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Facelift Surgery - The Benefits And The Risks

Oct 18, 2007
The last and most pronounced signs of aging occur in the lower face and neck. Gravity wipes joy and youth out of the face and makes you appear older than you feel. The underlying muscles in the face and neck weaken and sag; excess fat accumulates in the neck; and jowls, laugh lines, and sagging "turkey-neck" skin form. Because excess skin must be removed to correct these particular signs of aging, the endoscopic technique is not used.

Rhytidectomy procedure, or traditional facelift, smoothes and tightens the skin of the lower face and neck, reduces jowls, and tightens the underlying neck muscles. In fact, Face Lift surgery can be done as early as your mid forties can significantly slow the aging process in the lower region of the face.

Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet before surgery. A healthy diet will help speed recovery. Also plan ahead and prepare nutritious meals that are easy to warm up so that you won't need to spend too much time in the kitchen during your recovery.

If you smoke, abstain from smoking for at least six weeks before and after surgery. This reduces the risk of infection and encourages faster healing.
Do not take any medicines containing aspirin or ibuprofen during the two weeks preceding surgery.
Do not eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery.
Be certain you do not have a cold or sunburn the day of surgery.
Do not wear make-up or contact lenses to surgery.
Arrange to have someone take you home after surgery and, if possible, help you around the house for a few days while you recover.

A facelift usually takes two or more hours, depending on the extent of the procedure. For extensive procedures, some surgeons may schedule two separate sessions.

The incision line is hidden in the scalp. It starts at the temples and continues around and behind each ear. The incisions are made without clipping or shaving hair at the incision site.

The skin is raised from the temples, cheeks, and neck and the underlying connective tissue is lifted and repositioned. Excess fat and skin are removed.
The surgeon redrapes the skin over the new underlying structure and closes the incisions with stitches and small metal clips. Bandages are applied.

If necessary a drainage tube will be inserted.
If the neck muscles are tightened, a small incision is made underneath the chin. The muscles are drawn together and stitched together at the midline forming a strong sling of muscles that supports the entire neck and jaw.

What to expect
After the procedure is over, patients may experience some numbness, bruising, swelling or discomfort at the incision site. This is normal and will pass with time. Incision site pain is usually minimal and can be controlled with medication, if necessary. Keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery to reduce swelling.

Within one to five days, bandages and drainage tubes are usually removed. The skin on your face and underneath the hairline will be tender during the first few days, so be careful not to pull your hair. You should be up and about after two days, but should continue to take it easy and avoid vigorous activity for at least two weeks.

Stitches are removed after about five days, except for the stitches and metal clips in the hairline, which may be left in a few days longer. Bruising may persist for two to three weeks, but can be covered with special camouflage make-up. Because you have undergone invasive surgery, you'll probably have less energy for the first two weeks.

By the third week, you'll look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work by about two weeks after surgery. It is important to get plenty of rest and allow your body to heal.

As with any surgery there is a slight risk of infection. Other possible complications include hematoma, nerve damage (usually temporary), and reactions to the anesthesia. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon's advice both before and after surgery.
About the Author
Dave Stringham is the President of LookingYourBest.com an online resource for plastic surgery procedures. Learn more about facelift surgery and other plastic surgery procedures.
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