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What is a Facelift?

A facelift, also known as a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure done to address signs of aging in the face and neck.  While the term “facelift” can mean many different things to patients as well as providers, Dr. Sweat commonly refers to a facelift as a cheek and neck lift.  As we age, facial fat can fall or disappear, lines and folds can deepen, skin can relax and being to sag, and jowls can form. The skin and muscles of the neck also relax and cause bands in the neck.  When excess fatty tissue is present, the neck can seem full and patients often express concern over a “turkey gobbler neck”.  A facelift can correct these issues for a more youthful facial appearance.

Who is a Candidate?

If you are experiencing sagging skin on your midface or jaw, have deep creases or lines, or have lost facial volume, you may be able to benefit from a facelift. Ideal candidates will be in good health, be nonsmokers, and have realistic expectations for the outcome of their procedure. A consultation with Dr. Sweat can help to determine if this procedure is right for you.

The Procedure

The facelift procedure is done on an outpatient basis and is performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. There are two types of facelifts that can be performed: a traditional facelift and a limited-incision facelift.

Traditional Facelift

During a traditional facelift, an incision will be made in the hairline at the temples and continue around the ear, ending in the lower scalp. Facial fat can be sculpted, and tissues in the jowls and neck repositioned. Skin will be lifted and trimmed away to create a more youthful appearance. A second incision made under the chin may be needed to improve the appearance of sagging skin on the neck.

Limited Incision Facelift

For those with minimal to mild amounts of facial aging, a limited incision facelift may be a better choice. During this procedure, a shorter incision will be created at the temples, continuing around the ear.

The Results

Following your facelift procedure, you will have to wear a compression garment to reduce swelling. A small drainage tube is sometimes used to drain fluid created from the procedure and is usually removed on the first or second postoperative day.  To further minimize swelling, patients should recline rather than completely lie down, and keep the head elevated; do not bend over or forward. Mild to moderate pain may be present, which can be controlled with pain medication. Recovery time will be discussed with Dr. Sweat during your consultation, but most commonly involves a week or two off work and out of the public eye and six weeks of light activity to prevent swelling.  The small sutures used will usually dissolve without the need for removal.

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