Our face is our calling card and it forms the first impression of our age, health and mood. Time inevitably causes small wrinkles, the skin slackens and the facial features change. Although you might feel young and energetic, your face still influences your self-image, well-being, and self-esteem. A face-lift enables you to “turn back time” to some extent, reducing or eliminating the signs of ageing and making you feel better and more satisfied.
Why and for whom?
As we age natural biological processes, environmental factors (like gravity and sun-light) and life stress leave their impressions on our face.
Deep folds appear between nose and mouth (nasolabial folds), the chin-line loosens and cheeks slacken. Wrinkles and fat deposits appear under the chin and on the neck. Cosmetics may delay these processes, but they can neither stop them nor reverse them.
As a result, you might look older than you want to or actually older than you feel.
A face-lift gives you the opportunity to change this situation by stretching the face muscles, underlying tissues and skin, and removing excess tissue. Consequently, the overall features of the face and neck appear younger and age wrinkles become smoother.
A face-lift does not change the texture of your skin nor remove all the lines and wrinkles.
A face-lift can be performed on 40 to 70 year-old people, but can also be done even later in life. The result of the surgery depends on the skin’s elasticity, and this naturally decreases with the patients’ age.
How is the operation done?
The face-lift (surgeons sometimes use the Latin term Rhytidectomia, but can also refer to it as rhytidectomy) is a general concept that includes various techniques used to re-tension the facial muscles, face and neck skin, and subcutaneous tissues.
Each specific operation plan depends on the patient and his/her wishes.
Incisions are hidden in the skin’s natural folds or in places where they can easily be hidden with the use of hair or make-up.
The incision usually starts under the temporal hair, continues in front of the ear, or inside the small structure called the tragus, located just in front of the external acoustic opening, then runs under the earlobe to the back of the ear and then again into the hair.
Skin is separated from the subcutaneous tissues and fat is removed from the neck and cheeks if necessary. The slackened face muscles and tissues are then tightened and fastened. The facial skin will be given a natural tension, pulling it back and up. Excess skin is removed. Then, the skin is secured with stitches and clips (in the hair area).
If necessary, small plastic tubes or drains are temporarily used in the wound area to let any accumulating fluids drain. The head is wrapped in bandages to reduce swelling and haematomas (blood aggregates in the subcutaneous tissue) as much as possible.
Face-lift surgery usually takes 2 to 4 hours.
Depending on the patient’s wishes and needs, the operation can be combined with forehead, eyebrow and/or eyelid operations.
If the required correction is especially extensive, it might be necessary to divide the correction between separate surgeries.
Immediately after the operation, the patient’s face is bandaged and it feels sore and a little stiff.
The drains (if they had been used) will be removed before the patient leaves the clinic, and the wound area is cleaned and new bandages applied.
The face will feel unaccustomed to the changes in the beginning. The facial features might seem distorted by the swelling, facial expressions might appear rigid and inflexible. The face will have bruises and the wounds will be red. The skin may seem insensitive to touch in places.
The patients should lie in bed and avoid active movements during the first few post-operative days. Every now and then, it is recommended that they sit and/or stand to reduce facial swelling.
It is reasonable to plan to take leave from work for the first post-operative weeks to allow the body to recover and regain its normal energy.
Bandages and stitches are removed on about the 5th to 7th day, clips 9 to 12 days after the operation.
The haematomas absorb and the swelling diminishes within 1-2 weeks.
Some skin insensitivity is considered normal. It usually recedes within a few weeks to a month.
All kinds of stressful activities (including sexual intercourse) and heavy household tasks should be avoided for at least 2 weeks. Walking and moderate activities are allowed.
Patients usually return to work 2 weeks after the operation.
First results can be assessed after 3 months. Facial details finalize between 6 to 12 months after the operation.
Most scars will be under the hair or behind the ears.
Primary scars, which will initially be pink and higher than the rest of the skin, become even and soft after 6-12 months.
If the age-induced irreversible changes of your face disturb you and if you wish to change your looks so they appear younger and fresher, no other measures can currently replace the effectiveness of cosmetic surgery.
Surgery cannot stop the ageing process. Nevertheless, it can “turn back time” by reducing or eliminating the visible signs of ageing.
The results of cosmetic surgery are not permanent. Patients often want another procedure in 7-10 years. Still, the first operation as well as repeated procedures make the patient look better; increase their satisfaction and their quality of life for quite a long time.