This website is intended to provide you with general information only. This information is not a substitute for advice from your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and does not contain all the known facts about this procedure or every possible side effect of surgery. It is important that you speak to your surgeon before deciding to undergo surgery. If you are not sure about the benefits, risks and limitations of treatment, or anything else relating to your procedure, ask your surgeon to explain. Patient information provided as part of this website is evidence-based, and sourced from a range of reputable information providers including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Better Health Channel and Mi-tec medical publishing.
A facelift, also known as meloplasty or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that tightens and removes sagging skin on the face and neck. Facial muscles may be surgically tightened to improve their tone. Excess fat may also be removed or repositioned as part of the surgery.
Most facelifts are performed for people aged between 40 and 65, but older people can also have facelifts.
The aim of a facelift is to reduce the signs of ageing by improving the contours of the face and neck. A facelift can help to make the face and skin appear younger and smoother. A facelift may also be combined with other surgical procedures such as a brow lift, eyelid surgery or nose reconstruction. The bone structure of the face will not be changed during facelift surgery.
Non-surgical treatments, such as chemical skin peel , dermabrasion or skin resurfacing of the face, may be undertaken at the same time as the facelift. The aim of these treatments is to treat sun-damaged skin and crow’s feet around the eyes, and fine lines around the mouth, which are not removed by facelift surgery.
Facelift surgery is a highly individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone. Always talk to your Specialist Plastic Surgeon before making a decision. Your surgeon will assess your condition and general health, and plan the treatment that is best suited to you.
Before you decide on facelift surgery, there are some important issues to keep in mind:
Facelift surgery may not be a good option for you if you are:
Facelift surgery may be a good option for you if:
Facelift surgery can be performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia. Often a combination of general and local anaesthetic is used. Modern anaesthesia is safe and effective, but does have some risks. Ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and anaesthetist for more information. Your surgeon and/or anaesthetist will ask you about all the medications you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have. Make sure you have an up to date list before the surgery.
Modern surgery is generally safe but does have the potential for risks and complications to occur.
Some general risks and complications of surgery may include:
Specific risks and complications associated with facelift surgery include:
Depending upon your general health and the extent of the procedure, facelift surgery can be performed either as a day case or alternatively with a short hospital stay. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will advise on the best option for you.
Before undergoing surgery, it is important that you:
You will also be asked to provide a complete medical history for your Specialist Plastic Surgeon including any health problems you have had, any medication you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have.
You may be advised to stop taking certain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, and medicines that contain aspirin. You may also be asked to stop taking naturopathic substances such as garlic, ginkgo, ginseng and St John’s Wort as they may affect clotting and anaesthesia. Always tell your surgeon EVERYTHING you are taking.
Unless your surgeon advises differently, you will be able to continue taking most medicines that you have been taking.
Your surgeon will also advise you if any other tests are required, such as blood tests, X-ray examinations or an Electrocardiograph (ECG) to assess your heart.
If you decide to have facelift surgery, your surgeon will ask you to sign a consent form. Make sure you read the consent form carefully before signing. If you have any questions, ask your surgeon.
Prepare a “recovery area” in your home. This may include pillows, ice packs, a thermometer and a telephone within easy reach. Make sure you arrange for a relative or friend to drive you to and from the hospital or clinic. Someone should also stay with you for at least 24 hours after you return home.
Your surgeon should give detailed preoperative instructions. Follow them carefully.
Arrange for a relative or friend to drive you home after the surgery. Someone should also stay with you for at least the first day after the operation and preferably for a few days.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, notify your surgeon immediate:
You can usually drink fluids and eat a light meal two or three hours after surgery. You may have some pain and discomfort, particularly around the incisions. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will prescribe pain medication as required.
In some cases, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
Some bruising and swelling is normal, and may take up to a few weeks to disappear. Sleeping with your head elevated will help to reduce the swelling.
Depending on the extent of your procedure, you may need to take a few weeks off work to rest. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, swimming and strenuous sports until advised by your surgeon.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on post-operative care. These instructions may include:
Be sure to ask your surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period, such as:
Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will endeavour to minimise scarring and to keep your scars as inconspicuous as possible by locating the incisions in easily hidden sites. That way, scars will be along natural skin lines and creases. Scars may fade with time and become barely noticeable. If you are prone to scarring, you should advise your surgeon.
As with all surgical procedures, revisional surgery may be necessary to correct minor irregularities. The results of a facelift usually lasts between five and twelve years. Most people can have two to three facelifts in a lifetime, depending on the extent of each procedure and the amount of scarring that occurs with each facelift.
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for individual procedures can vary widely between Specialist Plastic Surgeons. Some factors that may influence the cost include the surgeon’s experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic location of the office.
Costs associated with the procedure may include:
Your surgeon should welcome any questions you may have regarding fees.
Visit the Plastic Surgery Glossary for more medical terms.