Everything you need to know about facelifts

Everything you need to know about facelifts

Dr. Stephen Mulholland, one of Canada’s most respected and recognized plastic surgeons, answers your most commonly asked questions about facelifts.

How do I know if I am a candidate for a facelift?

Most facelift candidates have some loose skin and soft tissue of the cheek, jawline and/or neck. This can occur at any age, but typically it is most noticeable in your late 40s, 50s and 60s. Try standing in front of the mirror and repositioning your facial skin backwards, pulling it slightly tighter. If your face looks better when you do this, then you are a candidate.

Can I do just the neck area and not a full facelift?

A properly trained facelift specialist can offer you an isolated mini lift of only the neck, jawline, cheek and/or brow.

Will a facelift improve the deep crease from my nose to the corner of my mouth?

In general, most facelifts do not improve those smile lines, also known as nasolabial folds. Pulling too tight will correct them, but will leave you looking “over pulled.” Generally, a facelift combined with other techniques such as soft tissue fillers or fat grafting is the answer to treat deep smile lines.

Can I do other procedures at the same time?

Facelifts can be combined with other procedures such as soft tissue fillers, Botox and lasers/energy-based treatments for fine wrinkle reduction and colour correction. They can also be combined with upper and lower eyelid surgery and brow repositioning, lip lift, lip augmentation and/or browlift surgery.

What is the recovery like? How much time do I have to take off from work?

In general, it is better to take more time than you think you’ll need, but a minimum of two weeks is usually required following a facelift. Three to four weeks are needed if additional procedures such as upper and lower lid surgery, laser skin treatment and/or soft tissue fillers are used.

Will it hurt?

Facelift surgery is generally not noted to be terribly painful when compared to breast augmentation, abdominoplasty and even liposuction. But a modest amount of discomfort should be expected and can often be treated with non-narcotic, anti-inflammatory medication.

How long do the results last? Do I have to re-do it?

The longevity of facelift results are dependent upon many patient factors, such as smoking, lifestyle, sun exposure, weight loss, weight gain and the hereditary quality of your collagen. In general, most patients are very happy with their facelifts for the first seven to eight years and are considering a “mini” facelift enhancement “re-do” between the eighth to the tenth year.

What kind of anesthetic is used? Do I have to“go under?”

Most skilled and experienced facelift surgeons will offer their patients facelift procedures under local anesthesia and light oral sedation. A full general anesthetic is often not required and may add to the risk profile of the procedure, IV sedation (like during colonoscopy) can also be offered. I perform well over 100 lifts per year and 80 percent of those are performed easily (with patients remembering) under local anesthesia.

Will I have noticeable scars?

All facelifts require scars, however an expert, experienced, facelift surgeon will hide the scars both inside and behind your ears. Successfully executed facelift scars are imperceptible. Even if your hair is up, you are coming out of the water, or if it is a windy day, your incisions will not be visible. Even bald men can undergo a “guy lift” with no visible scars.

Does it take place in a hospital? How long do I have to stay after surgery?

Most facelifts are now performed by board-certified, plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons in government-approved and private surgical centres. Most facelift surgeons will insist that you stay overnight the first night to be better monitored and cared for in the early post-op period.

Will I look “done up?”

A well-performed, modern facelift looks very natural, fresh and youthful. Friends and family will commonly remark that you look like you have been away on a good vacation, have lost weight or have been working out.

How long does the procedure take?

Depending on the number of combined procedures performed and the extent of the aging issues, most facelifts will take between two to four hours to complete.

How long until I see the final results?

Most patients require three weeks to recover to the point where the facelift looks satisfactory and the face is presentable in public, with an excuse of “having just had some dental work” (for the minor jawline swelling). The final results (where you can attend social events and where people will think you just look good), are generally 12 weeks or more after your facelift.

Dr. Stephen Mulholland is a board-certified plastic surgeon with dual training in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Oncology and Craniofacial Trauma. Dr. Mulholland is one of Canada’s most respected and recognized plastic surgeons, known as an excellent facelift and rhinoplasty surgeon and innovator of cutting-edge procedures. He is a recognized expert and has taught aesthetic procedures to over 10,000 physicians in the U.S., Canada and internationally, at workshops he hosts all over the world.


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