Despite even the best skincare regimens and other precautions, aging is one of those things that can’t be stopped. The exact signs of aging will vary from person to person, but everyone will eventually experience some combination of jowls, deep wrinkles, marionette lines, neck creases, and other droopy, saggy skin. These symbols of aging can be a major social or even career obstacle. Eventually, they can lead to looking in the mirror and just not recognizing yourself anymore. However, it’s not an unfixable problem. A facelift, also known as a rhytidectomy, is a comprehensive way to fix all of these problems in one surgical procedure.
Candidates for a Facelift
Good candidates for a facelift include anyone who is experiencing sagging skin on the face and jawline, deep creases around the nose and mouth, jowls, a double chin, or creases and folds on the neck. Ideally, candidates will enter the process with realistic ideas and will expect that the result will not be a new face but rather a return to their own younger face.
Benefits of a Facelift
A well-done facelift can leave you looking 10-15 years younger. By correcting deep folds and loose flesh, your skin will appear firmer, tighter, and younger. The facelift can fix deep lines and folds that more superficial treatments cannot, and by recontouring many areas of the face in one procedure, your total surgery and recovery time will be minimized.
Dr. Clevens specializes particularly in the deep plane facelift. Unlike old-fashioned facelifts, which rely heavily on skin tension, this modern technique works with the fat pads deep under the skin to recontour the face in a youthful way, leaving a natural-looking result.
Your first step is to schedule your consultation in Melbourne to discuss the procedure. During this session, you’ll go over what you view as your problem areas, and Dr. Clevens will evaluate your skin and facial structures to determine the best course of action. Pictures will be taken to provide a good baseline and to allow an objective discussion of what can be fixed.
You’ll go over the various options available to you. For example, a mini-facelift may be an option for some patients who need less work, while others may require additional fat transfers to add volume to problem spots. You can also discuss any additional procedures that you’d like to have at the same time. After deciding on what is to be done, you’ll also go over the details of aftercare and what precautions you should take before the surgery.
About the Procedure
This procedure is normally done under general anesthesia to minimize discomfort, but local anesthesia is also available when coupled with intravenous sedation. Once you’re anesthetized, Dr. Clevens will begin by making the incisions.
For most facelifts, the incisions will begin at your temples, run around to the front of the ears, and continue into the lower hairline. They will be carefully hidden in natural creases to minimize scarring as much as possible. Modified versions like the limited-incision facelift that use shorter, smaller incisions, may be an option depending on your needs. Some patients may also need additional incisions near the eyelids and upper lip.
Once the incisions are made, the skin will be pulled back so that deeper layers of the face such as muscle and fat pads can be adjusted to provide new contours. The skin will be undermined, or separated from the lower layers, as needed to permit draping once the tissue has been fully contoured. At this point, excess fat can be removed or additional fat added to provide volume.
Once the shaping is complete, the skin will be redraped over the new contours, and the incisions will be closed with clips or sutures. Dr. Clevens will place dressings and possibly drainage tubes before sending you off to the recovery room.
When you wake up in the recovery room, you will have bandages covering your face and possibly drains as well. These will be removed in a day or two and may be replaced with a compression wrap that you will wear as needed to support the healing tissues. There will initially be a large amount of swelling and bruising. This will peak 1-2 days after surgery before gradually declining over 10-14 days. A small amount of swelling may remain for a month or so. Discomfort should be moderate and should decline after about two days.
For the first week, you will not be able to drive or lift anything. You’ll need to keep your head elevated as well, which will mean sleeping in a reclined position rather than lying flat. Exercise should be avoided for a month. Be prepared for your scars to be red for the first month, after which they will fade until they reach their final lightness in about a year. The tissues themselves should be completely healed in about six months.
Possible Risks and Complications
All surgery is risky, and a facelift is no exceptions. These normal risks include bleeding, infections, and hematoma. A more specific complication is a change in facial sensation. Most patients experience tightness, numbness, or tingling during the first weeks, and the numbness can sometimes stay for months or more. Scarring is also a potential concern, particularly on darker-skinned patients who may be more prone to developing keloid scars, but in most cases the scars heal well.
Q. I dislike the sagging and deep creases in my face, but I’m only in my 40s. Am I too young for a facelift?
A. No, not necessarily. Aging affects people at different rates depending on their genetics, diet, and other factors. If you have drooping cheeks, jowls, a loose neck, or other severe problems, a facelift may be a good option for you regardless of your chronological age. A consultation with Dr. Clevens will be the best way to determine the extent of your issues and whether they can be improved with less invasive measures like fillers or fat transfer.
Q. Will it be obvious that I’ve had work done?
A. Fortunately, that stereotypical pulled-tight look associated with aging celebrities is mostly a thing of the past. Modern facelift techniques like the deep plane method performed by Dr. Clevens will preserve your unique facial characteristics and add volume where appropriate to provide a look that is youthful but still very natural.
Q. What can I do to minimize the scars from my facelift?
A. The scarring from a facelift is usually surprisingly minimal, since they will be carefully placed and typically turn out to be quite flat and narrow. Your exact scars will vary depending on factors like genetics and nutrition, but you can help minimize them by not smoking, avoiding unprotected sun exposure, and carefully avoiding infection. Scar massage and corticosteroids will also help reduce scarring.
Q. I have recently lost a large amount of weight, and it left me with loose skin on my face. Will I need a facelift to correct this?
A. Loose facial skin as a result of weight loss is common, and a facelift can certainly correct this. Often, however, the problem will resolve itself with time, particularly if you are young. Waiting for a year to see how much the skin will tighten on its own is a good idea before undergoing surgery. Depending on the extent of the loose skin, Dr. Clevens may also advise fillers or fat grafting as an option.
Q. How long will the results from my facelift last?
A. Think of it like setting back a clock. While you will continue to age after getting your facelift, you will always look 10-15 years younger than if you had not gotten the facelift. You can help to extend the results even further by avoiding smoking, unprotected sun exposure, or large changes in weight, since all of these will harm your skin elasticity and cause you to look older faster.