Time waits for no one. This certainly applies to our face, as the years, sun exposure, gravity, and the stresses of life work together to age our face. One day you will look in the mirror and see volume loss in your cheeks, deep creases beside the mouth, a loose jawline, and folds on your neck. A facelift with Dr. Altamira can turn back the clock on these signs of aging, taking a decade or more off of your facial age.
What Is a Facelift?
Clinically known as rhytidectomy, a facelift is a surgical procedure that addresses the visible signs of aging in the mid and lower face and the upper neck. As we age, we develop lines from endless muscles contractions, lines caused by volume loss from declining collagen production, sun and environmental damage to the skin, and general sagging and stretching of the skin. Dr. Altamira uses different methods to smooth and tighten the skin of the cheeks, the chin area, and the upper neck.
During the procedure, the skin is lifted and underlying muscle and tissue are repositioned to its former higher position. Excess skin on the face is then trimmed for a smoother appearance. While facelifts cannot improve problems caused by sun damage, they do improve sagging and remove excess skin.
What Can Facelift Surgery Improve?
Facelift surgery improves the visible signs of aging that we all want to reduce. These areas in the face respond well to facelift surgery:
- Deep nasolabial folds
- Mid-face sagging
- Fatty, loose areas below your cheekbones
- Deep creases under your eyes
- Banding, fatty tissue, and loose skin on your upper neck
“I highly recommend board certified Dr. David Altamira for your plastic surgery needs and wants. He listens attentively during the consult, recommends procedures to meet your needs, and provides a seamless on point surgery. I also recommend any post-op treatments offered by his staff for a quicker recovery time. All of his staff are efficient, professional, and friendly.” -Lee
Who Is An Ideal Candidate For A Facelift?
First off, a facelift is something to be done for you and you alone. This procedure won’t change your life, but it can change the way you see yourself and that has real value. The best candidates for any type of facelift are patients with good elasticity in their skin, despite the sagging that comes with aging. To test this, your skin should “bounce back” when pinched. If you have this elasticity in your skin, the reality is that most people over the age of 45 could probably benefit from a facelift. Facelifts will take 10-15 years off of your facial age, but they, of course, can’t stop the aging process. Still, your face will age from a younger starting point than if you had not opted for the surgery.
The facelift procedure begins with a small, inconspicuous incision directly below the chin and/or in front of the ear lobes. The incisions loop behind the ears and end in the scalp near the back of the neck at the hairline. Dr. Altamira will trim away and lift sagging skin. Internal sutures are usually placed to lift the soft tissue of the cheeks and jowls that may have formed. If needed, the muscles that cause the vertical bands around the neck to be prominent are tightened to remove them. Liposuction is also sometimes used to remove excess fat on the cheeks and from under the chin if needed.
A facelift usually takes 2 to 4 hours to perform, and the patient is under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. Most neck lifts are performed on an outpatient basis. Bandages covering incisions are removed after one day; sutures are typically removed after 7 to 10 days.
Types of Facelifts
- Traditional facelift
- Limited-incision facelift
A traditional facelift involves the largest degree of lifting and repositioning of underlying muscle and other tissue. The goal is to rejuvenate the lower third of the face, jowls, and neck. Incisions begin at the temples on each side of the face, run down in front of the ears, wrap around the earlobes, and end in the hairline behind the ears. If the patient has extensive jowls, a second incision may be made under the chin to provide access to the skin and muscle of the upper neck. Dr. Altamira usually doesn’t remove fat so much as he repositions it; this avoids the patient having a hollow look after recovery. Excess skin is trimmed, and then the skin is re-draped.
What Is A Mid-Face Lift?
The mid-face lift is a newer approach to this procedure. A mid-face lift is sometimes also known as a cheek lift; it addresses one of the most telling signs of facial aging — sagging cheeks. Traditional facelifts usually focus on the lower third of the face, and may not fully treat the upper cheek and lower eyelid areas of the face. Mid-face lifts can reduce puffiness under the eyes, correct nasolabial folds, and improve cheek definition and tone.
A mid-face lift with Dr. Altamira elevates the fat pad in the cheek. This returns fullness to the eyes and the cheeks. While these areas can be addressed with facial fillers such as Juvederm Voluma, a mid-face lift is a permanent option. Plus, because Dr. Altamira only makes incisions in the lower eyelids or in the mouth, recovery is much easier than with a traditional facelift.
What Is A Mini Facelift?
For more limited rejuvenation, a mini facelift could be the answer. This is the most common type of facelift performed today. Mini facelifts address wrinkles and sagging skin on the lower third of the face using small incisions placed around the ear. A mini facelift is a good alternative for patients who don’t have too much sagging, but who are concerned by aging around the eyes and the mouth. A sagging jawline is a common reason for a mini facelift, with the goal of regaining a defined and slim profile.
A mini facelift involves alteration of the patient’s skin, but also of the underlying muscular system. This is known as the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS). Dr. Altamira lifts and refines these tissues to enhance the patient’s natural facial contours in a method that is substantial, yet looks completely natural.
If the patient doesn’t have too much sagging, a limited-incision facelift can be effective. It provides limited rejuvenation around the eyes and mouth, including nasolabial folds and other deep creases. This is a more moderate facelift for patients wanting subtle appearing results.
What Other Procedures Are Combined With Facelifts?
To minimize recovery time, Dr. Altamira often combines other procedures with facelifts to enhance rejuvenation. Patients sometimes think that a “facelift” addresses aging on the entire face. This is not the case. Facelifts, as mentioned above, generally target either the mid-face or the lower face and the neck. Facelifts do not target the area around the eyes or the forehead and brows. That’s why many patients opt to have eyelid surgery and/or a brow lift with their facelift.
Eyelid surgery provides very noticeable, yet subtle, results by removing excess skin and sometimes fat from both the upper and lower eyelids. The incisions are hidden in the natural crease of the upper eyelid or inside the lower eyelid.
A brow lift can reverse the sagging of the forehead and brows that can make a person appear either perpetually tired or perpetually angry. By raising the skin and underlying support muscles and tissue, a brow lift can refresh a patient’s look, and it makes a nice addition to a facelift.
With either a brow lift or eyelid surgery, by combining two procedures into a single surgery, patients only have to deal with a single recovery.
Facelift Before and After
What Is Facelift Surgery Recovery Like?
After your surgery, Dr. Altamira will have wrapped your incisions in bandages and there will likely be some drainage tubes in place. Tubes will be removed in a day or so, along with your bandages. While your stitches and clips will be removed in about one week. As facelifts involve lifting and repositioning a good deal of tissue, recovery from the procedure can be involved. There will be a good deal of tissue trauma, swelling, and bruising. For your first week or so you will need to sleep with your head elevated, making sure not to roll over onto your face. The first few days will be the most difficult, but then you will feel better quickly. Your face may feel stiff, tight, even distorted, but this will relax with a little time, usually from 3 to 6 weeks. Your neck could also feel some tension and tightness.
As you recover, there will be some numbness in those areas. This is normal and is a result of the facial nerves adjusting to the re-draped skin. Most patients can return to work by the third week after surgery. Depending on your bruising, camouflaging cosmetics could be a good idea.
What Will My Facelift Incisions and Scars Be Like?
The incision line usually runs along the hairline and within the natural contours in front and behind the ears. Skin is then pulled back and the incision is closed. In a traditional facelift, the surgeon will make incisions in your hairline at the temples, continuing down and around the front of your ears and hidden in the natural creases behind your ears in your lower hair-bearing scalp.
With a neck lift, the surgeon makes the incisions starting in front of your earlobes and continuing around behind your ears in your lower scalp. There will also be a small incision underneath your chin. Scars can be virtually invisible: narrow, flat, and behind the ear so you can wear your hair short.
How Long Will My Results Last?
The results of your facelift are permanent. They will continue to improve as the swelling decreases. It will take a few months to see your full results, as swelling can come and go especially later in the day. It’s important to remember that these changes are for the duration. Muscles that are repositioned are not going to shift. Excess skin that has been removed is gone.
That said, the aging process will continue, but it will advance from a younger starting point. Still, many patients opt to have a more limited procedure in 5 to 10 years to keep up with the natural aging process.
What Are The Risks of Facelift Surgery?
The risks are the same as with most cosmetic surgeries, including excessive bleeding, hematoma, uneven discoloration, and persistent swelling. With facelifts, nerve injury due to re-draping is also possible. Patients often feel a tingling or numbness along their incision sites. This is a sign that your nerves are adjusting to the trauma created by the procedure. While these locations may itch for a period of time, this will pass. Otherwise, a facelift with Dr. Altamira is a safe and satisfying procedure.
- Excessive bleeding
- Uneven discoloration
- Persistent swelling