As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases tend to form between the nose and mouth. The jawline grows slack and jowly. And, folds and fat deposits appear around the neck area. A facelift procedure (technically known as rhytidectomy) is used to "set back the clock," improving the most visible signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping the skin of the face and neck. A facelift can be done alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as a forehead lift, eyelid surgery, or nose reshaping.
The facelift procedure takes several hours-or somewhat longer if you are having more than one procedure done. For extensive procedures, some surgeons may schedule two separate sessions. Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear, and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If you have chosen to have your neck worked on as well, a small incision may be made under the chin.
Following the incisions, your surgeon will separate the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the facial contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp. In some cases, a small, thin tube will be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
The chances are excellent that you will be happy with your facelift-especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. Even after the swelling and bruises are gone, the hair around your temples may be thin and your skin may feel dry and rough for several months. You'll have some scars from your facelift, but they're usually hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your face and ears and they will, with time, be scarcely visible.