When to Consider A Facelift
Board certified plastic surgeon Jonathan Lee, MD, FRCSC performs facelift surgery to restore a refreshed and youthful appearance to the face without leaving an operated-on look. As we age, the skin and underlying tissues lose volume and elasticity. This is often most noticeable in the face where aging results in deep folds, creases, and shadows. Lower down in the face, the development of hanging jowls along the jawline and a sagging neck can further make one look older than they feel.
In the early stages of facial aging, a “liquid facelift” can be performed. This involves using injectable fillers and has the benefit of very little to no down-time. With age, the lower third of the face becomes increasingly more difficult to treat with fillers. It is here where a surgical facelift may be a more suitable option with longer lasting results.
Consider a facelift when you experience the following:
Hollowing and volume loss of the cheeks
Sagging skin along the jawline, resulting in jowls
Deep creases that extend from the nose to the corner of the mouth (Nasolabial folds)
Double chin and thickness towards the bottom of the face
Both healthy men and women in their 40s through 70s are candidates
Will it also treat my neck?
The areas that a facelift most effectively treats are the jowls, jawline, nasolabial folds, and cheeks. It does not address the neck area. A more comprehensive approach to facial rejuvenation also frequently includes a neck lift and fat grafting to areas of the face that have lost volume.
Before The Surgery
During your initial consultation, Dr. Lee will perform a thorough evaluation of your face and neck. He will determine if you are a good candidate for a facelift and make a recommendation tailored to your specific goals. This may include recommendations of other possible surgical or non-surgical combined treatments which can further enhance your result. Pre-treatment photos will be taken and any potential risks and complications will also be discussed.
Dr. lee always encourages his patients to bring in photos of how they looked when they were younger. This often helps in the discussion and visualization of the target goals.
After The Surgery
A facelift will take between 2 and 6 hours to complete, depending on if there are any additional combined procedures.
Patients may experience mild pain along the face and neck. Dr. Lee will prescribe you a pain reliever. After the first week, Tylenol is usually sufficient for any discomfort.
Immediately after surgery you will have swelling and bruising. Your face and neck will also feel tight and numb. This is normal and it will improve. The majority of the bruising and swelling resolves over several weeks but residual swelling and numbness may continue for several months following the surgery. A nighttime face and neck compression garment can be used to speed the process.
For the first two weeks following the operation, the patient should have their head elevated when sleeping and avoid tilting their head down or moving it from side-to-side.
Most patients will take off 2-3 weeks from work and Dr. Lee recommends allowing at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to any major social event.
Dr. Lee will typically see you within one week after the surgery to remove any stitches. At this time, he will also provide you with detailed scar care instructions. The next visits will be after 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 1 year.
- The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia, but occasionally local anesthesia with sedation is utilized.
- The incision begins in the hairline and extends into the creases immediately in front, around and behind the ear. Dr. Lee uses his expertise to ensure that all incision are planned such that the scars are as inconspicuous as possible.
- The skin layer is next separated from the underlying tissue layer known as the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system). Both layers are lifted up, repositioned, and gently tightened to create an improved natural and youthful contour. Any excess skin and fat is trimmed and the incisions are all closed with tiny stitches.
- Also known as a “Short Scar” facelift which is a less involved version of the traditional approach
- This technique is best used for very early signs of mid-face aging.
- Mini facelift can frequently be performed through a smaller incision but does not address the neck.
- Typically, most patients are in their 40s to early 50s and want to improve the appearance of their lower face, reducing jowls.
Long Term Results
It is important to note that facelift surgery creates lasting natural and elegant results but it does not stop the aging process. On average, facelift results can be expected to last 10-15 years. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and skin care regimen in addition to touch-up procedures with facial fillers and BOTOX®/Dysport® injections are strongly recommended to help patients get the most longevity out of their surgery results.
Combing Procedures & Treatments
Dr. Lee will often combine facelift surgery with other surgical or non-surgical procedures in order to provide you with a more harmonious and comprehensive result. These may include:
- Neck lift to improve the contour of the neck and minimize redundant sagging skin and bands
- Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) to remove excess skin and bags from the upper and/or lower eyelids
- Fat grafting to restore volume in the face, providing a more youthful contour by filling in areas of age-related volume loss
- Dermal fillers are occasionally used to further enhance the results of surgery in areas that may not be suitable for fat grafting. They can also extend the benefits of your facelift even longer.
- BOTOX® and Dysport® (neuromodulators) injections to improve and relax fine lines to the forehead and around the eyes
- A proper skin care regimen is always recommended both before and after the surgery to revitalize skin texture, provide glow, and even out pigmentation, further adding to the result of the surgery.
Dr. Jonathan Lee (MD, FRCSC) is an experienced, Canadian and New York fellowship-trained Plastic Surgeon based in Calgary. Well-established, he is board certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and specializes in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.