Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery

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Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)

A face lift, also known as a rhytidectomy, improves the visible signs of aging in the face and neck. As you age, the skin and soft tissues of your face lose their elasticity and gravity begins to show its unwelcome effects.

Deep lines below the lower eyelid (the tear trough) and between the nose and mouth (nasolabial fold) as well as sagging skin can create a tired, older appearance. Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center offers many types of face lift procedures and complimentary cosmetic techniques for both men and women, resulting in a younger, more vibrant look.

Before & After Photos

Before

After

Female in her late fifties underwent a face lift. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and four months following surgery (right).

Female in her late fifties underwent a face lift. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and four months following surgery (right).

Woman in her late fifties that underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and four years following procedures (right).

Woman in her late fifties that underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and four years following procedures (right).

Woman in her early fifties underwent a face lift and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and three months following procedures (right).

Woman in her early fifties underwent a face lift and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and three months following procedures (right).

Woman in her early sixties underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and two months following procedures (right).

Woman in her early sixties underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and two months following procedures (right).

Woman in her mid fifties that underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and perioral peel. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and two months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid fifties that underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), and perioral peel. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and two months after surgery (right).

Woman in her late fifties concerned with her jowls and brow position. Patient underwent a face lift, endoscopic browlift and fat injections. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and three months after surgery (right).

Woman in her late fifties concerned with her jowls and brow position. Patient underwent a face lift, endoscopic browlift and fat injections. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and three months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties concerned with her neck. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left), and 11 months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties concerned with her neck. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left), and 11 months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties concerned with her neck and drooping eyelids. Patient underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and fat injections. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and four months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties concerned with her neck and drooping eyelids. Patient underwent a face lift, upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and fat injections. Patient is shown before surgery (left), and four months after surgery (right).

Woman in her late sixties concerned about the appearance of her midface area. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left), and seven months after surgery (right).

Woman in her late sixties concerned about the appearance of her midface area. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left), and seven months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties that underwent a face lift, perioral peel and upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). Patient is shown before surgery (left), and six months after surgery (right).

Woman in her mid sixties that underwent a face lift, perioral peel and upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). Patient is shown before surgery (left), and six months after surgery (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift. Patient is shown before face lift (left) and two years after face lift (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift. Patient is shown before face lift (left) and two years after face lift (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift. Patient is shown before face lift (left) and two years after face lift (right).

Female in her sixties who had a face lift, hairline brow lift and chemical peel around the mouth. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and five years after procedures (right).

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Female in her sixties who had a face lift, hairline brow lift and chemical peel around the mouth. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and five years after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties who had a face lift, hairline brow lift and chemical peel around the mouth. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and five years after procedures (right).

Female in her mid forties concerned with her jowls and neck after losing 40 lbs. Patient underwent a face lift and fat injections, and is shown before surgery (left) and six weeks after procedures (right).

Female in her mid forties concerned with her jowls and neck after losing 40 lbs. Patient underwent a face lift and fat injections, and is shown before surgery (left) and six weeks after procedures (right).

Female in her mid forties concerned with her jowls and neck after losing 40 lbs. Patient underwent a face lift and fat injections, and is shown before surgery (left) and six weeks after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties concerned about appearing tired. She had a face lift, hairline brow lift, lower eyelid surgery and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left) and four years after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties concerned about appearing tired. She had a face lift, hairline brow lift, lower eyelid surgery and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left) and four years after procedures (right).

Male in his late fifties concerned about his laugh lines, marionette lines and jowls after losing 140 lbs. Patient underwent a face lift and submalar implants to augment the cheeks, and is shown before procedures (left) and two months after procedures (right).

Male in his late fifties concerned about his laugh lines, marionette lines and jowls after losing 140 lbs. Patient underwent a face lift and submalar implants to augment the cheeks, and is shown before procedures (left) and two months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned about laxity in the cheeks, lower face and neck. Patient underwent a facelift and cosmetic eyelid surgery, and is shown before surgery (left), and 14 months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned about laxity in the cheeks, lower face and neck. Patient underwent a facelift and cosmetic eyelid surgery, and is shown before surgery (left), and 14 months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned with her neck area. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left) and two years after face lift (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned with her neck area. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown before surgery (left) and two years after face lift (right).

Female in her fifties who had a face lift, endoscopic brow lift and upper bleph. Patient is shown before face lift, forehead and eyebrow lift, and cosmetic eyelid surgery (left), and eight months after procedures (right).

Female in her fifties who had a face lift, endoscopic brow lift and upper bleph. Patient is shown before face lift, forehead and eyebrow lift, and cosmetic eyelid surgery (left), and eight months after procedures (right).

Female in her fifties who had a face lift, endoscopic brow lift and upper bleph. Patient is shown before face lift, forehead and eyebrow lift, and cosmetic eyelid surgery (left), and eight months after procedures (right).

Female in her forties concerned with her neck area. Patient underwent a face lift and upper eyelid surgery. Patient is shown before face lift and upper eyelid surgery (left) and three months after procedures (right).

Female in her forties concerned with her neck area. Patient underwent a face lift and upper eyelid surgery. Patient is shown before face lift and upper eyelid surgery (left) and three months after procedures (right).

Female in her fifties who had a face lift, chemical peel around the mouth, and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left) and five months after procedures (right).

Female in her fifties who had a face lift, chemical peel around the mouth, and fat injections. Patient is shown before procedures (left) and five months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned about sunken eyes and droopy cheeks. Patient underwent a face lift and a endoscopic brow lift, and is shown before procedures (left), and after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties concerned about sunken eyes and droopy cheeks. Patient underwent a face lift and a endoscopic brow lift, and is shown before procedures (left), and after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties concerned with the appearance of her lower face area. Patient underwent a face lift, endoscopic brow lift and chemical peel around her mouth. She is shown before procedures (left) and two months after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties concerned with the appearance of her lower face area. Patient underwent a face lift, endoscopic brow lift and chemical peel around her mouth. She is shown before procedures (left) and two months after procedures (right).

Female in her mid seventies concerned with the wrinkles in her cheeks and lower face. Patient had a face lift and upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) for drooping upper lids. She is shown before face lift and upper bleph (left), and three months after procedures (right).

Female in her mid seventies concerned with the wrinkles in her cheeks and lower face. Patient had a face lift and upper blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) for drooping upper lids. She is shown before face lift and upper bleph (left), and three months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift, upper lip lift, fat injections and upper bleph. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and three months after procedure (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift, upper lip lift, fat injections and upper bleph. Patient is shown before procedures (left), and three months after procedure (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift, neck lift, and laser light based treatments. Patient is shown before face lift, neck lift and laser light based treatment (left), and six months after procedures (right).

Female in her late fifties who had a face lift, neck lift, and laser light based treatments. Patient is shown before face lift, neck lift and laser light based treatment (left), and six months after procedures (right).

Female in her seventies who had a face lift after losing 100 lbs from weight loss surgery. Patient is shown before a Short Scar Face Lift (left), and patient two months after procedures (right).

Female in her seventies who had a face lift after losing 100 lbs from weight loss surgery. Patient is shown before a Short Scar Face Lift (left), and patient two months after procedures (right).

Woman in her early fifties concerned about the deepening nasolabial folds and marionette lines. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown facing forward before surgery (left), and 16 months after surgery (right).

Woman in her early fifties concerned about the deepening nasolabial folds and marionette lines. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown on the right side before surgery (left), and 16 months after surgery (right).

Woman in her early fifties concerned about the deepening nasolabial folds and marionette lines. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown a close up of the eyes before surgery (left), and 16 months after surgery (right).

Woman in her early fifties concerned about the deepening nasolabial folds and marionette lines. Patient underwent a face lift, and is shown with a right side close up of the eyes before surgery (left), and 16 months after surgery (right).

Female in her sixties concerned about her neck and jawline. She underwent a face lift and fat injections, and is shown before the procedures (left), and two months after procedures (right).

Female in her sixties concerned about her neck and jawline. She underwent a face lift and fat injections, and is shown before the procedures (left), and two months after procedures (right).

Am I a candidate for a face lift?

If signs of aging in your face are causing you to look tired or sad, a face lift may be right for you. By correcting skin excess in the neck, a face lift can improve visible signs of aging in the face and neck, such as:

  • Sagging in the mid-face
  • Deep creases below the lower eyelids
  • Deep creases along the nose extending to the corner of the mouth
  • Facial fat that has fallen or is displaced, creating jowls
  • Loose skin and excess fatty deposits under the chin and jaw (causing a “double chin” or “turkey gobbler”).

Are you interested in a minimally invasive face lift procedure? These include Short Scar Face lift (S-Lift) and MACS Lift (Minimal Incision Face lift). Ideal candidates are patients in their 40s and 50s with minimal to moderate excess skin in the neck, jowl and mid-face. Patients who have good bone structure of the face and have lost some, but not all, skin elasticity are also good candidates for minimally invasive face lifts.

Traditional face lift procedures offer better results for older patients with neck laxity,  jowling and mid-face sagging.

Candidates for face lift surgery should be in good health. Active smokers are known to be at greater risk for healing problems than non-smokers or past smokers. Details of your smoking history should be discussed with your cosmetic surgeon.

How do I prepare for a face lift?

Preparing for your face lift procedure at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will include a discussion with your cosmetic surgeon about your health, desires and lifestyle. He or she will evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors as part of this consultation.

To ensure the best results from your face lift procedure, be prepared to discuss:

  • Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • Previous surgeries

Your cosmetic surgeon may also:

  • Discuss the options available to you for face lift and other facial rejuvenation procedures
  • Examine and measure your face
  • Take photographs for your medical record
  • Discuss your face lift procedure options and recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of a face lift and any risks or potential complications

Will it be obvious that I’ve had a face lift?

A well-done surgery should result in a refreshed, rested, younger looking patient – a rejuvenation of their former look, not a modified appearance. Often, others comment that you look well rested or that you have lost weight.

Does the condition of the skin, such as prior sun damage, affect a face lift?

Yes. If the skin quality or skin elasticity is poor, the face lift results will not be as long lasting. This would mean that instead of results possibly lasting 10 years, your results may only last five years requiring a revision sooner than someone with better quality skin.

What is a “Lunchtime Lift” and other similar procedures, and are they safe?

The “lunchtime lift” is a consumer term for a minimally invasive face lift. Various techniques have been used to try to accomplish what traditional face lift surgery can.

Minimally invasive techniques are most effective for younger patients and most effective in the cheek area. They are less effective in the neck and jowl region.

Undergoing lunchtime surgery and expecting an immediate recovery and spectacular results is not realistic. Having an in-depth consultation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon who does a significant amount of face lift surgery is your best bet for satisfaction.

Does Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center provide the 'quick lift' that has been advertised recently?

Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center provides all types of minimally invasive and traditional face lift procedures. The reality of surgical results needs to be discussed honestly, and the benefits from minimally invasive surgery clearly understood.

The quick lift advertisements are often misleading and over promise end results. A clear discussion with your cosmetic surgeon regarding expectations will help determine which face lift procedure is right for you.

One of the best ways to decide if cosmetic surgery is right for you is by meeting with a cosmetic or plastic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

During this first consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss your goals and expectations. Your surgeon will also:

How is a face lift performed?

There are a wide variety of face lift procedures offered Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center, and each procedure is highly individualized for a patient’s specific needs.

Face lift techniques range from simple, minimally invasive approaches completed through incisions in front of the ear, to the more extensive face and neck lift procedures.

Most modern face lift techniques address not only the skin, but also tighten the underlying soft tissue called the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system).

Traditional Face lift:
The traditional (lower) face lift corrects the midface, jowls and neck, allowing excess skin to be removed. The traditional approach is performed by making an incision that runs in front of and behind the ear. Both the skin and underlying tissue (SMAS) is tightened, and excess skin and fat from the lower face and neck are removed. Traditional face lift surgery takes approximately four hours and several weeks for recovery.
SMAS lift:

The SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) lift builds on the traditional face lift by elevating the skin, as well as deeper tissues of the face and neck (also known as the SMAS). Through an incision in front of the ear, the cosmetic surgeon raises the SMAS and tightens it. The skin is then also tightened. The SMAS procedure takes a number of hours to perform.

There are a number of SMAS face lift approaches (detailed below). Although the technical aspects of each SMAS approach vary, the basic concept is to tighten the skin’s deep tissues that are responsible for facial expression by both enhancing the longevity of the result and maximizing quality of the scar.

A full consultation with your cosmetic surgeon will help determine the face lift procedure that is best for you.

Are there different types of face lift procedures?

There have been many advances in face lift techniques throughout the last decade, with each yielding more natural looking results with minimal scarring and a shorter recovery. With so many options, the best way to determine which face lift technique is best for you is through a full consultation with a cosmetic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

Face lift techniques offered at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center include:

Short Scar Face lift:
An alternative to traditional face lifts is the short scar face lift, which is also called the S-Lift, MACS Lift or Minimal Incision Face lift. This procedure limits the length of the incision behind the ear. A common incision used in a short scar face lift is an S-shaped incision (S-lift) at the temple or in front of the ear and not extending behind the ear. The MACS (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension lift) technique uses an incision that stops at the ear lobe. Short scar face lifts are best for younger patients with mild to moderate aging.
Subperisteal Lift:
This procedure tightens the deeper tissues of the face. The subperisteal lift method is done endoscopically (through a long, thin instrument that examines the interior of the face) to release the tissues off of the bony layer to elevate and reshape the face. This is the standard approach for performing an endoscopic forehead lift.
Deep Plane Face lift:
The deep plane system is a more invasive process that reshapes the whole face including the neck, brow and both upper and lower eyelids. By lifting the skin, facial tissues, muscle and fat in one continuous section, deep plane lifts can treat more of the face area. While this procedure can accomplish more, it is more invasive than the traditional or SMAS approach and can take more time for recovery.
Mid-face lift:
The mid-face lift, also known as the cheek lift, focuses on the area beginning below the eye to the lower cheek area. As the area between the lower eyelid, cheek and nasolabial fold ages, this area descends and cannot always be improved by a regular face lift procedure. The cheek lift concentrates on improving the loose skin, fat deposits and tissues of this particular area. This procedure is specifically geared toward the cheek area, and does not address the aging signs of brow, jaw line or neck.
Threadlift or Feather Lift:
This newly approved procedure is considered the least invasive of face lift methods. The threadlift technique uses patented self-anchoring polypropylene threads, which have been used safely in surgical procedures for decades. These contour threads lift and suspend tissues in the facial area by self-anchoring threads with barbs that attach to underlying tissues. This method is safe and less invasive than other methods, and yields conservative, natural results. Because this is a newly approved technique, it may take several years to determine the long-term results of this type of face lift.

What results can I expect?

Post-surgery bruising and swelling lasting two to three weeks is typical following face lift surgery. You may also experience tightness, numbness and swelling for several weeks.

Results from your face lift will be long lasting, but it may take several months for swelling to fully subside and up to six months for incision lines to heal. You can help maintain your rejuvenated, more youthful appearance through life-long sun protection and a healthy lifestyle. Follow-up consultations with your cosmetic surgeon will help ensure your face lift results.

What is involved in recovery?

When your face lift procedure is completed, a bandage may be placed around your face to minimize swelling and bruising. A thin tube may be inserted to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect under the skin, which is removed the day after surgery.

Even though most patients experience very little pain, your cosmetic surgeon will prescribe pain medication. Some degree of swelling and bruising is unavoidable, and you may be instructed to use cold compresses to keep swelling to a minimum. If a bandage has been placed on your face, it will be removed within one to two days.

You will be instructed to keep your head elevated when lying down, to avoid as much activity as possible, and to report any discomfort to your cosmetic surgeon. All sutures are usually removed within five to ten days following surgery. In general, you will be recommended to avoid vigorous activity.

Face lift procedures are often performed as an outpatient or with a one-night stay at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. If your face lift is completed as an outpatient, make certain you bring someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.

Recovery from traditional face lift procedures may be lengthier than minimally invasive surgery. Yet, most patients return to work and ordinary activities within two to three weeks. Your Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center cosmetic surgeon will advise the best recovery plan for you.

Is a face lift safe?

All surgical procedures carry some risk. Possible risks of face lift procedures include:

  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Correctable hair loss at the incisions
  • Facial nerve injury with weakness
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Skin loss
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discoloration, sensitivity or swelling
  • Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
  • Unsatisfactory results, which may include asymmetry, unsatisfactory surgical scar location, unacceptable visible deformities at the ends of the incisions
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications (rare)
  • Possibility of revisional surgery

Why Choose Us

If you’re considering a face lift, look for a board-certified cosmetic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing face lift procedures. You should consider going to a cosmetic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic, for the best results. Ask your cosmetic surgeon about his or her credentials, training, and how many face lift procedures he or she has performed.

Facial Cosmetic Surgeries at Cleveland Clinic

Is this procedure covered by health insurance?

Like all cosmetic procedures, face lift procedures are not covered by health insurance. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain the costs of the procedure and payment options.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

Have Questions? Contact the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center

855.383.7843