Jeffrey Kenkel, M.D. Answers Questions On: Face Lift
Who is a good candidate for a face lift?
Patients who are in good health and weight stable are generally good candidates for a facelift.
Beyond that, you’re a good candidate if you want to look refreshed, energized, and similar to how you appeared 10 to 15 years ago. Although you may wonder if you’re too young or too old for face lift surgery, it’s important to remember that we all age at different rates and in different ways. For example, lifestyle habits and genetics may make one person a good candidate for a face lift in their 40s, while another person may postpone surgery until their 50s or later.
How is a face lift performed?
Face lift surgery is customized to meet your specific needs, but it will typically begin with incisions around your ears and into the hairline. In some cases, an incision will be made under the chin.
Once I’ve made the incisions, I perform a high-SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) procedure, a more advanced version of the general SMAS face lift technique, to lift and rejuvenate the face. Depending on your specifications, I may reshape, add, or remove fat.
I’ll adjust and reposition the tissue overlying the muscles before re-draping the skin and trimming away any excess, ensuring it doesn’t appear overly tight. I’ll close the incisions with sutures and add a small drainage tube to prevent excessive fluid buildup. By keeping tension on the underlying tissues instead of on the skin, I create long-lasting, natural-looking surgical results without excessive scarring.
Patients who undergo this procedure are given intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia.
How long does it take?
Four to five hours, depending on the extent of the procedure.
What are the side effects? What about the potential risks?
Potential side effects include:
- Mild bruising
- Numbness at the surgical site
- Tightness of neck
Like any surgery, a face lift involves certain risks, such as:
- Healing difficulties
- Unsatisfactory scarring
- Recurrent laxity of skin
What is the recovery process like?
While patient experiences vary, many report that tightness and numbness typically fade over time; pain is mild and well tolerated by most.
You can expect to progress through the following general milestones when recovering from a face lift:
- Hospital stay: One night
- Drains removed: Three to four days
- Keep upper body elevated: Seven days
- Sutures removed: Six to seven days
- Wear chin compression strap: Continuously for seven to 10 days and then for seven nights
- Limit salt intake (to minimize swelling): Four to six weeks
- Ready to go out in public: Two to three weeks
- Resume strenuous workouts: Two to three weeks
- Numbness in surgical areas fades: Three to four months
Within about two weeks, patients are typically ready to resume normal daily activities, return to work, etc. You may apply camouflage makeup at this point to cover any remaining bruising.
How long will the results last?
In general, the results of face lift surgery can last up to a decade, especially with proper follow-up care and healthy lifestyle habits. When you notice the signs of aging gradually beginning to return, you may choose to maintain your results with nonsurgical treatments, such as injectable fillers or even a revisionary procedure.