The Truth About Facelifts
Commonly performed procedure results in little discomfort or scarring
Many people, perhaps influenced by dramatic representations of the procedure on television, perceive that facelifts are difficult and painful and result in obvious distortion.
For prospective patients, Dr. Alfredo Paredes of the Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic separates truth from misconceptions.
Facelifts involve tightening and removing excess facial skin, thus reversing some of the effects of time whose passage causes skin to drape and create folds and wrinkles.
The surgeon may also tighten muscles in the neck and cheeks to deal with jowls, address platysmal bands in the neck and cheeks that may be especially evident when people grimace or clench their teeth, and eliminate wattles — skin that dangles from the middle of the chin.
“We tighten skin from the cheekbone down to the mid-neck,” Paredes said. “The jawline and the jowls wind up being the center point.” A facelift does not include eyelids, brows or the forehead; they can be addressed with separate procedures.
“A common misconception is that your skin has to be pulled so tight that you look artificial or that your mouth is pulled halfway across your cheeks,” Paredes said.
“Oftentimes family members of the patient will comment how natural the results look. They may think that the patient got her hair done or changed her makeup.”
Facelifts are performed using anesthesia, which can
vary from light sedation to a deeper anesthetic, based on surgeon preference.
“Typically, patients experience less swelling than they expected and little pain,” Paredes has found. “Most do not take any pain medicines following the procedure. A modest amount of bruising may occur, but steps are taken before and after to minimize it.”
Social recovery occurs quickly. Paredes advises patients that it may be a week or two before they get back into society, but he has had patients who kept hair appointments just five days after a facelift.
The incision line runs through natural grooves in front of and behind the ear. Some surgeons extend the scar into the hairline, while others will go along the hairline to minimize hair removal.
“Six to 12 months later, scars are hardly visible,” Paredes pointed out. “The face has a robust blood supply that makes it heal remarkably well. Faces are very forgiving places to make an incision.”
The stigma associated with facelifts has vanished like a facial scar. Paredes is seeing facelift patients who are much younger than used to be customary, and he finds that people talk freely about their procedure.
Recovery is uncomplicated. Patients are asked to refrain from exercise for four to six weeks, sleep with their head propped up for a few days after the procedure and avoid the temptation to use heat or ice packs.
The procedure may be repeated, if desired.
“You start to age the day after surgery,” Paredes said. “If 10 years go by, you are going to see some recollecting of loose skin and wrinkles. But, we can reopen the original incision, redo the procedure and pull out a little more loose skin.”
Paredes prefers that people refrain from nicotine use for three months prior to surgery. Smokers, he said, are at a much higher risk for complications, including skin necrosis or infection.
Treatments such as peels, microneedling and laser therapies may be scheduled before or after a facelift to make the skin itself look better.
“Facelifts are performed every day all over the country,” Paredes said. “Countless people have been pleased with their results.”
Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic
2452 Mahan Drive, Suite 101 | (850) 877-2126 | TLHPlasticSurgery.com
Larry L. Harper, M.D. • Alfredo A. Paredes, Jr., M.D. • Jeffrey M. Rawlings, M.D. • Sue Anne Pearce, Licensed Esthetician