Facelifts are one of the most requested surgeries in the practice of Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. There is so much attention today on looking fit and young as those over forty start noticing signs of aging coming on them. The desire to make a great first impression or to look younger than our same-age counterparts accounts for a large portion of the reason for desiring a facelift.
When facelifts first became popular, there was really only one way to achieve the desired results. It was a very involved surgery that actually required lifting off the skin, stretching out the wrinkles, removing the excess, and reattaching. This required making an incision just above the ear inside the hairline. This incision actually surrounds the ear. It goes down the front edge of the ear and continues around the earlobe. From there, it makes a complete circle up and behind the ear to the hairline incision.
The skin of the face is then separated from the supporting tissue. This process continues into the cheek area, the neck, and below the chin. Underlying muscles are then tightened to prevent the return of the sagging skin. The excess skin is trimmed off, the skin is pulled back, and then the skin is secured in its tightened condition with staples or sutures. Now the surgery is enhanced with the use of liposuction to remove excess fat in the cheeks or neck area.
In addition to the surgical facelift that requires general anesthesia and a lengthy recovery time, there are many options that are much less invasive. One of these methods is called thermage. This is a process of using non-invasive radiofrequency technology to tighten the loose skin, particularly around the eyes. It works by actually shrinking the skin by promoting collagen contraction. This is not effective as a total facelift, but is a great way to get rid of wrinkles around the eyes and on the forehead.
Mini facelifts are also very popular. This is similar to a full-blown facelift except the incision is only around the ear and does not extend up into the hairline. There is also a small incision made under the chin. The post-surgery bandaging is minimal compared to the more extensive surgery. The time of recovery is much less than that of the full-incision surgery.
Surgical facelifts are often delayed by the use of Botox injections to reduce wrinkles. This is a quick and relatively painless way to temporarily get rid of brow lines, crow’s feet, and other types of wrinkles. This is, however, not a permanent fix. It usually has to be repeated from three to six months in order to maintain the effect.
Collagen injections are another alternative to facelifts. This is used as a filler to make the creases level with the surrounding skin. This is sometimes used in conjunction with dermabrasion, or laser resurfacing. Depending on the amount of excess skin and the condition of the skin, laser resurfacing can provide the same general results as an invasive surgical facelift.
None of the procedures for facelifts are without risks. The intensity of risks varies with the extent and type of surgery. Any time the continuance of the skin is compromised, there is a risk of infection. Just as the risks vary, so does the recovery time. Results will also vary depending on the procedure chosen, the overall condition of the skin and muscle tissue, and the age. Before considering any procedure, make sure the physician is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to do the specific procedure.