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What is a Facelift?

A facelift by definition is a procedure, which tightens the lower face and neck. It involves incisions in front of and/or behind the ear. Facelift surgery is one of the best-known cosmetic facial procedures and is the absolute gold standard for lower face and neck rejuvenation. Facelift surgery was developed over a century ago and has undergone many changes and refinements.

Facelift, technically known as Rhytidectomy (from ancient Greek (rhytis) “wrinkle” + (ektome) “excision”, removal of wrinkles), is a procedure used to give a more youthful facial appearance. Surgery usually involves the removal of excess facial skin, with or without the tightening of underlying tissues, of the face and neck.

Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)

Facelift surgery was developed over a century ago and has undergone many changes and refinements. The facelift of the last generation is not the same as today’s techniques. A generation ago, a facelift required a hospital stay of 3-4 days, whereas today most are performed as an outpatient and patients are home the same day.

Another difference in today’s facelift patient is the age. In the past, patients waited until their sixth decade and underwent a big operation with an extended recovery. Today’s patients do not wait until they look old to have cosmetic surgery. They want to stay younger looking all their life. With smaller cosmetic procedures along the way, they avoid ever looking aged.

Before and After of Patient #244

Types of Facelifts

Many different types of facelift exist. The differences are mostly the type of incision, the invasiveness and the area of the face that is treated. Dr Joseph will determine the procedure with the best outcome for every patient. The patient’s health, age, severity of sagging or wrinkled skin, areas requiring improvement and the recovery time are some of the many factors considered in choosing the type of facelift.

The Mini-Lift

Mini-lift (S-Lift) is a conservative procedure and often marketed as “Weekend Lift”, “Quick Lift”, “Lifestyle Lift”, “S Lift”, etc. These conservative facelifts are certainly effective, but usually for younger patients with minor aging. They may also be suitable for an older patient not healthy enough for a larger procedure. Not everyone needs or is ready for a full facelift, and this is a good way of postponing one. The S-Lift is a minimally invasive technique involving only a small incision in front of and inside the ear. Bruising is minimal and you can resume most normal activities in approximately 7-10 days.

The Traditional Facelift

For the medium and larger size facelifts the incision is made in front of and behind the ear. The incision is concealed in the sideburn hair area, inside the ear and behind the ear lobe. The muscle layers are tightened beneath the skin surface. The skin is then repositioned and sutured to a new position producing an overall more youthful appearance. In reality, very little of the actual facelift incision is visible to others. Generally, larger procedures or multiple procedures require two weeks of recovery. The recovery is 10-14 days.

Facial Rejuvenation and Recovery

All cosmetic surgery is elective so no patient really needs it. Some patients desire to take baby steps and have only a single procedure at a time. For instance, they may do their eyelids this year, a facelift next year, etc. On the other hand other patients prefer to get as much rejuvenation as possible from a single surgery and recovery.

If a patient can only take one week off of work, then conservative procedures must be considered. We generally tell our patients that you can get out of the house in one week and back into society in two weeks. Swelling and bruising are very individual and no two people heal alike. Some patients can get back to work in a shorter time and some will take longer.

How Long will my Facelift Last?

In some respects facelift surgery will last forever. If a 50-year-old patient had a facelift and his or her twin did not, the patient will pretty much always look younger.

Although we can turn back the clock, we can’t stop it, so we all continue to age. As we age, the tightened tissues will slowly begin to sag with time. In rare cases some patients with elastic skin or weight gain may need a touch up procedure in 1-2 years. Other patients with healthy skin may have cosmetic results that last 20 years or longer. No one can predict how long a cosmetic procedure will last and many variables are involved including genetics, and lifestyle.

The Facelift Procedure

First of all, as mentioned earlier, facelift surgery is simpler than it was a generation ago. As for the anesthesia, patients are relieved to know that their facelifts can be performed with light IV anesthesia. Dr. Joseph goes to great lengths to use the smallest incision available and to make incisions that will be hidden and look natural. Our goal is to provide a natural appearance and avoid an “operated look”.

Facelift & Mini-lift Before & After Photographs

Select a patient below to view more detailed pictures and information about the facelift & mini-lift procedures performed by Dr. Joseph.