Facelift & Necklift Surgery
What is a facelift?
A facelift, medically referred to as a rhytidectomy, is a procedure that tightens the face to give the patient a younger appearance. Time, pollution, stress, and ingestible factors like smoking and drinking take a toll on the skin. Issues corrected during a facelift include:
1. Wrinkles and fine lines
3. Sagging or drooping skin
4. Fatty tissue
First of all, we know that there may be some confusion with respect to all of the different terminology pertaining to facelifts and related procedures, so we will start by clarifying some of the commonly used terms:
- “Facelift”: Often, we use the term “facelift” to refer to a combined “facelift & necklift” surgery. This is a facial rejuvenation surgery that helps restore a youthful appearance to your face and your neck.
- “Mini-facelift”: This term refers to a slightly less aggressive procedure that offers very similar improvement in the face but slightly less dramatic improvement in the neck.
- “Liquid facelift”: This is a non-surgical option that uses cosmetic injectables to provide a more youthful appearance. This may be a good option for patients who are interested in some rejuvenation but aren’t quite ready for surgery.
What can a facelift do for me?
Facelift & necklift surgery will provide you with a natural but tighter, firmer, and fresher appearance. The goal of surgery is to leave you looking like a more youthful version of yourself without appearing “overdone” or artificial. A combined facelift & necklift smooths loose skin on the face and neck, tightens underlying tissue, and removes excess fat via liposuction and direct excision when needed. The sagging tissues under the skin are then tightened, and the skin is re-draped to provide a smoother, more youthful contour to your face and neck.
What Is a Neck Lift?
A neck lift, known as platysmaplasty, is a surgery that firms the skin on the neck to reduce signs of aging. The skin on the neck can make a person appear significantly older as looseness increases over time. A neck lift gives the patient a renewed sense of youthfulness by smoothing away sagging and low-hanging skin.
Who is a good candidate for a Facelift Surgery?
The ideal candidate is anyone looking to improve their general appearance dramatically. Typical patients for facelift and neck lift surgery include:
1. People who have long been insecure about features of their face or neck and feel their quality of life would improve with a facelift or neck lift
2. Those who have experienced a significant amount of stress (excessive stress takes a physical as well as mental toll)
3. Someone who has undergone a traumatic experience that altered their natural facial and neck features
4. Aging patients who want to restore their younger features
In the right patient, a “mini-facelift” can provide a similar result to a full facelift & necklift surgery. A “mini-facelift” achieves the same benefits in the face, but the changes in the neck are less dramatic. If you have minimal excess skin in the neck, this may be a good option for you. When you come in for a consultation, Dr. Sidle will examine you and discuss which option would likely work best for you.
If you have made the exciting choice to go forward with a facelift or neck lift, there are some precautions to consider. These tips will help you plan your before and aftercare.
Before your surgery, you will need to purchase:
1. Antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin or Polysporin)
2. Ice packs or bags of frozen peas
4. Hydrogen peroxide
Six Weeks Before Surgery
Once you complete a thorough consultation with your doctor, it is time to schedule a procedure. Wait times generally span eight to ten weeks to ensure ample time for preparation. A well-known doctor may have patients wait months before an allotted surgery time becomes available. In that waiting period, you should prepare by:
1. Quitting smoking. Smoking disrupts the surgical process by negatively affecting blood flow around the incision site. Likewise, if you are receiving the procedure due to damage caused by smoking, continuing to smoke will ruin the results in the long run. If you have not already quit smoking, now is a wonderful time.
2. Securing a helper. You will require assistance on the day of the procedure and shortly after with simple tasks such as driving, cooking, cleaning, and anything that requires heavy lifting. Start to think about whom you want to help you, and give them plenty of notice.
3. Discuss with your doctor. If you have any additional medical concerns about the procedure or your medical history, bring those issues up with your doctor. Details of your medical history should always be transparent, especially before an operation.
Two Weeks Before Surgery
With the surgery date growing near, you’ll want to ensure that the items listed above are in order. In addition to quitting smoking, securing an assistant, and addressing medical concerns, you should:
1. Consider items of comfort that you will want and foods you may enjoy. A soft diet is best after surgery as it does not require significant movement of the facial muscles. Plan to focus your food intake around those protocols.
2. No aspirin or aspirin-like products (such as ibuprofen) are permissible during this time until after the operation. Discontinue using these products.
Evening Before Surgery
The evening before surgery, it is crucial to plan accordingly. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are ready for the big day:
1. Do not eat, drink, or smoke the night before surgery. These substances linger in the body and may potentially ruin the effects of medication and conflict with the incision site.
2. Thoroughly wash your face to ensure that no residue such as makeup or skincare product is left behind. The evening before surgery is also an opportune time to wash your hair.
Morning of Surgery
On the morning of the surgery, you will likely be anxious and excited. However, in your flurry of emotions, it is essential to remember these critical steps:
1. Even if you have done so the night before, wash your face thoroughly. Absolutely no makeup or skincare product should remain on the face. The face must be clear of all residue.
2. If you have not already, you may wash your hair so long as it will be dry in time for your operation. Dry hair does not stick to the face and neck like wet hair. Brush out any tangles.
3. When selecting an outfit, opt for something that zips up or can drape over the body. Any item that requires going over the head and face is not safe immediately after operation. It is essential to plan for comfort.
4. Take all prescription medicines with a sip of water and nothing else. Again, do not eat, drink, or smoke at this time. You may take your antibiotic. If you do not have a prescription, you will receive one in the operating room.
Remember to relax and trust that you are in good hands. The surgery will last two to four hours, followed by a few hours of recovery before going home. Gentle breathing exercises are helpful in calming nerves.
Are there any other procedures that can be combined with a facelift procedure?
In patients with small or “weak” chins, we often suggest combining a chin augmentation procedure with their facelift. This can provide a more ideal frame on which to re-drape skin and underlying tissue, resulting in a more aesthetically-pleasing profile. For more information, please see the Chin Augmentation page.
Patients who are bothered by the appearance of their face and neck often have similar concerns about the tired, aged appearance of their eyes. In these patients, combining a browlift, upper blepharoplasty, and/or lower blepharoplasty. These procedures are commonly performed at the same time as a facelift surgery. For more information, please see the Blepharoplasty and Browlift pages.
Finally, some fine lines, sun damage, and facial scars are not addressed with facelift surgery alone, In many cases, adding a chemical peel or laser treatment can restore smoothness and tone to the skin. For more information, please see the Skin Resurfacing page.
Will other people know that I had a facelift?
After you are fully healed, your friends and family will notice that you appear more youthful and refreshed, but you will not have an overdone, “surgical” appearance that stands out unnaturally to other people. While there are many variations in facelift technique, in all cases, one of the major goals is to keep the incisions hidden and concealed. The incisions are designed to keep the scars as inconspicuous as possible, and ultimately, they will be nearly invisible.
What can I expect after surgery?
Facelift surgery will restore a more youthful appearance by providing fuller cheeks, reducing laxity and fullness in the jowls, and tightening loose, sagging skin in the face and neck. The initial recovery period will typically take 10-14 days, during which time some swelling and bruising is to be expected. For the first week, you will wear a gentle dressing that helps the skin stay in ideal position during the early stages of healing. Some tightness and numbness will persist in the face and neck for a few weeks. When you come in for your consultation, Dr. Sidle and his staff will go through your surgical plan and your recovery period in great detail and answer any questions you may have.
How Long Can I Expect My Results to Last?
Face and neck lift results have long-term results and typically last an average of ten years. Different factors affect the longevity of your results, so some might experience longer-lasting results with care. Additionally, a more involved surgery will result in longer-lasting results.
To maintain results after a facelift or neck lift procedure, it is helpful to:
1. Treat the face with extreme care. Do not apply makeup or skincare with rigorous movement.
2. Wear sunscreen every day, as UV rays slowly deteriorate the skin. Never put sunscreen on a fresh or unhealed incision. Wear a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection.
3. Remove makeup every night and strip the face of impurities.
4. Follow a gentle and effective skincare routine. Your doctor may recommend a post-operative skincare regime for you to follow.
A facelift and neck lift will transform your life for the better. Recovery is a great time to incorporate new skincare habits and treat your face and neck better. Putting in the time and care ensures that your results will last to their maximum ability.
Is a Facelift or Neck Lift Right for Me?
If you have already identified as a candidate for a facelift or neck lift, some additional considerations include:
1. Your medical history
2. Monetary ability
3. Insurance (most insurance policies won’t cover a cosmetic procedure)
4. Time for recovery and freeing yourself of responsibilities for that period
If you find that you can work within these considerations, a facelift or neck lift procedure might be suitable for you. A doctor will review your options and answer any questions you may have during the consultation. Most importantly, if you feel that either procedure is right for you, it probably is.
What is a “liquid facelift”?
At his downtown Chicago office in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Sidle offers many non-surgical options for the treatment of facial lines and wrinkles. Dr. Sidle offers patients a “liquid facelift”, which may be a good non-surgical option for patients who are interested in facial rejuvenation but may not be ready for surgery yet.
A “liquid facelift” involves utilizing cosmetic dermal fillers to restore volume to areas of the face where volume loss has occurred due to aging. During the aging process, fat and collagen are slowly lost, which causes facial tissues to lose volume and appear to descend or “sag”. In particular, patients will notice a loss of volume in their cheeks, lower lids, and jawline, as well as more prominent folds and depressions around the mouth.
To address these areas, dermal fillers (cosmetic injectables) are strategically injected into facial lines, wrinkles, and folds to restore volume and fullness to the skin, providing a more toned, youthful appearance. Cosmetic fillers can replace the lost volume and stimulate new collagen production. Each cosmetic filler has its own unique properties and characteristics, as well as optimal performance profile and longevity. Botulinum toxins are often a useful adjunct to dermal fillers during non-surgical facial rejuvenation. For more information, please see the Cosmetic Injectables page.
Whom Should I Contact About a Facelift or Neck Lift?
You’ll want to look for a reputable plastic surgeon near you to administer the procedure. If you cannot locate a plastic surgeon in your immediate area, you may need to travel to ensure a safe operation. If you already see a dermatologist or esthetician, they may have recommendations.
Dr. Sidle of Northwestern Facial Plastic Surgery is a double-boarded cosmetic surgeon in the Chicago area. He is board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. He is additionally a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery.
While Dr. Sidle’s credentials are impressive, his most considerable accomplishment is his involvement with each patient throughout the surgical process. His vast experience puts patients at ease while providing a personal and attentive disposition. If you are in the Chicago area or may consider traveling for a cosmetic procedure, contact Dr. Sidle’s office for a consultation.
Post-Operative Care and Recovery
After the surgery, you will likely experience mild swelling and slight discomfort. Your chosen person will assist you with tasks for the first 48-72 hours. Some ways to alleviate discomfort include:
1. Elevating your head and preventing your chin from touching your chest. A hand-rolled towel or small pillow may be helpful for this.
2. Not lifting any heavy items or participating in strenuous activity for at least 72 hours. Jumping back into your routine may take a few weeks, but even the most active people should wait for the first few days. The longer you spend recovering, the more lasting your results will be.
3. Calling the doctor immediately if you notice any significant swelling on one side of the face.
Like any medical procedure, a facelift or neck lift will put your life on a brief pause. Your doctor will address your surgical dressings and treat additional features from the incision individually. Recovery is not the same for everyone, so be patient and aware of the healing process.
All post-operative instructions can be found on the Patient Resources page.