Everything You Want to Know About Facelifts

Per 2012 reports, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery lists facelifts as the second most popular facial plastic surgery. According to the AAFPRS, more than 34,800 facelifts were performed by their member surgeons during the year.

With increasing interest in cosmetic enhancements to the face, it’s not surprising to hear people asking questions about a facelift both online and in plastic surgeons’ offices. Here are some of the more common questions answered.

What Happens During a Facelift?

The objective of a facelift is to lift the skin and tissue on the lower face and upper neck to a more natural position. This helps add definition to your jawline and chin and improves the lower portion of the cheeks.

In a traditional facelift, the incision begins in the hairline at the temples, follows in front of the ears, then ends in the lower scalp behind the ears. All incisions are placed in natural creases or the hairline to hide scars. Once the incisions are made, the skin and connective tissue are lifted. This allows the surgeon to elevate the tissue and tighten muscle to create a more youthful position. Excess skin is removed, and the incisions are sutured. It takes about two hours to complete this type of facelift.

There is also a mini-lift that is beneficial to men and women who are just starting to see the signs of aging. With a mini-lift, the incisions and corrective work are minimized. This allows for faster healing, but doesn’t address the same problems that a traditional facelift addresses or produce as dramatic of a result.

What is The Timeline for Recovery?

People often worry about pain following a facelift, but realistically pain is minimal. There is discomfort from the pressure bandages required following the surgery. These pressure bandages are extremely tight, but their job is to reduce swelling so they’re important. If the face does swell, the skin may feel tight or heavy, and this is normal and will alleviate as the swelling goes down. After a day, the pressure bandages are taken off and looser bandages are put in place. On the third day following the surgery, all bandages can come off. Stitches are taken out after a week.

For the first two weeks, your face may have some bruising. By the end of the first week, you can resume light activities. Strenuous activities cannot be resumed until three weeks pass.

What are the Potential Risks?

When facelift incisions are made within the hairline, the hair follicles in that area may experience shock. This can cause temporary hair loss along the incision. Shock loss is rarely permanent, so expect to see the hair return after three months. The use of a product like Minoxidil can help speed hair growth.

For the first 24 hours following a facelift , most facial plastic surgeons require you to stay under the watchful eye of a registered nurse. After that, you recover at home. You must monitor your own healing. If your incisions become red and tender, call your surgeon to make sure they are not infected.

One of the other risks involves a reaction to the anesthesia. If you’ve had other surgeries and never had a problem, it’s not likely that you need to worry. If you have had a prior reaction to anesthesia, you must inform your facial plastic surgeon during the consultation.

What is the Estimated Cost of a Facelift?

The AAFPRS lists the 2012 average surgeon/physician fee for a facelift as $7,453. This is the average surgeon’s fee, so the actual cost is typically higher to reflect additional costs like the facility fee and anesthesia fee.

How Does Liquid Facelift Compare With a Traditional Facelift?

More men and women are turning to Botox Cosmetic and fillers as a way to eliminate some signs of aging without undergoing a surgery. It is important to know that Botox injections only last a few months. To maintain a younger appearance with Botox, you need to get injections every three to five months. Over time, the cost adds up.

Dermal fillers are used to add volume to areas of the face. The 2012 average AAFPRS surgeon’s fee for hyaluronic acid fillers was just under $600. With Juvederm and Restylane, the average life span is a year or less. Radiesse, a hydroxylapatite filler, lasts up to two years, but a touch-up after four weeks is needed. The 2012 surgeon’s fee for hydroxylapatite fillers is more than $750.

The bottom line is that while most facelifts provide lasting benefits for an average of 10 years, most fillers and Botox need replenishing one or more times a year. At the end of 10 years, you are likely to spend more on a liquid facelift than you would on a traditional facelift.

Watch the AAFPRS’s facelift video to see a detailed look at a facelift. This gives you a good starting point for determining if a facelift is right for you. Next, talk to Dr. Sheldon Kabaker to discuss the actual cost and benefits to a facelift. Reach the board certified Oakland facial plastic surgeon by calling (415) 379-9015.

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