May 30, 2023

What to know about the facelift procedure

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A facelift (technically called a rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgical procedure that is meant to rejuvenate your skin and help give you a more youthful appearance.  As we age, skin and tissues naturally lose their elasticity which can lead to sagging and wrinkles. A facelift lifts and tightens these facial tissues, removes excess skin and smooths out any folds or wrinkles.  Facelifts usually address the lower two-thirds of the face such as saggy skin under the chin, cheeks and jowls.  If you’re considering having a facelift you may be wondering what to expect from the procedure, the types of incisions used and how long it may take to recover.  In this post, we’ll be discussing the several steps of the facelift procedure.


A facelift is performed in an operating room under deep sedation aka TIVA – Total Intravenous Anesthesia. This anesthetic is meant to block pain and relax the muscles. The patient is often completely asleep during the procedure, which may take anywhere from 2-5 hours, depending on the individual and type of facelift.

The Incision

During the procedure, your surgeon will be making small incisions depending on the type of facelift.  For a traditional facelift, an incision is made in the hairline at the temples and continues around the ear to the lower scalp behind the ears.  Any fat and excess skin may be removed or redistributed. The underlying muscle and connective tissue will also be redistributed and tightened.

A “mini” facelift may be performed if there’s less skin sagging, and involves shorter incisions.

If a neck lift is also going to be performed, a second incision under the chin will be necessary.

Closing the Incision

The incisions are closed with sutures or skin adhesives.  You may need to return to have the sutures removed but sometimes dissolvable sutures are used.  The incisions are made so that they are well concealed within the hairline.

You may have a surgical drainage tube after the surgery, and there will be bandages wrapping your face.


You will likely experience some swelling and bruising that will peak within the first week after surgery but may last for a month or more in some cases.  Your doctor will give instructions on how to care for the surgical site and drains, and prescribe medication to manage any pain.  For the first few days after your facelift you should plan on taking it easy and getting lots of rest.  You will have a follow up appointment with your doctor to change or remove your bandages and address any concerns.  Towards the two week mark you should be feeling much more like yourself and can expect mostly a full recovery within a month.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of any surgery and it can help to know the procedure.  Make sure to talk to your doctor about the right procedure for you.  Your final outcome will restore a more youthful and vibrant appearance and help you feel more confident!

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