Facelift was the third most popular cosmetic surgical procedure among women and men in UK in 2013 according to BAAPS research.
In this blog post, consultant surgeon Mr Gerard Lambe answers the most common questions regarding facelift
Q1: How to choose the right surgeon?
Choosing the right surgeon for your facelift is important as you want the end result to be natural without the over-tightness that you can sometimes see. Many clients comment that a successful facelift should make one look well-rested and healthy, it is not realistic to think surgery will take you back 20 years in appearance. You need to be comfortable with your surgeon and feel you can communicate your questions and concerns fully. I give my mobile phone number as well as my email address to my patients so they can call, email or text me. There is no such thing as a silly question. I would rather have the patient contact me earlier, than find out something later at a post-op visit.
Read our blog post on How to choose a cosmetic surgeon
Q2: When is a facelift appropriate?
A facelift will not remove all signs of aging. If you are looking to remove wrinkles then other techniques such as laser or chemical peels can be done to improve these areas. As long as you are healthy, have no major medical problems, are realistic about results, and really want to remove some signs of aging, specifically the loss of facial fat and sagging of the face and neck then a facelift is potentially the right procedure you. Talk through your expectations and preferences with your surgeon and he will advise what can be achieved so that you can make the right decision for you.
Q3: How long does a facelift last?
A good face and/or necklift can rejuvenate the face for 7-10 years however longevity does depend on several factors including the condition of your skin, if you smoke or drink regularly and your age when you underwent surgery. The best time to undergo surgery is at a younger age so, as the signs of aging appear, you are likely to continue to look much younger than your actual age. Further surgery and/or fillers can be undertaken to optimise the effect e.g. dermal fillers can be started at 1-2 years after surgery. This, along with good skin care, no smoking, sunscreen and avoiding the sun will maximize how long the effect lasts. A well performed facelift will turn back the clock but it won’t stop it and it is normal to have a small amount of wrinkles and nasal labial folds.
Q4: What is the normal recovery period for facelift surgery?
Surgical Time: The procedure takes between 3-4 hours to perform depending on how many other additional procedures are needed e.g. fat transfer or eye surgery (Blepharoplasty)
Day 1: After surgery, you will stay in hospital overnight with a light head dressing. You will sleep elevated and take antibiotics for first 24 hours only. You will be out of bed that evening and eating clear liquids and fluids.
Day 2: You will be eating a regular diet, up and moving frequently. After the second day the dressing will be removed as will be the drains in your neck. If all is progressing is well, you can go home.
Day 5: You will return to hospital to be seen to remove eyelid sutures and half of the other stitches. Scar management and incision healing management begin with some facial massage therapy to emphasis wound healing.
Day 10: All of the stitches will be removed and you may return to work day 10-14.
Week 3-4: You will be seen again in follow-up and will resume all skin care and all activities including exercise.
Month 3: You will be seen again in follow-up and post operative photos will be taken.
Annual: You will come in annually so that your surgeon can monitor your long term healing and results.
Q5: What are the most common post-op concerns that occur after a facelift?
The most common questions relate to the occasional prolonged swelling and occasional duration of hardness in the neck area. These are easily resolved by massage therapy. The key is to allow for normal wound healing and this will take time. You will “look normal” way before you “feel normal,” because as normal wound healing occurs we go through the early phases of bruising and swelling to a hard feeling that will begin to soften at 2-3 months, especially in the neck areas. These are all very normal.
Q6: Will a facelift eliminate all of my facial wrinkles?
No. It will dramatically rejuvenate the lower part of the face, but it doesn’t remove the wrinkles around the mouth area or the eyelids. With early aging you lose facial fat and also have skin sagging later in your 40-50’s. The goal is to make you look younger and less tired, but it will not eliminate all signs of aging. If you want to eliminate wrinkles, chemical peels or lasers may be needed around the lips or the eyes.
Q7: How much time will I need before I can resume normal activity?
This is very important for a facelift. There are three phases of a facelift – patients generally seem themselves as presentable to their family at 7-10 days, presentable to their friends at 10-14 days and to the public at 3-4 weeks. Patients are generally advised that they need to take between 2-4 weeks off, as bruising and swelling are variable. By 3-4 weeks they can be back in the public eye, such as public appearances or major social events.
It is important to keep your head elevated and minimize your activity. Don’t get your heart rate above 100 for the first 10 days. It is very important not to begin exercising for at least 3-4 weeks, especially if you have had facial surgery, as an increased heart rate above 100 can cause increased swelling, bruising, and even bleeding.
Q8: How will I look after surgery and how painful will it be?
You shouldn’t have a significant amount of pain, if any at all. You may have a feeling of tightness as you will have a head dressing on. You may also have 2 drains in place, which will be removed with your dressing. If you have had eyelid surgery this may produce some discomfort. The key is to keep you head elevated and to try to relax. This will help keep your blood pressure normal.
Q9: How long will it be before my face looks normal?
By 3-4 weeks your face will definitely look very normal. However, the swelling in the face and the neck, especially the face, will take 4-6 weeks to go down. The numbness around the cheek areas will resolve in 3-4 months. You will look normal to others by 3-4 weeks. Your scars from incisions are placed in such a way that people will not notice them in 4-6 weeks. If you had eyelid surgery done at the same time, healing times lag behind the face by approx 4-6 weeks.
Here you can find our guide prices for facelift.
Read more cosmetic surgery blog posts to find answers from our consultants to the most common questions including: best place for breasts implants, breastfeeding and implants, cosmetic surgery after weight loss surgery.
About Mr Gerard Lambe
Mr Gerard Lambe is a Consultant Surgeon - Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at Ramsay Oaklands Hospital in Manchester and Lead Consultant of the Breast Reconstruction Service at the Christie Hospital Manchester.
Mr Lambe is on the GMC specialist register for Plastic Surgery.He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of London and member of the BMA. He is experienced in skin cancer, complex head and neck surgery and genital reconstruction.
Read more about Mr Lambe's qualifications, background and clinical interests.
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Ramsay Health Care UK | 28/11/2014