Facelift/Neck Lift Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- What will be expected of me to get the best results? Where and how will you perform my procedure? What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my face lift?
- How can I expect to look over time?
1. Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
The following are some common facial characteristics that make you an appropriate candidate for a facelift or neck lift:
- Sagging skin in your midface and/or jawline.
- Deep creases extending from your nose to the corners of your mouth (nasolabial folds).
- Lines extending from each corner of your mouth down your chin (marionette lines).
- Facial fat (volume) that has fallen or is displaced.
- Sagging and loss of muscle tone in the lower face, resulting in jowls.
- A double chin, resulting from loose skin and excess fatty deposits under the chin and jaw.
- Creased and sagging skin in your neck.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
2. What will be expected of me to get the best results? Where and how will you perform my procedure? What surgical technique is recommended for me?
Most facelift techniques focus on the lower facial areas, such as the jawline, jowls and cheeks. A facelift can also focus on the midface or the forehead. In some techniques, deeper facial tissues may be repositioned or tightened to restore a more youthful contour. In other techniques, removal or addition of fat or other soft-tissue fillers may be necessary to achieve the best results. Today, many different techniques exist with outcomes that can be consistently reliable, safe, and durable. Your incisions will depend on the area of the face that is targeted and the amount of change you want.
Once the incisions are made, various degrees of ‘undermining’ of your skin is performed, and the deeper layers of your face are lifted. Undermining separates the overlying skin of the face and neck from the muscles and tissues deep to the skin. This frees or loosens facial and neck skin so it can be redraped at the end of the procedure, making sure skin is smooth.
Then, the skin from the temples, cheeks, neck will be raised, and the underlying connective tissue will be lifted and repositioned, while removing excess fat and skin. If this procedure is performed in conjunction with a neck lift, we will draw the neck muscles together, stitching them together at the midline to form a strong sling of muscles that supports the entire neck and jaw. Facial implants may be added to increase cheek or chin volume.
Finally, the skin will be redraped over the new underlying structure and the incisions will be closed with stitches. A padded, supportive dressing is usually applied. Our goal is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results, and to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable as possible.
3. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
During the initial consultation, we will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your post-surgical care, including information about normal symptoms you will experience and potential signs of complications.
Immediately after your facelift or neck lift surgery
- You will be placed in a compression wrap immediately after surgery. Wear this exactly as directed and remove it only as directed for cleansing incisions or showering.
- To minimize swelling, recline rather than lie down. This will be more comfortable for you, and can reduce swelling. Always keep your head elevated and do not bend forward or over. It is best to sleep on multiple pillows to keep the head elevated.
- You will have a mild to moderate amount of pain and discomfort. This should be easily controlled with oral medications.
- The discomfort and pain should begin to decrease within forty-eight hours after surgery. Severe pain is rare; if you experience this, call our clinic immediately.
- Expect bruising and swelling. These symptoms will peak within the first thirty-six to forty-eight hours after surgery and will gradually subside over the next ten to fourteen days. To minimize swelling, sleep with your head elevated for a couple of weeks after the surgery.
- It is not unusual to have some slight drainage for the first forty-eight hours. A bulky cotton compression dressing with drains will cover your scalp and face for one to two days to help prevent blood collections under the skin.
Recovery time frame after a facelift or neck lift
Follow all postoperative instructions, including information about bandages, drains, taking an antibiotic (if prescribed), and the level of activity that is safe. We will let you know the signs of problems to watch for, such as signs of infection. Recovery time will vary by patient and in relation to the extent of your surgery.
The first week
- You may not drive for at least a week after surgery.
- A feeling of tightness in your neck is not unusual after surgery. This sensation is most pronounced in the first one to two days after surgery while the bulky dressing is in place.
- During your first postoperative visit, the bulky dressing and usually the drains will be removed. You may be placed in a supportive elastic face garment that is to be worn according to our instructions.
- Do not take any aspirin or any anti-inflammatory compounds for two weeks before and two weeks after your surgery.
- It is recommended to sleep with your head elevated forty degrees for two weeks; an additional pillow or two under your mattress may help, if necessary.
- Apply cool (not cold) compresses to your eyes. Do not apply ice or anything frozen directly on the skin. Soak soft, white washcloths or gauze squares in ice water and wring out well. Apply directly to the eyes, but not to the cheeks or neck. Do not apply any pressure. Apply cool compresses for no longer than twenty-minute intervals. Do not apply heat.
- Stay up (sitting, standing, walking around) as much as possible after you return home. This helps to decrease facial swelling.
- Avoid bending or lifting heavy things for one week. Besides aggravating swelling, this may raise your blood pressure and encourage bleeding.
- You may shower or bathe the day after surgery, but do not let the spray directly strike your face.
- Report any excessive bleeding that persists after applying pressure for fifteen to twenty minutes.
Two to six weeks
- Don’t go swimming, diving, water skiing, or participate in strenuous athletic activity for at least six weeks after surgery.
- You can expect to experience some numbness around your ear lobes, face, and neck for several weeks after surgery.
- Refrain from any strenuous exercise and from bending or lifting.
- You may begin sleeping in a modified reclining position, but do not sleep lying flat or on your stomach. If you are a side sleeper, two pillows under your head and a soft pillow under your mid-back and shoulders may offer more comfort.
- During the first four to six weeks your scars may appear red and be slightly firm and raised then the redness fades and the scar softens. It takes a minimum of one year for the scar to achieve its final appearance.
- Refrain from direct sun exposure. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. If you are outdoors, apply at least an SPF thirty at least thirty minutes before sun exposure. Your face will be highly susceptible to sunburn or the formation of irregular, darkened pigmentation.
You may ease into your regular fitness routine. However, wear protective eyewear and a hat. Discomfort or tightness and tingling in your face will resolve. Be prepared to wait at least six months for your facelift and neck lift to completely heal inside and out. It is important to be present at each follow-up appointment.
4. What are the risks and complications associated with a face lift?
Fortunately, significant complications from facelift and neck lift surgery are infrequent. These surgeries are usually performed without any major problems. Risks and potential complications of surgery is should be discussed during your consultation. The risks in most surgeries are similar. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures.
You can help minimize certain risks by following our advice and instructions, both before and after your surgery.
5. How can I expect my face to look over time?
The recovery is longer (two to four weeks) than the mini-facelift and mini-neck lift, but the results generally can last over ten years. The more extensive the procedure, the longer the recovery period will be, and the longer you will enjoy the results.