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Facelift, Face

The Facelift Procedure: A Step-by-Step Walkthrough of Your Surgery

Aging takes a toll on the body, often leading to a loss of skin elasticity, sagging, wrinkles, and other visible signs. Many women feel that as they age, their outward appearance doesn't appropriately reflect the youthfulness they feel inside. A facelift is a great way to address the signs of aging and restore a healthy, youthful appearance.

The goal of a facelift procedure is to remove excess skin and tighten the underlying tissue and muscle in order to reduce lines and wrinkles, sagging, and jowls. Skin and support tissues are gently lifted and repositioned in a more youthful position. A neck lift can also be included in the procedure to tighten the muscles and skin and remove excess fat in the neck.

The Facelift Surgery Process

You may be a good candidate for a facelift if you're unhappy with the visible effects of aging and feel that your face is not properly portraying your youthful spirit and energy. If you look in the mirror and no longer see the young woman you used to be, but instead see facial sagging and excess skin, then you're probably considering a facelift procedure. Here are some other indicators:

  • Excess, sagging skin in the mid-face or jowls
  • Deep creases from the nose to the mouth and/or the mouth to the chin
  • Displaced or loss of facial volume
  • Loose skin and fatty deposits creating a double chin

Surgery can be a bit daunting, but don't let doubt or fear keep you from recapturing your youth and beauty. Instead, it's best to learn all you can about the process and talk to a trusted, certified surgeon about what to expect, then make an informed decision that's best for you. If you're in good health and are positive about the procedure and expectations, then a facelift may be a great option for you.

The Facelift Step-By-Step

It's important to note that there is no single technique that fits all approach to facelift procedures. Be sure the surgeon you choose is not trying to sell you an overhyped, cookie-cutter procedure, but is instead taking your desired results and individuality into consideration.

Facelift variations range from short scar and mini facelift procedures to more extensive, sophisticated full facelift procedures. Dr. Fan suggests you find a surgeon who is qualified and experienced with a variety of facelift techniques to ensure you'll receive the perfect facelift for your needs.

The general procedure for a facelift surgery is as follows:

Step 1: Anesthesia

There are three anesthesia options available for facelift patients.

  • General Anesthesia (Fully Asleep)
  • Intravenous Sedation (Twilight Sleep)
  • Local Anesthesia with Oral Sedation (Partially Awake)

You may have some preference about the type of anesthesia used during your surgery. Your surgeon will take your preferences into consideration and recommend the best option for you based on the procedure and your individual needs. You can learn more about the different anesthesia options here.

Step 2: The Incision

The length and placement of the incisions depends on the technique you decide on with your surgeon. However, each technique requires an incision around the ear. The incision generally starts at the sideburn and follows the natural lines along the front of the ear, around the earlobe, and up behind the ear to the hairline. Additional small incisions may also be used under the chin, in the hairline, or in the lower eyelids. If a neck lift is included in your procedure, incisions will continue behind your ears and into your lower scalp.

Incision placement is designed to reduce the visibility of scars following the procedure. Natural skin folds are used to disguise scars that are not hidden by your hairline.

Step 3: The Lift

After the incisions are made, the deep support layers of the face and neck, including strong connective tissue and muscle layers called the SMAS and platysma, are gently lifted and tightened into a more youthful position. Excess fat is removed. The skin is then redraped over the new lifted tissue and any excess skin is removed in order to produce a smooth, youthful appearance.

The goal is for you to have beautiful, natural looking results and avoid the stretched, windswept look of a facelift gone bad. The importance of your surgeon being highly qualified and experienced with all facelift techniques cannot be stressed enough. Facelift surgery is a technically demanding procedure that requires the highest level of surgical skill and you want the best results possible.

Step 4: Closing the Incisions

After the skin is redraped and the excess removed, incisions are carefully closed, so scars remain hidden within the natural contours of the hairline and ear once healed. Stitches and/or metal clips are often used to close the incisions and if drainage tubes are needed, they'll be inserted now. A supportive dressing is often applied.

Step 5: See the Results

Healing and recovery will take some time, but dressings should be removed during your first visit. Once the bruising and swelling subside, the visible improvements of your facelift will appear. The final result will be a youthful, rested appearance that will restore your confidence and make you feel as beautiful on the outside as you feel on the inside.

Facelift surgery usually takes three to six hours. You may be able to go home that day, but some people stay overnight in the hospital.

Your Facelift Journey

Signs of facial aging don't have to be permanent or have a negative impact on your life. Thousands of people undergo facelift procedures every year and are very satisfied with the results, along with the effects the procedure has on their lives.

If you're ready to restore your youthful appearance and have your face emulate the beauty your feel inside, then talk to a surgeon to see if a facelift is right for you. Dr. Fan is a highly experienced, board-certified surgeon and offers free consultations. Schedule yours here.

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About the Author

Dr. Larry Fan is a Harvard educated, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA. He is a Master Artist who is known for creating beautiful, stunning, and natural results. Dr. Fan has been named One of America's Top Plastic Surgeons for the past 10 years running and has received several national awards for his work in Plastic Surgery. He has successfully performed more than 10,000 cosmetic procedures of the face, breasts, and body over a 20 year period. Dr Fan has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons, and has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and ABC.

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