A facelift, 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 facelift procedures and complimentary cosmetic techniques for both men and women, resulting in a younger, more vibrant look.
Why Choose Us
When considering a facelift (rhytidectomy), always look for a board-certified cosmetic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience. For the best results, choose a cosmetic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic.
Make sure to ask your cosmetic surgeon about his or her credentials, training and how many procedures he or she has performed.
How To Prepare
Am I a candidate for a face lift (rhytidectomy)?
If signs of aging in your face are causing you to look tired or sad, a face lift, also known as a rhytidectomy, may be right for you. By correcting skin excess in the neck, a facelift 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 Facelift (S-Lift) and MACS Lift (Minimal Incision Facelift). 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 facelifts.
Traditional facelift procedures offer better results for older patients with neck laxity, jowling and mid-face sagging.
Candidates for facelift 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 facelift 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 facelift 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 facelift and other facial rejuvenation procedures
- Examine and measure your face
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss your facelift procedure options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of a facelift and any risks or potential complications
- Learn more about what to expect.
- Access consultation information.
What To Expect
How is a face lift performed?
There are a wide variety of face lift procedures offered at the 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.
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 is a good option for someone who has minimal facial aging or is looking for a more minimally invasive 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.
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.
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.
Is a face lift safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk. Possible risks of face lift surgery include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- 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
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 from a minimally invasive face lift. 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.
Insurance & Financing
Insurance rarely covers the cost of elective cosmetic surgery and procedures.
Please call 216.444.4004 and ask to speak with one of our financial representatives who can explain payment options including CareCredit financing.