Facelift Procedure Guide: What’s right for you?
If you’ve seen all the facelift (rhytidectomy) “names” out there, you may be unsure of what facelift procedure is uniquely right for you.
We are going to help you, starting with the answer that there is no “one size fits all” facelift. In this guide, we’ll explain why, as well as share the procedure names and terminology that you’ve likely come across in your initial research.
As part of the largest and most trusted plastic surgery center in Northern New England, our Plastic + Hand surgeons have successfully completed the most facelifts in the region. While our Plastic + Hand team has the most qualified facelift and neck lift surgeons in Maine, this procedure is all about you.
We look forward to discussing your specific concerns once you book your consultation. In the meantime, let’s help you determine if a facelift is right for you.
Are you a candidate for a facelift?
Most healthy people over 40 years old who are dissatisfied with the appearance of their aging face (i.e., loss of elasticity and volume; sagging skin; drooping jowls) are candidates for a facelift. A facelift is most effective on people whose skin has some elasticity and who have well-defined bones.
Facial volume loss is a hallmark of aging. In restoring this youthful volume and appearance, some people often look to excessive fillers in attempts to do this. But, they can be disappointed in these unnatural-looking results.
While a facelift alone can only restore the natural youthful structure to your face, it can also restore the youthful volume to your face when it’s paired with structural fat grafting. Read much more about this in our Facelifts and Face Volume Guide.
What are the different facelift procedures?
There are many facelift “names” and terms out there including:
Traditional facelift (with or without a neck lift)
During a traditional facelift, your surgeon will remove excess fat, tighten underlying muscles, and re-drape the skin of your face.
MACS Lift (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension)
Using innovative soft tissue suspension techniques resulting in short scars, this is ideal for people that don’t have too much excess skin. The MACS Lift uses purse string suspension suturing to the deep temporal fascia with an incision that runs from the temporal hairline to the earlobe.
SMAS (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) facelift
This procedure refers to correcting the sagging appearance of the neck and the lower two-thirds of the face.
Mini-facelift procedure (with limited incisions)
Ideal for younger patients with early signs of aging, or for people who want a subtle effect, this mini-facelift provides a fresher and more youthful look without a radical change. It does not reverse sagging skin at the neckline.
If you have a neck lift (often in conjunction with your facelift), your surgeon will make a small, discreet incision underneath your chin. This incision allows your surgeon to remove extra fat and tighten the loose muscles in your neck.
It’s important to note that neck lifts are also extremely popular in the male population. Our Plastic + Hand surgeons are skilled at restoring the youthful structure to a man’s face without feminizing the natural features.
There’s also terminology for a full facelift, lower facelift, and a mid-face lift, and you are welcome to watch these 3-D surgery animation videos on our website.
While it can seem initially confusing about all these “types” of facelifts, we are the leaders in facelift procedures, and it’s less about the facelift “name.” It’s all about you, including your unique makeup and your concerns. No single facelift procedure will work with everyone, so we start by listening.
Ultimately, the facelift procedure that is best for you, all depends on you. During your first consultation with your Plastic + Hand surgeon, you will discuss specifically where you would like to see improvement (i.e., jowls, neckline, neck banding, eyelids).
Depending on the degree of change you’d like to see, your surgeon will recommend the best facelift procedure that will provide the best results for your desired outcome. This may also include structural fat grafting and/or skin resurfacing in your facelift procedure.
How a facelift works
With training from some of the top medical centers in the U.S. (including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCSF, Mayo Clinic), Plastic + Hand surgeons have the depth of experience and skills necessary to perform your facelift and/or neck lift safely and successfully in the comfort of our accredited outpatient Plastic + Hand Surgery Center located on-site here in Portland, Maine.
Before facelift surgery, you and your surgeon will review the procedure and expected outcomes. On surgery day, your surgeon will draw the decision guidelines on your face and/or neck, and you will be placed under general anesthesia.
During the facelift surgery, your surgeon will remove excess fat, tighten underlying muscles, and re-drape the skin of your face. While there are many facelift techniques we just outlined, this surgery generally involves making an incision that is hidden in the natural contour of each ear, then extends around the earlobe and back into the hairline, minimizing visible scars.
Through these incisions, your plastic surgeon separates the skin from the underlying tissues, pulls the skin up and back, removes the extra skin and fat, and tightens the muscles. Your surgeon will also reposition the deeper tissue for a more thorough lift, improving the jowl region.
The actual facelift surgery will take about 2 to 4 hours, depending on how many areas of the face are involved. You will recover in the recovery room where your progress will be monitored and most discomfort you’ll feel can be controlled with medication. After a few hours, a friend or relative can drive you home.
What facelift recovery is like
As with any surgery, there is short-term post-op recovery and longer-term healing.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll receive specific post-op instructions, but here are some general recovery details:
- Post-surgery, you’ll have bandages on your face, and you’ll be placed into a (surgeon-provided) face bra to provide support and comfort, manage swelling, and help your skin adapt to its new contour. You will likely have drainage tubes to reduce swelling (removed at your first post-op appointment) and your surgeon will advise on next steps for your sutures.
- While your priority is rest, you should take short walks to promote good blood circulation. You will use two pillows at bedtime and keep your head elevated. You should also not bend forward from the waist during this time.
- Swelling and bruising is expected and normal. It may take several weeks for the swelling to go down and up to six months for incision lines to fade. These lines can be concealed by your hair or with makeup.
- Typically, you can resume most sedentary activities at 2 weeks and work your way up to your usual activity by 9 weeks, but please discuss specifics with your surgeon.
For a much deeper look into recovery, please visit our Facelift Recovery Guide.
When you’ll see final facelift results
Before surgery, your surgeon will help you visualize your facelift outcome and agreement on realistic post-op outcomes. If you’d like to see some facelift before and after photos, it’s best to ask your surgeon during your consultation. This is the best opportunity to see (and discuss) the results that are specific to your upcoming procedure.
Shortly after surgery, you’ll get a good sense of how your face will look, but swelling is expected and normal for several weeks. Because the healing process is gradual, you may not see the final result for up to three months. It may also take up to six months for incision lines to fade, which can easily be concealed by your hair or makeup in the meantime.
A facelift is an important investment to protect, and we can help:
- As part of your Plastic + Hand facelift procedure, you will receive a free consultation with our skincare practice, Skin Solutions. You will learn about the treatments, products, and regime that are specifically tailored to bring out the best in your skin.
- If you’d like to maintain your youthful look with injectables, our Plastic + Hand team has the most qualified experts in facial aesthetics in Maine.
- We will provide tips and product recommendations for critical sun protection, briefly outlined in our Facelift Recovery Guide.
A facelift gives you a fresh and youthful appearance that you can enjoy for years. It’s important to note that no facelift can stop your face from aging indefinitely. Once your skin loosens and sags again, you might want to adjust your look with a secondary facelift procedure.
I’m ready to book my facelift or neck lift surgery; what’s next?
While there are many reasons to seek facelift and neck lift procedures (notably achieving a fresh, youthful appearance that you can enjoy for years), our leading facelift and neck lift surgeons in Portland, Maine, will work with you on realistic expectations prior to the surgery.
As part of the largest and most trusted plastic surgery center in Northern New England, our Plastic + Hand surgeons have successfully completed the most facelifts in the region.
We also want to take this moment and thank you for considering Plastic + Hand for your facelift or neck lift. Our work and our dedication is about you. We’re committed to providing the results you seek with the respect and compassion you deserve.
It’s time to discover the results you’ll love. The first step begins here. Call us at 207-775-3446, or submit this request form, to schedule your consultation with our Patient Care Coordinator to determine whether a facelift or neck lift is right for you.