A facelift is a common type of cosmetic surgery that involves improving visual signs of aging in your face and neck. There are several types of facelift surgeries, so it's important to talk to your surgeon about what will work best for you.
A facelift (also known as a rhytidectomy) is a general term for any surgical procedure that improves signs of aging in your face and/or neck by repositioning or removing skin, fat and/or muscle. Signs of aging that a facelift can restore include:
Facelifts are considered cosmetic restorative surgeries and cannot fundamentally change your appearance or stop the aging process. They also can’t treat superficial wrinkles, sun damage or irregularities in your skin color. Facelifts are very individualized surgeries that are unique to each person’s face and their result goals.
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There are many kinds of facelift surgeries depending on which areas of the face and neck are targeted. Types of facelift surgeries include:
In many cases, people who get a facelift undergo other procedures at the same time as their facelift surgery, including:
In general, you’re a good candidate for facelift surgery if:
The best candidates for facelift surgery are those patients who have signs of facial aging, but who still have some skin elasticity. Generally, this includes patients who are in their 40s to 60s, although people who are younger or older than that range can sometimes be candidates for surgery.
Facelifts are one of the most common cosmetic surgeries. Each year, more than 131,000 people in the United States get a facelift.
Every facelift surgery is specific to the person’s unique face and goals, so it’s important to have a thorough discussion with your plastic surgeon before your surgery. At your facelift consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss the following topics:
During the consultation, your surgeon will also:
It may be helpful to ask your surgeon the following questions during your facelift consultation:
In preparation for facelift surgery, your surgeon may have you:
It’s crucial to follow the instructions that your surgeon gives you before your surgery. Following their guidelines will help the surgery go more smoothly and help you heal properly.
You should arrange for someone to drive you to your surgery and home after your surgery. You should also have someone stay with you for the first 48 hours after your surgery at least. If you have a more invasive facelift, such as a traditional facelift, you may need to take up to three weeks off work. Less invasive surgeries, such as a mini-facelift, usually require five to seven days off work. Be sure to discuss this with your surgeon before your surgery so you can plan accordingly.
Setting up a home recovery area
Before you undergo facelift surgery, make sure you take the time to establish a recovery area in your home that includes the following:
There are many steps involved in facelift surgery. Here’s an explanation of the steps.
Your surgeon will perform the surgery while you’re under general anesthesia (you'll go to sleep) or through IV sedation. Your surgeon will recommend the best option for you and your type of surgery.
Depending on the type of facelift you get, your surgeon could make incisions on these place during surgery:
The size of the incisions will also vary based on the type of facelift you’re getting. Your surgeon will discuss all of this with you before the surgery.
Facelifts generally involve repositioning and/or removing facial skin and/or fat and tightening facial muscles. Depending on the type of facelift you’re getting, your surgeon may just do one of these actions or all of them. You and your surgeon will discuss the process in detail before your surgery.
Closing the incisions
After the procedure, your surgeon will close the incision(s) with one of the following options:
Right after your facelift surgery, a healthcare provider will take you to a room for observation while you wake up from the surgery. You’ll be able to leave the hospital once you’re stable. This usually takes a couple of hours.
You may have a bandage around your face to help minimize swelling and bruising. You may also have small drainage tubes.
Before you leave, your surgeon will give you specific instructions for your facelift surgery recovery, including how to care for your incision site(s) and drains, and schedule a follow-up appointment. Your surgeon will give you a prescription for medication to control pain, if necessary.
People usually get facelifts to improve signs of aging and have a more youthful appearance. This may help increase your confidence and self-esteem.
As with any surgery, there are side effects, and you do risk certain complications. Risks for facelift surgery, while rare, include:
Other important considerations include:
After your facelift surgery, you’ll experience bruising and swelling that’ll last for about two to three weeks. Some people heal more quickly and others heal more slowly. Even though you may not wish to go out in public during the early recovery period, you should begin to feel fine in the first several days after surgery.
In most cases, your surgeon will remove your bandages just a few days after the facelift surgery. Your surgeon will want to see you several times during the two to three weeks after surgery to assess your bruising and swelling and to remove your stitches.
The time it takes to recover from a facelift depends on what kind of surgery you had and your overall health. You may have bruising and swelling for a couple of weeks. However, it could take two to three months before your face feels “back to normal.”
Most people who have more invasive facelifts can return to work in two to three weeks. If you have a less invasive procedure, such as a mini-facelift, you can usually return to work after five to seven days. Your surgeon will likely recommend that you don’t do strenuous exercise for at least three weeks after your surgery.
If you’ve had a facelift surgery, you should contact your healthcare provider or surgeon immediately if you have any of the following symptoms or experiences:
Insurance carriers generally do not cover surgery that is cosmetic or elective, so you probably will have to pay out-of-pocket for facelift surgery. Make sure that you receive all of your surgeon's costs in writing. It’s a good idea to ask for detailed charges that you will incur for anesthesia, follow-up care, any required prescriptions, etc.
Most people who get a facelift do so in their 40s, 50s or 60s when signs of aging begin to appear. There’s no “best age” to get a facelift because everyone ages differently from various factors such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. It’s important to remember that facelifts usually last seven to ten years. Some people get an initial facelift in their mid-40s to early-50s and then get a second facelift “update” in their 60s.
There are many types of facelift surgeries, and each surgery is as unique as you are. Some target specific areas of your face while others target most or all of the areas of your face. A board-certified surgeon can discuss all the facelift options with you and together you can decide on a surgery that works for you and your goals.
In general, the more loose and excess skin you have, the more significant the surgery will likely be. In these cases, surgeons often recommend a full, or traditional, facelift. If you have minimal skin looseness and just early signs of aging, you may opt for less invasive surgery, such as a mini-facelift. Other procedures can be paired with a facelift, such as eyelid surgery or a brow lift, to achieve a more complete rejuvenation. Again, it’s crucial to meet with a board-certified surgeon to fully understand all of the options.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Facelifts are a common cosmetic surgery and usually have high satisfaction rates. However, it’s important that you’re in good general physical and mental health and to consider all the risks and of having facelift surgery. Be sure to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss all of your wants, needs and concerns. Together you’ll decide on the type of surgery that works best for you and your goals.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/24/2021.
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