Facelift

For a truly dramatic improvement, a facelift at one of our San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose or other Northern California locations may be the answer. It is one of the most striking options for removing or reducing the appearance of wrinkles and sagging caused by age and environmental damage.

While a facelift won’t stop the aging process, it can help you turn back the clock on facial aging and achieve a firmer, fresher-looking face. Many patients say they look younger after surgery — a result that can last for years.

Am I a Candidate?

Although most people who undergo facelift surgery tend to be in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, the procedure can also be safely performed on those older and younger, too. Ideal patients are non-smoking people who are in generally good health and concerned by sagging, looseness, and laxity in the lower two-thirds of the face. To achieve optimal results, skin should still have some elasticity.

About the Procedure

A facelift is designed to reduce wrinkles and sagging skin on the face, under the chin, and along the jawline. During the procedure, a surgeon will make incisions around your ears and hairline to help reduce the appearance of scars. Your surgeon lifts your skin, tightens facial and neck muscles, and removes excess skin to help create a defined profile.

Occasionally, a facelift may be performed in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures such as an eyelid lift, laser skin resurfacing, forehead lift, or liposuction of the neck. During your consultation, you and your provider will discuss whether these options are likely to give you the results you’d like.

What Can I Expect From a Facelift?

It’s important to have realistic expectations when considering any elective surgery, especially a facelift. While the surgery may help you look younger and fresher, it can’t create a totally different look. A facelift won’t restore health or vitality, and it won’t affect the thickness of your skin or change its tone. It’s also important to understand that facelift surgery isn’t a “quick fix.” In some cases, it may take several months before the final results are ready to show off.

Your surgeon can help you understand what results you can expect and will advise you on how to prepare for the procedure as well as what you can do to prolong your results.

What Can I Expect Before and After Treatment?

Before Treatment

Before you have any treatment, you’ll have a consultation with a surgeon, who will go over your goals and evaluate your skin and facial structure. You’ll discuss the different options and whether you’re a candidate for the procedure. Your consultation is your chance to ask your doctor questions you have and to bring up concerns. You and your doctor should frankly discuss your expectations, the limitations and risks of surgery, and the recovery process. It’s a good idea to have a written list of questions to ask during your consultation, and writing down the answers can help you evaluate your options later.

Your surgeon will give you detailed and specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery. If you’re a smoker, you will be asked to quit. If you’re taking certain medications that may cause bleeding, you may be asked to stop taking them for a short period before surgery.

Your facelift will be done at one of our hospitals or an outpatient surgery center, and if you’ve elected to have other procedures at the same time, your surgery may last up to 5 hours. You can usually go home the same day as your surgery, but because the anesthesia will make you drowsy, you’ll need a trusted adult to drive you home.

You’ll be given medications and anesthesia to keep you comfortable during surgery. Many patients prefer general anesthesia for facelift, but some may be able to undergo the surgery using only local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. You and your surgeon will determine which anesthesia option is appropriate for you well before your surgery.

After Treatment

When the procedure is over, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where your surgical team can monitor you closely as you wake up. We’ll provide medication to reduce possible pain or discomfort during this time. You may have a bandage wrapped around your face and tubes beneath your skin to help drain excess fluid. These tubes are removed within a day or two, and your bandages are removed within 5 days of surgery. Most stitches are also removed at the 5-day mark, although stitches or metal clips in the hairline may be left in longer.

During the recuperation process, you may notice that your face feels stiff. The areas around your face and ears, especially where your incisions were made, may feel numb for several weeks. You may be told to keep your head elevated for a couple of days to reduce swelling, and you can also help minimize swelling with the strategic use of cold compresses.

There will be some scarring, but your surgeon will make the incisions in the natural contours of the ear, in the hairline, or beneath the chin so they’ll be less likely to show. They may even be unnoticeable.

How Long Is the Healing Process?

Most people are up and around 1 to 2 days after surgery, but it’s good to plan to take it easy for about a week after your facelift. Your surgeon will give you a better idea of when you can resume your normal activities. You may be advised to avoid strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks to avoid alcohol, steam baths, and saunas for several months. The healing process after facelift is gradual, and can take up to 6 months to fully complete. It may help to use makeup if you feel self-conscious about residual bruising. Your surgeon can recommend special brands that are intended to cover postsurgical discoloration.

Are There Any Risks?

As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with facelift. Although many patients do not experience the following complications, you should discuss each of them with your surgeon to help you understand the risks, potential complications, limitations, and consequences of facelift. Risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Damage to deeper structures of the face
  • Hair loss near incision sites
  • Delayed healing

Your surgeon will offer you a detailed description of these risks, as well as a review your individual risk profile, during your consultation.

I’m Interested! What’s My Next Step?

We’re ready to start planning your facelift when you are. Request your consultation at a Northern California Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services.