A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess fat, tighten muscles and redrape the skin of your face and neck, giving you a more youthful look. Most facelift patients are in their 40's, 50's and 60's, but Plastic Surgery Associates can also perform the procedure on men and women in their 70's and 80's. You may be a good candidate if you have a strong, well-defined bone structure and if your skin still has some elasticity.

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The Procedure

Where the incisions are made depends on your facial structure, but they usually start above the hairline at your temples, continue down in front of your ear and curve up behind your earlobe and to your lower scalp. If a necklift is part of the procedure, a small incision is usually made under your chin.

Once an incision is made, your surgeon will trim or suction the fat below the skin, tighten the muscle and membrane, then pull the skin back in place and remove the excess. The surgeon will close the incisions with stitches and may use metal clips on your scalp.

The surgery takes several hours to perform—longer if done in conjunction with other procedures.

What Can I Expect?

The discomfort after the surgery is usually minor and can be treated with prescribed pain medication. You should be ready for minimal activity in a day or two, but avoid strenuous activity the first two weeks after surgery. After about 10 to 14 days, though, you should be able to return to work.

Your bandages, if you have them, should be removed within a week, as should most of your stitches. You will probably experience some numbness of the skin for a few weeks or months, but that will disappear. There will be some scars, but these are usually concealed by your hair and will fade with time until nearly invisible.

What is the SMAS?

The SMAS, or Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System, is the thick connective tissue layer below the skin. By tightening the SMAS, patients achieve a more youthful appearance that lasts longer than other, skin-focused types of facelifts. Tightening the SMAS layer enhances a natural appearance and avoids the “pulled” look caused by excess tension on the skin.

What About My Neck?

Many patients are also unhappy with the appearance of their necks. As we age the skin and muscles of the neck weaken and can begin to hang. Neck lift surgery helps tighten the deeper layer of muscles and remove excess skin, giving a smoother, more angled neckline. Most patients have the neck lift performed with the facelift in order to achieve a more youthful appearance. In some instances, patients who have heavy necks with excess fat can be treated with liposuction alone to help contour the neck. These patients tend to be in their 30s and 40s and have good skin tone. Neck lift incisions are similar in location to facelift incisions and may include an incision underneath the chin and behind the ears. Recovery from a neck lift is essentially the same as for a facelift, with mild discomfort that usually subsides in a few days.

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