As you age, the forces of stress, gravity, pollutants, sun exposure, and other environmental factors diminish the strength and health of our skin and the beauty of our appearance. The body will also begin to produce less of the essential proteins it needs to maintain its strength and appearance, like elastin and collagen.
Elastin is a protein found in the dermis that allows the skin to return to its normal shape and appearance after it has been stretched or distorted. Collagen is a structural protein that keeps skin strong and tight and prevents sagging from occurring.
As we age, the decrease in the production of collagen and elastin results in the formation of lines, folds, wrinkles, and facial sagging. Lifestyle choices such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and long periods of sun exposure affect the smoothness and firmness of your skin and face.
This results in noticeable skin sagging, particularly in the mid-face and around the cheek area, and the formation of noticeable jowls around the jawline. You may also have noticeable sagging and muscle banding in your neck, creating an appearance that is often referred to as the “turkey neck” look.
A facelift removes the loose skin on the face and neck, tightens the underlying muscles that have become weakened by repeated use and fatigue, and removes the excess fat that has accumulated in the face and neck.
In general, a facelift is performed in our Houston plastic surgery suite and addresses the common aesthetic issues that occur on the neck and the midface as a results of aging. The facelift procedure is commonly combined with eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) or a forehead lift in order to provide comprehensive facial rejuvenation. However, you may or may not need to have these additional procedures performed at the time of your face lift.
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Donna Rich may recommend an additional procedure be performed along with your facelift depending upon your aging pattern and the extent of your aesthetic issues. Decisions about the best procedures for your unique aging pattern will be discussed with Dr. Rich at your private consultation in her cosmetic surgery office near Houston, in Webster, TX.
Good Candidates for a Facelift Procedure
Although most of our Houston facelift patients are healthy men and women who are 40 years of age or older, if you have premature aging due to genetics, illness, or lifestyle habits, you’ll be glad to know that a facelift can be performed at an earlier age. Dr. Rich will develop a personalized plan for your facelift that caters towards your age, skin type, and the extent of your issues in order to provide results that look natural and beautiful.
It’s important that you have realistic expectations regarding the results of your facelift. Most of our Houston facelift patients are seeking to “turn back time” and restore their youthful appearance. On average, most patients look 10 to 15 years younger after their facelift procedure. However, results do vary from person to person based upon a number of factors.
Regardless of the estimated number of “years younger” you appear, your friends will notice that you look rested and vibrant—like yourself but “better.” The goal of the facelift procedure is to refresh your natural appearance so that everyone notices your enhanced appearance but does not feel like you don’t look like you.
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to refrain from smoking before your facelift (or any other cosmetic surgery procedure). Dr Rich will require that you stop smoking at least two weeks before your surgery and refrain from smoking for two weeks afterwards at a minimum. This is to ensure your safety during the procedure and your recovery, and also to ensure that quality of your results.
Smoking constricts the blood vessels and restricts circulation in the face, which robs your tissues of the oxygen it needs, oxygen necessary for healing process. Without proper circulation, the tissue on the face can become severely damaged and may even die. So, if you’re a smoker, this may be the motivation you need to quit!
During your initial consultation with Dr. Rich, a thorough examination of your face will be performed in order to accurately diagnose the extent of the issues on your face. Be sure to inform Dr. Rich at your private facelift consultation in her Houston plastic surgery office of any medications you take, including aspirin and any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, as well as Vitamin E and other vitamins. Dr. Rich will also ask about your current state of health and your general medical history to see if there may be any potential complications during your facelift.
How a Facelift Procedure Is Performed
Your facelift will be performed in the accredited surgical suite in our Houston plastic surgery office. A facelift is always performed under general anesthesia. Once anesthesia has been induced, Dr. Rich will make incisions around the ears and the forehead area. Dr. Rich will use extreme precision to ensure that the incision locations are well hidden in the creases of the ear and the hairline so that they are not visible once you have fully recovered.
She will tighten the musculature beneath the face and neck, remove the excess skin and fat, and tightly redrape the skin over the corrected facial muscles to create a younger appearance with firm and smooth skin before inserting tiny sutures to assist with the healing process.
A facelift procedure requires about four hours to complete; if you have added a blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) or other facial procedure, the procedure will last five to six hours. Dr. Rich will apply a special dressing that will stay on until your post-operative visit the following day. Once you’ve recovered in our Recovery Room, a friend or family member will drive you home, where you’ll rest, apply ice packs, and dream about your younger look!
What to Expect After Surgery
Before your facelift procedure, Dr. Rich will give you some prescriptions for discomfort and nausea, both of which you may experience following your facelift. Discomfort can be minimized with ice packs and by keeping your head elevated, even when sleeping.
You can prepare for your recovery period by purchasing extra pillows to provide you with the proper amount of elevation. Most patients find that discomfort has subsided within 24 to 48 hours, but this varies from person to person. You can wash your hair the first post-operative day, and all incisions should be cleaned with saline daily in order to avoid any infections or complications that can diminish your results.
You can apply make-up one day after all your sutures are removed, which is generally done beginning five to seven days after surgery. Removing sutures is quick and uncomplicated. Normal activities and walking can be resumed immediately, but Dr. Rich advises her patients to avoid strenuous activity for two weeks and active sports for six weeks. You can return to work as soon as you feel able. Most patients are back to work and social activities within a week, assuming their work does not involve heavy lifting or other strenuous activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the surgery?
Routine rhytidectomy, or facelift surgery, is complete in three to four hours.
How much younger will I look?
The majority of patients will look more refreshed and five to seven years younger.
When can I go back to work?
Most patients are able to go back to work in two weeks.
Will my facelift look natural?
We strive for a natural look post-op by smoothing down the muscle tissue and tightening the skin to prevent that unnatural pulled look.
How long will my results last?
Most facelifts will last five to seven years, but some patients never require a secondary facelift. The longevity of your results will depend on your genetics, your exposure to potentially harmful factors, your skin care regimen, and the way your body naturally ages.
If you have any other questions about the facelift procedure, please call our office at (281) 286-1000. We look forward to seeing you in the near future so you can see the “new you” in your near future!