An Introduction to Facelifts
Facial aging is similar to the movement of a glacier. It is the migration of facial fat over time, which drags the skin as it goes. The skin’s elasticity degrades over time as well, so it cannot resist the pull of gravity as it once did. This is what causes the deep folds surrounding your mouth and nose-those wide smile lines-and what causes the hollowing beneath your eyes, the jowls sagging from your jaw, and the excess skin in your neck. This is where Dr. Shapiro comes in.
An expertly crafted, truly beneficial facelift demands a mastery of the intricacies of facial anatomy, mature aesthetic vision, detailed procedural planning and execution, and a passion to provide each individual case the most outstanding result possible. Dr. Shapiro, of course, has all of these things. He is quoted as saying, “Face lift surgery is one of my personal favorites. Experience counts more in face lift surgery than any other type of cosmetic surgery.”
- The general facial structure is divided into thirds.
- The upper third of the face includes the eyebrows and forehead, which are addressed by a brow lift.
- The middle is considered the area of the eyes, including upper and lower eyelids as well as the areas just above and below. These are addressed by eyelid surgery, or blepharoplasty.
- The bottom third includes the facial area below the eyes including the cheeks, jawline, and neck. It is addressed by a facelift.
- Each patient is unique, and each procedure should be tailored depending upon patient desires, from extremely subtle changes to more profound improvements as described below.
This procedure works by elevating sagging tissue. It can address many effects of aging, including a lack of definition in the chin and neck, facial folds like marionette lines and nasolabial folds and jowls.
During the consultation for a rhytidectomy, Dr. Shapiro will review your medical history, discuss your goals and answer any questions you have about the procedure and recovery. You will have the chance to view before and after photos of previous Facelift patients. Dr. Shapiro will also discuss the expected outcome, the details of your procedure and techniques that will be used.
The Mini-Face Lift Procedure
A mini lift, also known as a cheeklift or a limited incision facelift, is ideal for younger patients with good skin elasticity and mild facial aging. Indicators of these criteria would include early cheek laxity or minimal jowls. The mini-facelift addresses the appearance of the cheeks but does not include the neck like a full lift does.
A mini-facelift is a minimally invasive, rather minor procedure with incisions placed inconspicuously along the inside of the ear cartilage. It can be performed under mild sedation in Dr. Shapiro’s office, and the patient can be discharged post-operation. This procedure involves three or more small incisions to remove excess fat and reposition tissue. It can reduce minor sagging of the neck and face by targeting the lower third of the face. The procedure typically takes 1-2 hours.
The Standard Rhytidectomy Procedure
A standard facelift, or rhytidectomy, is for patients with more advanced signs of aging. For most patients, the issues addressed with a standard rhytidectomy are sagging jowls, loose neck skin, and double-chins caused by excessive fat accumulation beneath the chin.
Contrary to popular belief, the standard procedure is not meant to pull the skin into place, as this means excessive tension and will lead to even more sagging because the skin will not be able to keep itself in place.
Dr. Shapiro’s Scottsdale facelift will never give you a “windswept” look by pulling the skin too tight. Instead, he will address the facial fat in combination with readjustment of the skin. With his attention to detail and professional care, you will not have a masked look to your face, a distorted hairline, or visible scars. Instead, you will get a natural looking result with as minimal scarring possible.
This procedure, called a SMAS facelift, is similar to the standard procedure because the skin is never pulled back. Instead, the underlying fat and musculature of the face is addressed for a thorough and natural result. This procedure results in rejuvenation of all of the layers of the face with tension directed away from the skin. It typically produces very long-lasting results.
The facial fat that have since migrated south are removed and restored to their natural environment, lifted atop the cheek bones. The result is a youthful and full facial contour. The jawline and neck are also cared for in the same manner.
It is often said that the surgeon’s signature is made of the scars that he leaves. In this case, Dr. Shapiro, a Scottsdale surgeon, is the invisible man. Because there is no tension on the skin with a contemporary face lift, the incisions heal inconspicuously with no obvious signs of the surgeon’s presence.
Before and After Photos
Dr. Shapiro has been performing rhytidectomy in the Scottsdale area since 1992. Viewing a surgeon’s before and after portfolio is an excellent way to judge the surgeon’s skills and experience and get an understanding of the results you can expect. Note that Dr. Shapiro’s results avoid the obvious “windswept” appearance and other tell-tale signs of surgery.
Preparing for Your Surgery
On the day of surgery, wear loose, comfortable clothing with a button-down shirt. Plan to have someone with you who can drive you home and stay with you for the first two days. Stopping smoking two weeks before surgery will promote better healing, proper recovery and the best results.
Facelift Surgery Recovery and Maintenance
Patients are generally asked to stay at the Paradise Valley Surgical Recovery Center overnight and will have their hair specially washed in the Scottsdale area office the next morning.
Sutures are removed within ten days of surgery. Patients can comfortably socialize about two weeks after surgery.
Minor bruising and swelling typically resolve in two to three weeks, although this varies by patient as some patients heal faster than others. Most patients feel well after a few days, but choose to stay out of public until these side effects resolve.
Avoid aspirin and anti-inflammatory medication for the first two weeks after surgery. Take any medication prescribed by Dr. Shapiro as instructed. Sleep with your head elevated for two weeks. You may apply cool compresses to your eyes to minimize swelling, but do not apply ice or anything very cold directly to your skin. Stay up as much as possible after returning home to decrease swelling, and avoid lifting anything heavy or bending for the first week.
The results of your procedure can last from seven to ten years. When maintenance is desired, it is often just tightening in the cheek area. You will continue to age after surgery, but you will still typically look five to ten years younger than you would have if you did not have the procedure.
Occasionally, further improvements can be made by using gentle liposuction to remove extra fat from the neck. In other cases, using fat injections will help restore youthful volume to the cheeks.
Other options include a total face rejuvenation, also called a complete or total lift. This procedure would address all three sections of the face at once for a balanced and natural result.
Every patient’s needs are different, and should be thoroughly addressed with Dr. Shapiro in his Scottsdale area office.
Are You a Candidate?
If you feel your face does not reflect your youthful spirit, you show signs of facial aging but still have some elasticity in your skin, or you feel like you do not look like yourself anymore, you may be a good candidate for this procedure. This surgery will not create a “new” you, but it can take years off of your appearance and improve many areas of the face while recontouring your neck and jawline.
Signs of aging that may make you a good candidate for this procedure include:
- Displaced or fallen facial volume
- Lines from the corners of the mouth to the chin (marionette lines)
- Deep creases from the nose to the corners of the mouth (nasolabial folds)
- Sagging skin in the midface
- Sagging or lost muscle tone in the lower face
There is no “right” age for this procedure, although the typical patient is in his or her 40s or 50s. An ideal candidate is in good physical health and near his or her ideal weight, a non-smoker, and free of any health conditions that may increase risks, such as high blood pressure. The ideal candidate will also have realistic expectations of the results of the procedure and is not taking medication that may increase risks. The best way to determine if you are a good candidate is to consult with an experienced facial plastic surgeon like Dr. Shapiro.
Cost of the Procedure
The cost of a facelift varies depending on the amount of skin laxity present as well as the type of lift you get, whether it is a full lift, mini-lift, limited incision lift or other type of procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will surgery last?
This procedure generally takes four to six hours to complete.
What can I expect during recovery?
Recovery from this surgery takes about two weeks, although it depends on the severity of the corrections. Swelling and bruising may occur, but this typically fades within two or three weeks. Most patients return to work within two weeks. Exercise and strenuous activity should be postponed for up to six weeks.
Are there risks?
As with any surgery, there are risks with a rhytidectomy. Potential complications include excessive bleeding, infection, hematoma, nerve injury and delayed healing.
How soon can I return to work?
Most patients return to work within 2 weeks of a rhytidectomy.
Will I have scars?
The facelift procedure will leave scars, but they will be well hidden and inconspicuous within the hairline and natural creases of the ears. Scars may appear red for the first four to six weeks before fading. It will take at least one year for scars to achieve their final appearance.