Dex Code

Full Facelift

What is a full facelift?

Also known as rhytidectomy, a full facelift is a procedure done to tighten loose skin on the neck and jaw line, as well as treat deep wrinkle lines in the face and corners of the mouth. It can be combined with other cosmetic procedures such as a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) to enhance the overall look of the face.

How is a full facelift done?

The patient is given a general anesthesia. Dr. Randall Barnett of the Alpine Plastic Surgery Clinic in Salt Lake City, UT specializes in this kind of surgery.

The procedure begins by making an incision starting from the temple area and goes around the front of your ears. The skin is then raised so that muscles and tissue beneath the skin can be tightened. Your plastic surgeon may remove some skin and fat, too. Next, the skin is draped over the face again and the incision is closed. The incision is usually made along the hairline to make the scar less visible after the procedure.

What preparations should I make before a full facelift?

Your surgeon may ask you to take the following precautions before undergoing the procedure:

  • Stop smoking. Smoking can seriously affect the flow of blood to the skin, resulting to more bruising and scarring following surgery.
  • Understand that a full facelift is ideally done if you are close to your normal weight or if you are slightly underweight. Significant weight loss after treatment may lead to further wrinkling of the treated area.
  • Avoid taking aspirin or other blood thinners as they can lead to excessive bleeding after the procedure.

What can I expect during full facelift surgery?

Usually, the procedure takes two to four hours to complete, depending on the extent of the treatment. Dr. Barnett prefers general anesthesia so the patient will not feel any discomfort during surgery. Once the surgery is done, a dressing is applied to the treated area to protect the incisions.

What can I expect after a full facelift?

The bandages on your face will be removed after one to two days. If a drainage tube is placed during surgery, it will also be taken out after one to two days. Stitches will be removed after 5 to 10 days.

Right after surgery, minimal pain may be present. Your doctor may prescribe you with pain medications to relieve the discomfort. Swelling and bruising can also be expected, but can be alleviated through the application of cold compresses and elevation of the head.

The face may feel stiff, but this is a normal result of the surgery and will fade over time. The skin will also feel numb and dry for a few months following surgery.

The patient may be asked to avoid smoking and even exposure to smoke two to four weeks following full facelift surgery. Smoke coming from tobacco can increase the possibility of tissue and skin death and delay the healing process. Furthermore, it can make scarring worse.

You may be able to return to your regular daily activities in two to three weeks.

What are the limitations of a full facelift?

A facelift can improve the look of the face and make it look healthier and younger. This can boost the patient’s confidence and greatly reduce anxiety that has built up over time.

Although a full facelift can “take years off” the face, it cannot reverse sun damage in one’s skin or remove all wrinkles and creases around the eyes, lips, and below the nose.

What risks should I look out for?

A full facelift may pose a variety of problems following treatment, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Anesthesia reactions
  • Nerve damage to the muscles of the face, leading to temporary facial paralysis
  • Hair loss
  • Tissue loss
  • Numbness around the face
  • Scarring
  • Pulmonary embolism, or blood clots forming in large veins and traveling to vital organs such as the heart and lungs, although this is uncommon

What instructions should I follow after a full facelift?

  1. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking aspirin because they can affect the healing process.
  2. Sleep upright during the night to help minimize swelling on the face. Washing the hair may already be allowed after three to four days.
  3. Avoid stooping down or bending since these activities can trigger blood to rush to the face, resulting to minor bleeding and discomfort.
  4. Makeup may be allowed but should not be applied over the incision site until it is fully healed, which is about two to three weeks after surgery.
  5. Hair coloring and perming may be used after four to six weeks, but it is best to consult your surgeon as this depends on the extent of the surgery.
  6. Avoid serious physical activities for about a month after the procedure.