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Face and Neck Lift

A face-lift (rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgical procedure to create a younger, tighter appearance in your face. The procedure can reduce the sagging or folds of skin on the cheeks, reduce or eliminate the jowels, and generally tighten and smooth the wrinkles of your face that occur naturally with age. Often combined with a necklift for a consistent result.

What to expect from a face and neck lift

During a face-lift, a flap of skin on each side of the face is pulled back, and tissues below the skin are surgically altered to return the contour of the face to a more youthful shape. Before the flap is sutured closed, excess skin is removed.

A neck lift (platysmaplasty) is often done as part of a face-lift to reduce fat deposits and sagging skin on the neck.

A face-lift won't decrease fine creases or wrinkles in your skin or damage from sun exposure. Other cosmetic procedures can address the appearance or quality of the skin itself.

Surgical techniques used for face and neck lifts

The incisions for the procedure depend on the techniques that will be used and the patient's preferences. Options include:

• A traditional face-lift incision starts at your temples in the hairline, continues down and around the front of your ears and ends behind your ears in your lower scalp. An incision might be made under your chin to improve the appearance of your neck.

• A limited incision is a shorter incision that begins in your hairline just above your ear, wraps around the front of your ear, but does not extend all the way into the lower scalp.

• Neck lift incision starts in front of your earlobe and continues around your ear into your lower scalp. A small incision also is made under your chin.

A face-lift generally takes two to four hours but might take longer if other cosmetic procedures are done at the same time.

Post surgery and recovery

Your incisions will likely be covered with bandages that provide gentle pressure to minimize swelling and bruising. A small tube might be placed under the skin behind one or both of your ears to drain any excess blood or fluid.

In the first few days after surgery:

• Rest with your head elevated

• Take pain medication as recommended by your doctor

• Apply cool packs to the face to ease pain and reduce swelling

You will have several follow-up appointments scheduled during the next two months after surgery. They will include the following:

• The day after surgery, your surgeon will likely remove your drainage tube, apply antibiotic ointment to your incisions and place new bandages on your face.

• Two to three days after your face-lift, you may be able to switch from wearing bandages to wearing an elasticized facial sling.

Although rare, complications such as bleeding or accumulation of blood under the skin, development of malnutrition in the end tissues on the incision borders and loss of sensation in the face and neck skin, injury of some of the branches of the facial nerves and loss of mimics may occur.

A face-lift can give your face and neck a more youthful appearance. Face-lift results are not permanent. With age, the facial skin may begin to droop again. In general, a face-lift can be expected to last 10 years.