Unfortunately, scientists have yet to find a way to halt the ravages of time and gravity on our faces. Thank goodness doctors have developed procedures to counteract them. A facelift corrects issues related to aging skin, such as wrinkles and extra sagging skin, most often found around the eyes, mouth, chin and jawline. Dr. Salermo’s goal, at Real Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery in Melbourne, is to restore the overall natural contours of your face.
How Does a Facelift Work?
Many people have a younger image of themselves, and a facelift is a way to turn that image into reality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t look as young as we feel. This type of cosmetic surgical procedure is officially called a rhytidectomy. The procedure lifts and firms deep facial tissues that are sagging on your cheeks and jawline, smooths deep folds of skin on your face, remove excess skin and correct other changes in your face that develop as you age. It is a safe, effective and long-lasting way to rejuvenate the appearance of your face. The results are usually expected to last about 10 years.
Why Have a Facelift
As we continue to age, the shape and appearance of our faces are altered, simply due to normal changes due to getting older. Aging skin loses its elasticity over time, making it looser, while fat deposits may increase in some areas of our faces and facial tissues might lose volume in others. Cosmetic surgery can reduce some of those age-related changes on your face, such as:
- Deep wrinkles
- Sagging appearance of your cheeks
- The excess skin at your lower jawline that turns into jowls
- The deep fold of skin that develops from the side of your nose to the corner of your mouth
A great many people associate facelifts with the concept of “turning back the clock”, and it’s true that they can give your face a naturally more youthful appearance. But this is not always due to vanity. Often, the way a people feel about their appearance can make them feel self-conscious to a point that it can negatively affect not only their self-esteem, but also their personal relationships or even their career. A significant number of patients are not trying to look younger, so much as simply wanting to look like a “better” version of themselves.
Before you commit to having surgery, it’s advisable to first consult with a surgeon, to discuss the specifics of your particular situation, and very likely have an exam.
You could be asked to provide the surgeon with your entire medical history, so it is probably a good idea to prepare this in advance. You may be expected to answer questions about any medical conditions you currently have, as well as any you’ve had in the past. The surgeon may be interested in any previous surgeries, including cosmetic surgeries and any complications that might have resulted from any of those surgeries. You may also have to detail any history of using tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
Since smoking inhibits the flow of blood to the skin, it can interfere somewhat with healing. So patients are usually requested to refrain from smoking at least a week or two before their surgery and at least two weeks afterward. Depending on your specific information, the surgeon may request records from any of your former or current doctors. And if there is any question about your ability to undergo surgery, it’s very possible that you may be required to see a specialist.
You are likely to be asked to provide a list of any and all medications you take on a regular basis, including their dosages and how often you take them. This is not limited to prescription drugs, you could also have to list any over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements, including herbal products. This is necessary in order to make sure that patients avoid any medication which can increase bleeding, including aspirin.
The surgeon could conduct a thorough facial exam, closely examining the quality of your skin, shape of your face, your bone structure and fat distribution in order to determine what your best options are for this type of surgery. Your face may be photographed from different angles, probably with close-ups taken of some of your features.
You may be asked exactly what you hope for and expect from the results of this surgery. The surgeon can explain what is possible to achieve, how your appearance could change and what the surgery won’t be able to address, such as any asymmetry that naturally occurs on your face. A face lift also won’t be able to fix most of the fine lines or crepe-y texture of your skin that comes with aging, but there are plenty of non-invasive methods that can help with those.
How to Prepare
Once you’ve scheduled a date for your surgery, there are a number of things you can do in order to prepare for it, some right before and some well in advance.
Your doctor can tell you which of your medications you can continue taking as before, and if there are any dosages that could be adjusted. You could be instructed if there are any medications to stop taking and exactly when to discontinue them. For instance, you may almost certainly have to discontinue any medications or supplements that are blood-thinners at least two weeks before your surgery is scheduled. It is absolutely vital that you explicitly follow all instructions regarding your medications.
It is possible for this procedure to be done on an outpatient basis. In that case, it’s best to arrange for someone not only to take you home after your surgery, but also to stay with you through that first night afterward.
Before surgery, you may want to make sure that your home is stocked with anything you might need for a few days, in case you don’t want to go out. Also, it is recommended that you avoid perming, bleaching or even coloring your hair for at least six weeks after a facelift. So you may want to take care of any of that beforehand.
You could be required to wash your face and hair with some type of germicidal soap before your surgery. It’s very likely that you may be requested not to eat anything after midnight the night before, as well, although you may have water. Your surgeon can let you know if there are any medications you can take that day.
What Happens During the Procedure?
This type of cosmetic surgery can be performed in an outpatient surgical facility, as well as a hospital. A facelift usually takes anywhere from two to four hours. However, it’s possible to have other procedures done at the same time, which could take longer. Basically, though, it consists of three steps.
Your surgeon may recommend the best choice of anesthesia to be administered during the procedure for your comfort. General anaesthesia would render you completely unconscious, and is often the first choice of both doctors and patients. However, in cases where a general anaesthetic is not medically advisable for the patient, it is often possible to use a combination of local anaesthesia and intravenous sedation during the procedure. The local anaesthetic causes numbness in the area undergoing the procedure, and the sedative helps the patient to relax during the operation and means they are unlikely to remember anything about it afterwards.
First, incisions are made. They usually begin in your hairline at the temples, continue downward in front of your ears to your lower scalp behind them. Your skin can then be elevated so that the surgeon can lift and tighten the underlying muscles and deep facial tissues. Some of the fat in your face may be redistributed, removed or even sculpted. Then your facial skin can be draped back over the new uplifted contours of your face.
At that point, any excess skin would be trimmed off. The incisions can be closed in a variety of ways. If sutures are used, depending on which your surgeon prefers, they may be removed a few days later, or they may dissolve on their own. Skin adhesives may be used instead instead of stitches or sutures. When surgical glue is applied along the incision line, it acts a vasocontrictor, meaning it could close blood vessels. The sealant can cause the bleeding to stop and seal the incision, then your body can dispose of it. It is believed that this technique can reduce bruising and improve recovery time.
There can be some bruising and swelling immediately after the surgery, but it starts to get better within about two days, and is practically unnoticeable after 10 to 14 days. That’s when you could really be able to see the extent of your results. Your surgeon can tell you when you may cover your face up with makeup, but most patients feel perfectly comfortable being seen in public several days after the surgery.
While everyone heals a bit differently, it’s common for patients to return to their normal activities about two weeks after surgery, although it’s better to wait at least four weeks before doing anything strenuous. Your doctor can give you instructions with details about any aftercare required and what type of activity could be allowed at what point.
Your bandages will probably be changed the day after surgery. Two or three days later, you may be able to replace them with an elasticized facial sling. There are usually follow-up visits within the first week to assess your face, monitor your progress and remove stitches, if necessary. The doctor can also give you instructions on what to be careful about. A lot of it is probably common sense, such as avoiding excess pressure and motion around the incisions, protecting them from sunlight and don’t wear too many clothes that pull over your head.
A lot of people like to have additional procedures done at the same time as their facelift, to maximize the effect and also to keep recovery time to a minimum. Eye lifts, brow lifts and neck lifts are big favorites.
Turn Back Time
The results you achieve with a facelift can not only look natural now, but also age very naturally as you do. If you choose to have one, you can be back to your normal routine within a matter of weeks, and you can count on us to be there for you the entire time. Contact Real Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery in Melbourne to schedule an appointment, so we can discuss the details that can best suit your needs.