Ageing in the female face is one of the defining aspects of a woman’s appearance. A facelift allows you to combat some of the most obvious aspects of ageing and restore a more youthful, healthy appearance. Anatomical studies show that deep structures in the face like ligaments and muscle are all affected by ageing. As we age they become less elastic and begin to stretch and tending to make women look older.
Face lift surgery involves lifting the tissues of the mid and lower part of the face, as well as tightening and lifting skin and underlying muscle around the mid and upper neck. Many people feel that they “know” what a person who has a facelift looks like. In fact they are usually aware of patients who have had bad facelifts. The appearance of excessively tightened skin, eyes that appear under tension and a generally stretched appearance are often symptoms of excessive reshaping and skin removal at surgery. A conservative approach will avoid these issues and give you the best appearance possible.
The outcome from any facial plastic surgery is highly dependant on the skill of your surgeon. The structures being lifted, moved an reshaped are all interconnected and will all effect your final appearance.
There are a number of different types of facelift. Broadly, most face lifts fall into two categories. A Traditional “Full” facelift involves carefully lifting and stitching into place a complex series of muscles, ligaments and other structures in the face. Once the “lift” is complete, excess skin is trimmed (usually behind the ears and at the hairline).
A full facelift is probably the most effective way to reduce perceived ageing of the face, however patients need to understand the implications of this procedure. A full facelift is a very long procedure, often taking many hours. During the procedure your surgeon will systematically move and stitch into place many anatomical structures that support the face. Healing time can be extended and if you are interested in this procedure you need to understand that at least a few weeks of very “post surgery” appearance can be expected. In return you will receive a radically younger, more toned facial appearance.
Another type of facelift is the minimal invasive facelift – it works a little differently. During a minimal access lift the primary effect is achieved by “pulling” a series of tough ligament structures up from just behind the ear. The lift is supported by a “thread” that is put into place through a series of small incisions behind the ear. A Minimal access lift can not achieve the systematic lifting of all major structures in the face like a conventional facelift, but in return it is a less invasive procedure. Minimal access lifts are often conducted in combination with brow lifts, injectable fillers and eyelid surgery. Generally healing time is much shorter than a full facelift.
There is usually some scarring even from a highly successful face lift but the location of the scarring is such that is rarely noticeable, even without make up. Depending on the type of facelift performed it may be possible to make incisions so fine that hairline scars actually continue to have hair growing out through the scar. When this occurs the scar is very effectively concealed.
If the neck requires tightening a small incision is made just behind the chin. The loose ligaments, muscle and fascia are all tightened and restored. In some cases further sculpting of the neck fat may be performed. Face lift surgery may be combined with surgery of the eye lid (blepharoplasty) and browlift if desired.
A full facelift may be performed as a day procedure, but for most patients an overnight stay in hospital is preferred. Staying in hospital overnight means that you will have all the support you need during the important immediate post surgical period. A minimally invasive lift can often be done as a day procedure or with an overnight stay at a private hospital. Everyone is different, and the need for an overnight stay will depend on the exact combination of procedures you are having, your general health and the level of support you have at home.
You will find some dressings on your face after surgery. The dressings are removed usually removed a day or so after surgery, and you can shower and shampoo your hair once they are off. Patients are advised to sleep with their head and shoulders elevated for the first week after surgery. Patients usually experience some swelling and bruising after a face lift. After two or three weeks the majority of swelling will have disappeared. After a MACS lift you will be superficially healed after about 2-3 weeks. A few weeks later swelling will have settled and you will be most of the way to your final appearance.
Full recovery from the surgery takes three to four weeks, and we strongly recommend a gentle return to full activity. After a facelift you will be aware of a significant change in your appearance, however your friends and associates may not be quite so perceptive. A full facelift will also take about 2-3 weeks to superficially heal, but it may take an extra 3 – 4 weeks for swelling and bruising to subside. It may take up to a year for all swelling to fade and for your new appearance to settle.
It is very common for people to receive comments such as “you look fresh!” and “you look different somehow!” after receiving a successful facelift.