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Facelift: Facial lift, rhytidectomy




What is it?


A facelift is a cosmetic procedure that is designed to improve the face and neck of a man or woman. Individuals often seek a facelift procedure when they have experienced sagging in the midface region, deep creases in the eyelid area, deep creases along the nose or corners of a mouth, loss of muscle tone or loss of skin or fatty deposits under the chin and jaw.




The Operation


The first step of this operation is to administer the appropriate type and amount of anesthesia to the patient. The physician will make the most appropriate recommendation for the patient. While a facelift can be performed independently, it can also be combined with multiple other cosmetic procedures, as the recovery time is often the same with multiple procedures as one.


Once the patient is in the operating room, the surgeon will start with the incision. There are multiple incision sites and types for a facelift procedure. The type of incision will be determined by the overall effect that the patient is hoping to achieve.


The traditional incision is made at the hairline from the temples, behind the ears and ending in the lower scalp region. Once the incision has been made, the fat can be re-sculpted. The skin is moved back, trimmed and then sewn with sutures closed tightly.


The limited incision is used as a shorter incision and is commonly used for individuals who are not seeking such a dramatic outcome. The skin is pulled back along the incision made along the temple and upper ear, trimmed and sewn shut.


For individuals who are more focused on the neck area and the area underneath the chin, a neck lift may be more appropriate. Here the skin is pulled tightly around the chin and neck and sewn shut.




Alternatives to Surgery


As this is a cosmetic procedure, it is not considered to be medically necessary. So, individuals can elect to live with their current facial image and structure. If they do decide to go through with a cosmetic procedure, they may decide to pursue the newer form of facelift called the thread lift. This procedure is less invasive and is outpatient, with a much shorter recovery time.




Before the Operation


The surgeon may require a full medical examination and lab work prior to surgery to ensure that the patient is in good health. Also, instructions will be provided regarding medications, procedures and when to stop eating and drinking prior to the surgery. It is important to adhere closely to all instructions for the best possible outcome from the procedure.




After the Operation- In the Hospital


It is during the recovery time in the hospital that the patient will be recovering from anesthesia and preparing to go home. Each medical facility and physician will have different requirements for allowing the patient to leave the facility after surgery.




After the Operation- At Home


The recovery for a facelift operation will vary among each patient, and can range from weeks to months. While much of the pain and initial swelling will disappear within a few weeks, it can take months and even up to a full year to experience the full results and benefits of the surgery. The surgeon will include specific instructions in the recovery package sent home with the patient, including how to manage the incision site, when to resume activity and what to observe for in terms of complications. There is generally a follow up appointment and possibly several that will also be required to ensure that the outcome and progress are in alignment with the original surgical expectations. It is important to follow all of the instructions for a safe and speedy recovery.




Possible Complications


While not all patients will experience complications, it is important to understand the risks fully. The most common complications can include:


  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Hair loss around the incision site that is permanent
  • Poor wound healing
  • Skin loss around the incision site
  • Numbness around the incision site
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Long term pain and/or intense pain following the surgery
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Skin swelling
  • Skin discoloration
  • Additional surgeries needed





General Advice


It is important to become fully educated about both the risks and rewards of this cosmetic procedure. When selecting a surgeon, it is advised to meet with several so that you can select the best personal and professional match for your needs and goals.




Estimated Cost for Facelift Surgery



Country Cost
USA $8,000-15,000
Brazil $7,500
Costa Rica $3,000-5,000
South Africa $2,500-3,000
Thailand $2,000-4,000

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