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. Dr. Altamira uses different methods to smooth and tighten the skin of the cheeks, the chin area, and the upper neck.

What Can Facelift Surgery Improve?

These visible signs of aging respond well to facelift surgery:

  • Deep nasolabial folds
  • Mid-face sagging
  • Jowls
  • Fatty, loose areas below your cheekbones
  • Deep creases under your eyes
  • Banding, fatty tissue, and loose skin on your upper neck

Am I a Good Candidate for Facelift Surgery?

Generally, anyone over the age of 45 could benefit from a facelift. Non-smokers are better candidates. You need to realize that it will take 10 to 15 years off of your facial age, but it won’t stop the aging process, which will continue its inexorable march.

Facelift/Neck Lift Sugar Land & Houston, TX

Facelift Procedure

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 of 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
  • Mid-Facelift
  • Limited-incision facelift

Traditional 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.


In a mid-facelift, the target is the middle of the face, particularly the cheeks. Mid-facelifts can reduce puffiness under the eyes, correct nasolabial folds, and improve cheek definition and tone. For this method, Dr. Altamira makes small incisions in the lower eyelids or the mouth.

Limited-Incision Facelift

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.

Can You Combine Other Procedures With a Facelift?

To minimize recovery time, Dr. Altamira often combines other procedures with facelifts to enhance rejuvenation. Complementary procedures are neck lifts, brow lifts, and eyelid surgery.

Facelift Before and After

Facelift Surgery Recovery

Because facelifts involve lifting and repositioning a good deal of tissue, recovery from the procedure isn’t a walk in the park. There will be a good deal of tissue trauma, swelling, and bruising. Following surgery, Dr. Altamira will wrap your face in bandages, and there will likely be drainage tubes. Your first week or so you’ll 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’ll feel better quickly. As you recover, there will be some numbness in 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.

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.

Facelift Results

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. Because the aging process continues, many patients have a smaller facelift procedure again in five to 10 years simply to keep up with aging.

Risks of Facelift Surgery

The risks are the same as with most cosmetic surgeries, including:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Hematoma
  • Persistent swelling
  • Nerve injury due to re-draping is also possible

Schedule a Consultation

If you would like to learn more about facelift surgery, and fine out if you are a good candidate, call (713) 271-9000 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Altamira has plastic surgery offices located in Houston and Sugar Land, Texas.