Dr. Mitchell E. Blum is a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Here the Doctor has answered some of the common questions bizymoms visitors have about Facelift.
Q. What is a facelift?
A. The goal of a facelift is to improve the overall facial appearance. The operation is meant to correct laxity of the lower one third of the face and of the neck. A facelift is a surgical procedure which requires one to two weeks of recovery time. Incisions are made in the area of the temple hair, just above the front of the ear, and then continue around the lobe, circling the ear and ending in the hair line behind the upper 1/3 of the ear.. The skin is raised outward before the surgeon re-positions and tightens the underlying muscle and connective tissue. Some fat may be removed as well as excess skin.
Q. What are the benefits of a facelift procedure?
A. The benefits of surgery are to turn back the clock on the aging process from 10 to 20 years. The result depends very much on the patient's underlying bony structure (i.e., what the individual looked like at a younger age).
Q. Are there significant risks associated with facelift surgery?
A. As with any surgical procedure, bleeding, swelling, infection, and unexpected consequences can occur. Generally, the complication rate for this procedure is very low. The most common problems are excessive bruising and persistence of some of the sequelae of aging. Wound breakdown and infection can occur infrequently. Asymmetries, although frequently improved, can be persistent from side to side. Deformity of the ear lobes can occur. Numbness of the ears is common for a period of time after the surgery, but this problem is rarely permanent. Another uncommon risk is development of a large hematoma which would require drainage.
Q. Can I expect permanent results from a facelift?
A. Individual’s aging continues and in the average person, the results deteriorate at the same rate that the aging process has been effective in the patient previously. In other words, the average patient can expect to look 20 years younger. Some patients, with very lax skin and very little elasticity in the skin may have shorter-term benefits. The benefit of the procedure can be maintained with good lifestyle decisions. Not smoking, using sunscreens and avoiding excessive sun exposure, a healthy diet, and good skin care help the longevity of the process.
Q. Is there a common technique for facelift procedures?
A. There are a number of different techniques used in face lift surgery. The technique used most commonly in my practice is a short flap technique with SMAS plication. What this means is that only a small amount of skin is elevated and most of the lift provided by the operation is by tightening the underlying muscle plane. This gives the most natural and long-lasting results. An older technique that is still used, most commonly for large amounts of sagging of the neck and excess skin would be the long flap technique. In this technique, the skin is elevated from the ear to the anterior cheek and across the midline of the neck completely freeing a whole tunnel of skin. Some surgeons using this technique only pull the skin tight without working on the underlying muscular structure. Although this can give an adequate initial improvement in appearance, it is not a technique that has a long life. The long flap technique can be combined with a muscle tightening procedure (SMAS plication) to give a more long-lasting result. There are other lesser techniques that are generally ineffective over the long term. If one hears the term "mini lift", one should ask whether this includes muscle tightening. If it does not, it is not a good technique. For a short period of time in the past 10 years, a technique called the "string lift" was promoted. This is a totally ineffective procedure.
Q. Is a facelift performed under general anesthesia?
A. In my practice, the procedure is done with oral sedation and local anesthesia. In the past, I have used intravenous sedation. Only on very rare occasions has general anesthesia been used.
Q. How do I find a qualified surgeon in my area?
A. To find a qualified surgeon in your area I would go to the web site http://www.abfprs.org/ <http://www.abfprs.org/> . From this site, you can find board-certified facial plastic surgeons. Board certification in this field is an important part of choosing a surgeon to do this procedure. Many general plastic surgeons also perform these procedures, but many general plastic surgeons are more qualified to do body liposuction or breast work than facial work One should interview their prospective surgeon to make sure they have adequate experience.