Indications for a face-lift include sagging facial skin and jowls and loose neck skin. The usual candidates are men and women over the age of 40 years. Performed on patients under either general or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation, the procedure takes several hours. The setting may be an outpatient surgical facility, with or without aftercare services, or at a hospital. (Patients undergoing combined procedures or those who have medical conditions that warrant it may require brief hospitalization.)
Patients should expect to experience temporary bruising and swelling. The facial skin may feel numb and tender, as well as dry. Typically, the patient will have a "tight" sensation in the face and neck. Risks include bleeding, infection, excessive scarring, asymmetry and an undesirable hairline change. Occasionally, injury to the nerves controlling facial muscles and temporary numbness occur. When injury does happen, it usually resolves, but on rare occasions, it is permanent. Poor healing is another possible risk.
After a face-lift, the patient generally can resume work in 10 to 14 days and more strenuous activities within two to six weeks. Sun exposure should be limited for several months, and the patient should always use sunscreen. The effects of a face-lift typically endure for five to 10 years. One special consideration for men: the procedure results in repositioning beard-growing skin behind the ears, so after a face-lift, it will be necessary to shave the area behind the ear or seek hair removal treatment.
A face-lift may be done in conjunction with other procedures, such as eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), chin augmentation, forehead or brow-lift and skin rejuvenation procedures such as dermabrasion, laser peel or chemical peel.