What is a Facelift?
A facelift is a surgical procedure intended to improve the visible signs of aging in your most noticeable features—the face and neck. In general, a facelift targets the lower two-thirds of the face, and the brow lift is used for the upper one-third. The main reason for a facelift is to resculpt the underlying tissue of the skin, allowing our surgeons here at Boulder Plastic Surgery to redrape the skin while removing any excess tissue. A facelift is a popular cosmetic surgery because it’s customized to your particular features. Our doctors work with each patient individually to determine which aspects of the face need to be transformed for optimal results.
About the Procedure
The facelift has evolved over the past 5-10 years, and Boulder Plastic Surgery takes extensive steps to ensure each facelift procedure produces long-lasting results. While each facelift case is slightly different from the next, the following details will give you a good idea of what to expect from yours.
- Length: 4 hours
- Anesthesia: General anesthesia, usually outpatient. Some patients may require short inpatient stay.
- Side Effects: Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, tenderness, tightness, and dryness of skin. For men with facial hair, they may need to shave behind the ears, where skin with facial hair is repositioned.
- Recovery: Patients may go back to work after 10-14 days, and the appearance of skin may heal in the first 2-4 weeks. Subtle improvement in the skin’s appearance can be seen in the first 6 months.
- Exercise: A patient may resume low-intensity exercise in 3 weeks and moderate-intensity activity around 6 weeks. Patients may start full-intensity exercise closer to 8 weeks.
- Fading & Scar Improvement: 6-12 months.
- Swelling: Moderate swelling within the first 4 weeks. Mild swelling 2-3 months after the facelift. However, swelling depends on the extent of the facelift procedure.
- Duration of Results: Usually 5 -10 years.
- Office Visits: The first office visit 24 hours after the procedure. The second visit should be within five days of the procedure. In total, there should be 7-10 appointments in the first 3 months, and then six months to yearly.
- Garment Worn: Wear a neck strap for 4 -6 weeks.
- Pain Meds: Take ibuprofen or sedatives as directed.
First Consultation: Developing Expectations For a Natural Facelift
Here at Boulder Plastic Surgery, our surgeons strive to find the best procedure for each patient. To help a patient decide on a facelift procedure, there are certain things the surgeon and patient need to do during the consultation, including:
- Review of medical history (including hereditary health issues and hormonal changes).
- Discuss patient’s desires regarding facial rejuvenation.
- Examine the patient’s general health.
- Note the condition of the skin (number and types of wrinkles).
- Study the face’s bone structure.
- Discuss surgical plan and anticipated outcome.
- Take preoperative photographs (once a patient decides upon a facelift) to assist with planning and executing the facelift procedure.
- Discuss surgical fees and payment options.
We want to establish trust with our patients, which is why we will always be honest with our opinions regarding a certain procedure. If we believe you will benefit more from another procedure, we won’t hesitate to let you now. In terms of achieving a successful facelift, a patient with a healthy body and mindset can improve his or her facelift results.
In a consultation, you are encouraged to express all of your concerns and questions. To proceed with a facelift procedure, you need to be certain this is what you want. Our surgeons want to ensure they understand your specific needs regarding cosmetic surgery.
Preparing For Your Facelift
To provide a problem-free and predictable recovery, Boulder Plastic Surgery takes the appropriate steps to prepare patients for cosmetic procedures. Here is how we prepare patients for facelift surgery:
- Make arrangements to schedule surgery
- Provide specific instructions to confirm a patient’s surgery time and facility, as well as anesthesia schedule
- Ensure patient is following a proper diet and exercise plan
- Schedule timely medical evaluations to check on patient’s general health and wellness (this is necessary for faster recovery)
- Run routine blood counts, blood chemistries, electrocardiogram (if the patient is over the age of 50), and pregnancy test (if applicable)
- Use preventative medicine as needed, also providing vitamin and herbal supplements a week or two ahead of time to boost the body’s immune system and detox the system of anything that could interfere with anesthesia or prescribed medications.
Boulder Plastic Surgery focuses on a holistic approach to maintaining good health and wellness for positive surgery outcomes. For a safe procedure, patients must disclose all medications and supplements they are taking.
Before surgery, do not do the following:
- Take any aspirin or drug containing aspirin at least two weeks prior to surgery – it can interfere with blood clotting mechanisms
- Eat or drink anything 8 hours prior to surgery – safety in the administration of anesthesia or sedation requires that your stomach be absolutely empty for this interval of time before surgery
Before the facelift procedure, we recommend patients shower or bathe the night before and wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing the day of surgery. Also, you should arrange for someone to drive you home at the appropriate time following the facelift procedure.
During Your Facelift Surgery
We will mark your surgical site(s), depending on the approach, to use as guidelines during your surgery. Boulder Plastic Surgery customizes each facelift surgery to accommodate a patient’s specific needs, because facial structures and severity of sagging skin and wrinkles differ. We prefer to make shorter incisions and alter specific anatomic areas to produce a natural-looking fresh, bright, and smoother appearance.
Surgical time usually ranges from 3-4 hours, depending on the technique chosen. In terms of the actual facelift procedure, there is a set of operational steps, such as:
- Create incisions at the hairline (near the temple), a crease in front of the ears, around the earlobe, behind the ear, and then extend into the hairline behind the ear.
- Elevate the skin from the underlying tissues of the face and neck.
- Tighten, reposition, and sculpt tissue to give better definition to the jaw line and neck. The surgeon will make sure less tissue weight and tension is redistributed to the skin, so this lessens the chance of skin loosening at a faster rate.
- Remove excess skin.
Once the procedure is completed, you will be transferred to the designated recovery area until anesthesia wears off. Once you are in a comfortable state, the surgeon will examine the results and then let you rest in the recovery room for a few hours.
Note: Patients are prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of infection—instructions will be given for each.
In the days and early weeks after the facelift, areas of your skin, specifically behind the ears and the neck, may feel tight. Post-procedure swelling causes this tightness, as well as tension in the tissue, which is intended to help you achieve a younger appearance. Once the swelling goes down, your facial muscles will be able to move more freely.
Besides a tight feeling, numbness will reside in other areas of the skin, lasting for a matter of weeks to months—and a tingling sensation may follow. Numerous areas of the face and neck might also feel lumpy or like they retained fluid, which is normal and will resolve in the first 4-6 weeks.
The sutures beneath the skin won’t require removal but will reabsorb in a matter of weeks or months, unlike the outer sutures that will be removed at different intervals.
Since results aren’t seen right away, many patients tend to feel self-conscious of their faces. This feeling is quite normal, and we encourage you to express your concerns so we can provide the appropriate answers. Results will take time but can been seen in the following months after a facelift procedure.
Facelift Risks, Limitations, & Possible Limitations
With any surgical procedure, a very small percentage of complications can occur. Many of these effects are very rare, but it’s important to be informed of all risks before a procedure no matter how unlikely.
- Minimal pain: Prescription pain medication can be provided to alleviate any discomfort.
- A feeling of tightness: This is usually in the area behind the ears – this is the area where the skin tension is distributed to correct laxity and improve the facial wrinkles.
- Slightly red scars: The surgical scars usually heal and fade around 6 to 12 weeks. Try to avoid too much sun exposure.
- Significant bleeding: This can occur postoperatively in 2-5% of patients and is recognized by a significant increase of swelling in a single isolated area or the side of the face. Swelling is usually accompanied by an increase in bruising in the same area, as well as increased pain. Please contact our office immediately if these problems arise.
- Facial muscle weakness: When more extensive procedures are required to achieve the desired facelift results, branches of the facial nerve, which control movement of facial muscles, may be bruised or injured. In the vast majority of cases, facial muscles weakness is temporary. The possibility of permanent damage with permanent weakness exists, but is extremely rare.
- Delayed healing or partial loss of skin: If areas of circulation to the skin are compromised, delayed healing or partial loss of skin may occur. This issue is usually apparent by the appearance of crusting or blistering on the skin’s surface. Most cases are easily treated with wound care, and if larger areas of skin are affected, we may recommend additional procedures.
- Non–symmetry: To correct excessive wrinkling and sagging with a facelift, our surgeons will resculpt and remove excess skin exactly to the same degree on both sides, but the operation does not achieve perfect symmetry, which is also not present preoperatively either.
- Infection: It is rare, but infection can occur. Infection is easily treatable with antibiotics, which are prescribed beforehand, or the surgeon can drain the localized area of infection.
- Reaction to drugs administered during surgery: Severe side effects are extremely rare, but can be life threatening. It is for this reason that our staff performs your surgery in the best medical setting where all conceivable equipment and medical backup are available in case of a severe reaction.
Estimated Facelift Cost
The average estimate for a facelift is $11,000 – $12,500, which includes the surgeon, operating room, and anesthesia. This price can fluctuate depending on the extent of surgery for the particular case. In some cases, a facelift will be combined with related procedures. For example, if excess fat is present beneath the chin, a separate procedure for removal (submental lipectomy) may be necessary for optimal correction.
To get specific details and pricing for a facelift procedure, contact us at Boulder Plastic Surgery by calling (303) 443-2277 or stop by our office at 2525 4th Street in Boulder, CO. Our staff will set you up with a consultation so you can ask our doctors all of the questions you have in person.
- “Thank you for my perfect reflection, for being you and taking such good care of me.” — MW
- “Thank you for all that you have done for me. I admire you work ethic and how much your practice has grown. You are a credit to your profession, and a man with tremendous charisma! I feel very lucky to have you as a surgeon.” — DM