What is a facelift?
A facelift also known as a rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure to lift and tighten the skin of your face and its underlying tissues, giving a smoother, younger appearance. It often includes surgical work on the neck as well, and is ideal if you have sagging around the cheekbones or jaw line, deep wrinkles or excess skin and fat under your chin.
There are several varieties of facelift, including a Mid Facelift, a MACS (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension) Facelift and a SMAS (Superficial Musculo-Aponeurotic System) Facelift.
What’s involved in a facelift?
A standard SMAS facelift will take two to three hours and is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, although a MACS or Mini Facelift is often done under sedation and local anaesthetic. The technique varies depending on the areas to be tackled and the procedure opted for by you and your surgeon.
SMAS Facelift: An incision is made in the hairline at each temple, then down, around and behind your ears. Then the surgeon cuts under the underlying tough tissue (the superficial musculo-aponeurotic system or SMAS layer). This layer is lifted and tightened, sometimes by removing a portion and sometimes by folding the layer. The skin is also tightened towards the ears before excess skin is removed. By tightening the muscle layer as well as the skin, surgeons claim that this type of facelift gives a more natural and long-lasting look.
MACS Facelift: A smaller incision is made which doesn’t go behind the ears, and the SMAS layer is tightened and held in place with soluble sutures, avoiding any cutting beneath it. It’s a less complex surgery but results don’t tend to be as long-lasting as an SMAS facelift. The MACS Facelift is sometimes called a Short Scar Facelift, but although the scar doesn’t go so far around the ear, it’s possible that the scars in front of the ears can be more prominent, as skin is gathered into a smaller area.
Mid Facelift: The surgeon only works on the area under the eyes and around the cheekbones. Incisions may be made inside your lower eyelid or inside your mouth, and also at your hairline. The skin and tissue are then lifted and stitched to fix them in their new position.
How long will it take to recover from a facelift?
It’s important to spend as much time as possible sitting up after your surgery, as this will help to reduce any swelling. Your face will feel sore and tight, but not so painful that simple painkillers don’t ease the discomfort. You may have temporary wound drains and your head will usually be bandaged after surgery. If you have had a general anaesthetic, you will probably stay in hospital overnight.
The swelling and bruising should gradually subside within the next week or two, and if you have had traditional stitches these will need to be removed after several days. You should be able to return to work after around two weeks, although if your role involves strenuous activities, you should delay your return for another week or two.
The final result of a facelift may not be visible for 6 months or so, but the result is long-lasting. However your skin will continue to sag with age and a facelift cannot ‘cure’ this; some people may choose to have the procedure repeated 10 to 15 years later.
What are the risks and disadvantages of a facelift?
Besides the risks of a general anaesthetic or sedation, the main risks of a facelift are bleeding (both from the wound and under the skin) and infection. Your skin may also feel numb for several weeks, and this is quite common, but sometimes there may be nerve damage which can cause muscle weakness. Although this usually resolves within two months, sometimes it can be permanent.
Some patients may also lose skin or hair and be unhappy with the cosmetic results, either because they develop uneven pigmentation, or because the face appears asymmetrical.
How much does a facelift cost?
Fees for a mini or mid facelift start from around £4000, while the price of a full facelift can range between £4500 and £9000, with most clinics charging between £5300 and £6800.