The appeal of a facelift is easy to understand. As time passes, loose skin, sagging and fat deposits transform the strong V shape commonly seen in younger faces into more of a W shape. During a facelift, or rhytidectomy, a skilled plastic surgeon removes this excess skin and any extraneous fat and tightens the underlying muscles. With the right surgical strategies, a plastic surgeon sculpts the face, erasing the years and creating a firmer, natural looking appearance that can make a patient seem a decade younger.
But, like any surgical procedure, there are certain inherent risks in having a facelift. Asking the surgeon questions before the procedure is the best way to understand and minimize these risks. Before committing to any facelift surgery, savvy patients will ask questions regarding:
The surgeon’s personal experience
- Are there before and after pictures of patients who have had similar work done available for viewing?
- Are you certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties?
- Do you have hospital privileges at a local facility?
- How much experience do you have with performing facelifts? How many of this type of procedure did you complete during the last year?
- What percentage of your patients develop complications?
- What kinds of complications appear most frequently? What treatment do these complications require?
- How often is it necessary to conduct a reoperation? What complaint is most likely to trigger a reoperation?
A facelift’s impact on general health
- What factors make a patient a good candidate for a facelift? Am I a good candidate?
- Is it safe for someone who has had skin cancer to have a facelift?
- Does a facelift create an increased risk of any health issue?
- What are the long-term consequences of a facelift?
- What will my face feel like after a facelift?
- Are there other products or procedures that would be an alternative to a facelift?
- Are there any potential problems I should be aware of? What signs or symptoms should I watch out for?
The actual facelift surgery
- Will my surgery take place in a hospital or a surgical center? Is the facility licensed or accredited?
- If my operation is scheduled for a surgical center, are there provisions for a hospital admission if it becomes necessary?
- What kind of anesthesia will be required? Who will be responsible for administering it? What risks does this type of anesthesia present?
- How much time should it take to perform my surgery?
- Which incision technique are you recommending? Why?
- Will there be any additional procedures like a brow lift or eyelid surgery performed during the course of the operation? Will injectable fillers or cosmetic peels accompany the operation?
- How much time should I expect to spend in the recovery room after my surgery? Who will monitor me while I’m in the recovery room? When will I be released to go home?
The recovery from facelift surgery
- Will my face be bandaged when I’m sent home? How long will I need to wear these dressings? Will I be able to remove any bandages myself?
- Will I have stitches? When will they be removed?
- How much pain is normal after a facelift? How long will it last? Will you prescribe medication to control it?
- How much swelling is normal? How long will it take to go away?
- How long before I’m physically able to resume my normal activities?
- Will I have scars? Where will they be located? How visible will they be?
- Will I need a follow up appointment? When?
Life after a facelift
- How long before my face looks normal? When will I be able to see the final result of the facelift?
- How long before facial sensation returns to normal?
- How long does a facelift last? How will my face look over time?
- Will having a facelift make me more sensitive to the sun?
- What do I need to do to maintain my results?
- Will I need more surgery in the future?
- What can I do if I don’t like the results of my facelift?
While contemplating a surgery’s details may be a little unnerving, it is reassuring to know that your plastic surgeon has the answers to these questions and is ready to guide his patient through the procedure. In fact, selecting an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon who has performed facelifts frequently is an effective way to both maximize the procedure’s potential benefits and minimize any risk.