Face the facts

Our face ages as time goes on – this is a fact of life.

You may have the best skin care routine or avoid sun exposure; however, this does not exempt you from the fact that you will experience changes in your appearance over time. As much as we sometimes wish we could turn back the clock, this is not possible; however, we can age gracefully with a little help here and there.

A facelift is an operation designed to rejuvenate the ageing face. Modern facelifts are designed to re-elevate and reposition the deeper tissues to a more youthful position, without the marked skin tightening stigmata seen in the past.

The effects of ageing

Signs of ageing on the face are the same for most people. The general effects of age appear on facial features in the following ways:

  • General ‘wear and tear’ coupled with sun damage leads to changes in the skin quality (wrinkles, lines, pigmentary changes).
  • Loss of facial volume, which affects both the soft tissue padding (fat) and the bone.
  • Sagging of the remaining facial fat – droopiness leading to heavy nasolabial lines, flattened cheek prominences, jowls, and sagging neck skin.
  • Weakened support structures leading to prominent bulges in the eyelids.

The loss of the youthful contours in your face can be due to a variety of reasons, including thinning of the skin, loss of facial fat, gravity, sun damage, smoking, as well as heredity factors and stress.

The procedure

The surgery is performed under IV sedation or a light general anaesthetic, most often as a day procedure – only occasionally is an overnight stay necessary. The duration of a facelift is generally 3 – 4 hours. Sometimes it may be longer – particularly if combined with other surgeries, such as for the eyes.

The usual incision commences in the sideburn area, and then in front of the ear, and often behind the ear in the groove. The skin and fatty tissues are then lifted off the underlying muscle and connective tissue as far forward as is necessary to correct the loose skin problem. The underlying muscle and tissue can be tightened with stitches if the surgeon feels it is necessary. The skin is pulled back and upward and the excess skin is removed. The wound is then closed with stitches and skin staples.

Fortunately, the scars are usually well concealed and may fade significantly over time.

Most patients feel extremely satisfied after their facelift as it achieves a youthful appearance which lasts approximately 10 years. The surgery is typically performed in an outpatient setting and sometimes even a well-equipped physician’s office. Pain and discomfort after surgery is minimal.

Dressings are removed after approximately 3-5 days, after which the patient can resume social activities such as using make-up, etc.

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