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Facelift surgery helps eliminate wrinkles and sagging skin that results from age, sun exposure, and the ongoing use of facial muscles. This procedure is often coupled with other facial surgeries to improve appearance, such as brow lift, eyelid surgery and liposuction. Good candidates for facelifts are in good health, have skin that retains some measure of elasticity, and are not planning to lose any substantial amounts of weight after the surgery. A face and neck lift can be done in combination with other facial plastic surgery rejuvenation procedures to create a healthy, youthful look.
Facelifts are most frequently performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia with sedation. The surgeon makes incisions in front of each ear, around the earlobes, behind the ears, and ending at the scalp on both sides of the head. The skin is gently removed from the underlying tissue and excess skin is removed. If needed, fat deposits beneath the neck and chin may be removed using liposuction. The surgeon tightens loose muscles and soft tissue around the face and closes the incisions with small sutures. The surgery generally takes about 3 - 4 hours.
Following the surgery, the head is tightly bandaged to reduce swelling. Stitches are removed about one week after surgery and a support dressing continues to be used for the next week. Swelling, bruising and numbness are normal and will subside over time. It is important to sleep with the head elevated during the recovery period. Neck tightness and brief limited range of motion is common, but pain is mild to moderate. Some patients will describe a tight sensation when swallowing. Most patients need narcotic pain medications for a few days after surgery. It is best to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for two weeks after surgery, and most patients take off two weeks from work or activity postoperatively.
Healing is gradual after a facelift. Patients must avoid bending and heavy lifting for the first 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. It takes a full 6 months until all the benefits of the surgery can be seen.