Facelift procedures are performed to reduce the skin laxity along the jawline and under the chin. This can be done in any age group from the age of 40 onwards. The purpose of the procedure is not to change the facial animation or the smile, but to alleviate the heaviness that can be pronounced as aging progresses. The procedure takes approximately two hours. It can be done either under a general anesthetic or under conscious sedation. The patient should allow approximately two weeks to recover so that the sutures can be removed and the bruising and swelling can dissipate. The patient should anticipate six to eight weeks of some residual small amounts of swelling before they have fully recovered. The scars may take up to three to six months to mature.
Who is a Candidate?
Most patients requesting consultation for facelift feel that their facial features do not reflect their youthful spirit and energy level. Typically, they range in age from 40-65 and seek to improve their jaw line, neck contours and overall appearance of their face. This procedure addresses decreased elasticity and excess skin affected by gravity in addition to dimished volume and tone to the midface.
Preparation for Surgery
It is very important that Dr. Van Laeken is aware of the state of your general health prior to surgery. Please let her know of any allergies you have, medications, herbal supplements, or vitamins you are taking as well as the reasons for taking them. It is also important that you inform Dr. Van Laeken if you have a tendency for keloid scarring (thick, wide, or raised scars).
If you are a smoker we encourage you to quit prior to proceeding with a facelift. Smoking can interfere with the blood flow to the skin, and will inhibit the healing of the incisions.
Depending on your age as well as your general health pre-operative testing may be done, such as a blood test, an ECG, or an appointment with an opthalmologist if you are having eyelid surgery done at the same time as the facelift.
It is important that you avoid taking vitamin E, anti-inflammatories or aspirin products for 2 weeks prior to surgery. These products are anti coagulants, and could lead to hematoma formation and bleeding during the surgery.
The incision for a full facelift usually begins at the temple goes along the natural skin fold in front of the ear then behind the ear and along the hairline into the scalp. Facelifts also involve a tightening of the deep facial layers (also called the SMAS) and then redraping of the overlying skin. Sometimes a very small incision is required just under the chin to help tighten the neck. The incisions will be closed with sutures that need to be removed.
Above is a diagram representing what is done in a traditional facelift. The black lines indicate the incisions of the face lift traveling from the temple around the ear and into the hairline behind the ear. The blue shaded areas show the area of skin that is lifted along the jaw line and in the neck. The deeper tissues of the face (called the SMAS) may be tightened also. The neck is tightened through a separate procedure called a platysmaplasty. The diagram on the right shows the improved neck and jaw line.
Dr. Van Laeken operates at several different hospitals, but generally performs facelifts at either the Cambie Surgery Centre or the False Creek Surgical Centre. These are both state of the art, fully accredited private surgical facilities.
There will be swelling and bruising for the first few days after surgery. This is normal and should disappear within 2-3 weeks after surgery.
Most patients who have sedentary jobs plan to take 2 weeks off work. If your job involves a great deal of physical activity Dr. Van Laeken can advise you as to how much time you should take off.
Dr. Van Laeken recommends that when you arrive home from the surgical facility you get into bed, and rest in a semi-sitting position. Do avoid bending your head down, vigorous physical activity, and lying flat. Your face and neck will feel tight, but this will decrease after a couple of weeks.
You will be sent home from the surgical facility wearing a large bandage around your head. You can remove this bandage yourself 24 hours after surgery. Once you have removed the bandage you can wash your hair in the shower with lukewarm water and a very mild shampoo. Do not rub your scalp or your face. Try to let your hair dry naturally but if you must use a blow dryer, do so on a very low setting held far from your face. Cleanse the suture area gently and then apply polysporin ointment (NOT CREAM).
The sutures in the area from the temple to the ear should be removed at approximately 5-7 days after surgery, and at 10-14 days for the sutures behind the ear into the hairline. After all of the sutures have been removed you can wear camouflage make up to conceal the bruising and scars. Men who have a facelift often let their beard grow during the recovery period. It camouflages the bruising and is a distraction.
There are risks associated with any type of surgery. Although the incidence of complications is rare Dr. Van Laeken feels that all patients should be informed of the potential complications prior to proceeding with surgery.
- Facial Weakness or Paralysis
- Hypersensitivity / Numbness
- Skin Loss
- Keloid Scarring
Read definitions for potential complications.
Contact us to book your consultation!