patient's face being marked by surgeon for a facelift


What is a Facelift?

A facelift, also called ‘rhytidectomy‘, is a surgical procedure designed to help restore a bright, youthful appearance for both men and women. As we age, our skin begins to lose elasticity and is prone to sagging. This can result in a lot of fine lines and deep wrinkles which can cause you to look years older than your actual age.

There are several different facelifts which can be performed to address any level of wrinkling you may be experiencing, each with their own benefits. It isn’t just women who benefit from facelifts either. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, men make up around 9 percent of patients who come in for facelifts.

How do Facelifts Work?

Despite the differences in how some facelifts are performed, they all share the same basic underlying procedure.

When you go in for a facelift, you will either be given general anesthesia, local anesthesia, or what’s called ‘conscious sedation’, meaning that you are numb but still partially conscious, depending on the type of facelift you’re having performed. Once this has taken effect, the surgeon will begin by making incisions along your hairline and around your ears. The skin will then be lifted off of your face while the doctor rearranges the underlying tissue and removes any excess skin. They may also remove excess fat with liposuction at this stage. The skin will then be re-draped over your face and reattached with sutures.

This redistribution of tissue into a higher position combined with re-draping the skin of the face helps to eliminate deep wrinkles, lift sagging skin around the eyes, and remove hanging jowls, resulting in a brighter, more youthful look.

Different Kinds of Facelifts

There are many different kinds of facelifts available based on not only your aesthetic goals and facial anatomy, but also on cost, potential risks, and the downtime needed to recover from the procedure. Since these procedures vary by the number of tissue layers treated, the type of incision used, the degree of invasiveness, and the area of the face that is specifically targeted.

On the more invasive and costly side, there’s the deep plane lift. This procedure is considered to be the gold standard for facelifts since it adjusts the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) layer. The SMAS layer surrounds the muscles that control facial expression and has been shown to give patients longer-lasting results with fewer revisions than other procedures. The effects of a deep plane lift will last between 10 and 15 years.

Similar to the deep plane lift, the SMAS lift works well for patients who are experiencing a little laxity and sagging but not enough to warrant a full deep plane lift. There are several versions of the SMAS lift and cost, risks, and recovery time will vary depending on which one is used. There are also a variety of facelifts which are less invasive than this and are better for smaller corrections.

Combinations with Facelifts

Facelifts are sometimes used in combination with other procedures to achieve the desired results. Facelifts can be combined with:

  • neck lifts
  • eyebrow lifts
  • eyelid lifts
  • otoplasty (ear surgery)
  • chin surgery
  • and other facial implants

to help restore your youthful, vibrant appearance.

In the end, it will be up to you and your doctor to decide what procedure, or procedures, will be best for helping you feel confident in your own skin.