Facelift and Neck Lift
As time passes, our faces and necks age gradually but perceptibly. Sagging cheeks and jowls, “turkey neck,” and wrinkles can cause us to look much older than we feel. These physical changes occur as a result of heredity, gravity, sun exposure, and nutrition, and affect all of the layers of tissue that affect our appearance. Fortunately, dedicated surgeons have developed safe and reliable procedures that can subtly or dramatically improve the undesirable changes from aging. Patients can choose from many options to customize their experience and suit their needs.
The purpose of a face and neck lift is to improve appearance by repositioning the soft tissues of the face and neck to a more youthful position. This type of surgery is usually considered when nonsurgical methods (such as facial fillers and Botox® injections) are no longer satisfactory. To achieve a consistent and natural look, most surgeons will lift the cheeks, jowls, and neck simultaneously, while working with the muscle, fat, and skin through incisions hidden around the ear and under the chin. The surgery is typically performed with twilight sedation or general anesthesia at a surgery center or hospital. Afterward, a patient should notice a pleasing improvement in cheekbone height, jaw line, jowls, and neck. The end result is a natural look of youth and vitality.
Additional procedures may be offered to address specific, individual issues. For example, when volume has been lost from the face, microfat grafting may be offered, taking fat from elsewhere in the body and moving it to the face to restore youthful plumpness. If sun damage is extensive, resurfacing of the superficial skin with lasers, chemical peels, or other technology may be suggested to improve skin texture, wrinkles, and color. Neck liposuction, facial implants, and limited face lifts to address isolated sagging in younger people are other options that may be recommended by your doctor. Other procedures, including eyelid surgery and forehead lift, address adjacent areas of the face and may also be discussed with your doctor. Often, these procedures can be performed at the same time as face and neck lift.
Most patients will have fairly obvious swelling and bruising for the first week or two, but pain is usually mild and easily controlled with medication. Ice packs are recommended for the first day or two, and if a drain is placed during surgery, it may be removed on the first day. Dressings may be worn for the first several days and skin sutures are removed after about one week. Other than feeling tired from the anesthetic, most people feel well rapidly. Walking and other light exercise can be performed almost immediately, but more strenuous exercise should be delayed until healing has progressed. For most people, it will be one to two weeks before they are ready to resume work and social engagements.
Risks and Complications
Face and neck lifting is very successful surgery with only infrequent complications. Bleeding and infection, which are potential risks with any surgical procedure, are very uncommon. Asymmetry, persistence of numbness, and visibility of scars are unusual. Rarely, injury can occur to a nerve that controls facial movement. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you are on blood thinners as their use may put you at increased risk for bleeding complications.
Your surgeon cannot control all the variables that may impact your final result. The goal is always to improve a patient’s condition but no guarantees or promises can be made for a successful outcome in any surgical procedure. There is always a chance you will not be satisfied with your results and/or that you will need additional treatment. As with any medical decision, there may be other inherent risks or alternatives that should be discussed with your surgeon.