts and repositions facial fat, tightens and lifts the muscles and the deeper tissues of the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system), and trims and re-drapes skin for a more youthful contour. Sometimes, an additional incision under the chin is needed to access the tissues of the lower face and neck. Some patients choose to have a more extensive neck lift during their procedure.
A limited incision facelift uses many of the same techniques as a traditional facelift, but the area and scope is limited. A shorter incision is made, and the area around the eyes and mouth is rejuvenated.
Recovering from Facelift Surgery
Once patients have been cleared by staff, they can be driven home by a friend or family member. Drains may be put in place along with the dressings. These drains will be removed after 24 hours. For the first few days, patients should focus on rest and healing. Swelling, bruising, numbness, and tightness are all common side effects during the initial recovery period. Recovery instructions will be provided, and patients need to follow these as closely as possible to prevent complications and promote optimal healing. Prescribed medications can help control discomfort during the initial recovery period.
Staples or sutures are taken out in about a week, and most patients return to work in about 3 weeks. Facial unevenness and distortion, as well as tightness, typically resolve within 6 weeks. Numbness may persist for several months.
After the first few days, patients can walk around, but should avoid strenuous activity for several weeks. Dr. Steinbrech will give instructions on when normal activities, including bending, lifting, and exercise, are permitted again.
The facelift is an in-depth surgery that does pose some risks, including bleeding, infection, anesthesia complications, poor healing, persistent numbness, and unfavorable scarring. However, by choosing an expert, board-certified plastic surgeon to perform the surgery, you can reduce these risks significantly. Patients need to do their part in reducing risk. Be honest about any health conditions and medications, and follow all your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. This will reduce complication risks and improve the overall results.
While there are some great non-surgical or minimally-invasive treatments that can improve many of the concerns a facelift addresses, no non-surgical treatment exists that can provide the dramatic results of a facelift. The facelift is one of the most comprehensive cosmetic surgeries available, and its results are unparalleled.
There is no “right” age for a facelift, since each patient ages at a different rate. Most patients are in their late forties to early sixties, as this tends to be when significant aging is apparent but some skin elasticity is still present. Because candidacy is such an individual issue, however, it is important to get an expert’s opinion by attending a consultation. This will help you determine whether or not it is the right time for you to undergo facelift surgery.
Swelling will occur after the surgery as the body begins to heal. This can produce sensations of tightness. However, once the tissues have healed, your face should not look or feel pulled and tight. The intention of the procedure is to produce a very natural appearance, not an artificially tight facial aesthetic. Dr. Steinbrech works very hard to make sure patients experience natural-looking rejuvenation.
Facelift surgery is extremely long-lasting, and once patients get past the recovery process, they can enjoy the results for years to come. Most people find that they look at least several years younger after the surgery, and will continue to look rejuvenated for up to ten years or more.
Unfortunately, nothing can stop the march of time. Aging does not stop after a facelift, but it is slowed considerably. Patients can maintain their results and preserve a youthful look by making smart lifestyle choices and leveraging non-invasive treatments.
Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and protecting the skin from the sun are all ways patients can keep the results of a facelift looking good for longer. Injectable treatments or laser and radiofrequency treatments can help to maintain the results and further hold off aging.
The skin, especially that around the incisions, is very susceptible to the sun’s powerful rays after surgery. It is important to protect your skin with sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and wear protective accessories like hats and sunglasses during the first several months. Sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) around the incisions.
All surgery produces some scarring, and a traditional facelift requires long incisions that do leave scars around the ears. However, these incisions are hidden as much as possible in discreet areas, and patients can use several different techniques to help the scars fade. Most patients find that the scarring is not very noticeable, especially after several months. Before-and-after photos of facelift patients can help you to get an idea of what to expect from the incision sites.
A facelift addresses the underlying tissues of the face, including fat and muscles, and tightens sagging skin. This can help to fix premature aging caused by excessive sun damage. However, it cannot address textural or complexion problems like dull skin or brown spots that can be caused by sun damage. Other procedures may be needed after a facelift to address these problems.
Both men and women routinely undergo facelift surgery. There are only minor differences, as the goal for the surgeries is the same. Incision placement, degree of correction, and overall aesthetic goals are often slightly different, but all of these factors will be discussed during the planning phase of the procedure.
Many patients choose to combine a facelift with other anti-aging surgeries to achieve better results. Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), brow lift, or both, are very popular combination procedures. Some patients also choose to have a facelift and later use laser resurfacing or injectables to complete the look. Your doctor will advise you on which procedures can be combined, and which would need to be performed at a later date.
Get a Whole New Outlook with Facelift Surgery
Dr. Douglas Steinbrech is board-certified plastic surgeon who has been selected as one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons by the Consumers’ Research Council of America. He is also one of NYC’s top 10 plastic surgeons, and has extensive experience performing facelift surgery on both men and women. To get a whole new outlook with facelift surgery, call Dr. Steinbrech’s New York offices at (347) 983-9560 to schedule you consultation.