The facelift (also known as a "rhytidectomy") is a very popular plastic surgery option among men and women seeking a more youthful appearance for their face and neck. The facelift can be performed as an out-patient or an in-patient procedure, and basically involves removing excess facial skin, with or without tightening the underlying tissues, and re-draping the remaining skin on the face and neck. The desired result is a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and the uncovering of younger, healthier-looking skin. Unfortunately, the facelift cannot reverse the effects of aging altogether and the procedure should be seen as a temporary solution only.
The Out-Patient Option
Facelifts can be performed on an out-patient basis in a plastic surgeon's office, or in an out-patient surgery facility, under local anesthetic. This allows patients to avoid general anesthetic, which always brings with it a certain set of risks, and requires a stay of at least one night in hospital. A facelift out-patient, on the other hand, can go home on the same day as the operation is performed (barring any complications) to recover in private. In addition to the local anesthetic, the out-patient is usually given a strong sedative, so not only is he unable to feel any pain, he will also be very drowsy and relaxed during the procedure.
To be a good candidate for either an out-patient or an in-patient facelift, you need to be in good health generally. Your plastic surgeon will want to take a full medical history from you (including whether or not you smoke and drink alcohol - and for your own safety, you should be honest) before deciding how to carry out your facelift.
Plastic surgeons have been working hard in recent years to perfect a super-quick out-patient facelift procedure. Some surgeons have now managed to perform facelifts under local anesthetic in less than two hours. (Bear in mind that a conventional in-patient procedure may require five to eight hours of general anesthetic.) Proponents of the "quickie" procedure say they have achieved results comparable to those of lengthier, in-patient procedures, and that these facial improvements have lasted 10 years or more.
Before an out-patient facelift procedure, your best source of essential information is your plastic surgeon, and you should discuss with him, in detail, what you need to do to get ready. Some general tips include:
- Ask about drinking alcohol, smoking and taking medication prior to the procedure. (You will probably be told to quit smoking a few weeks before the operation. Smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin and may therefore slow down the healing process).
- If your hair is very short, consider growing it in order to hide your scars while you are healing.
- Arrange to have someone pick you up and drive you home after the operation. You will not be fit to drive yourself and public transport is not a safe option in your state.
- Arrange to have someone call over and help you around the house for the first few days following the operation.
- Ask your plastic surgeon about equipment you might need for your recovery (painkilling medication, bandages, etc., and make sure you stock up on these before the procedure).
- Plan to take it easy for a few days after the operation. Arrange to take a week or so off work.
Recovery from a facelift procedure will usually take two to three weeks. You are likely to experience some swelling, numbing and bruising (after the initial healing of the scars, the bruising can be covered with special camouflage make-up). Your discomfort is likely to be mild, and can be relieved by pain-killing medications. You'll probably be able to take off any bandages within one to five days of the procedure and have your stitches taken out after one week. Most people return to work after approximately two weeks. Light exercise is allowed after one week, but strenuous activity should be avoided until at least two weeks after the operation. Remember that each patient is different and the speed of your recovery will depend on your general health and the amount of work you have done.