Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)

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As we age, our facial skin loosens and wrinkles, and the muscles of the neck may weaken as well. Anything that will cause the skin to lose elasticity will hasten the process, including sun exposure, weight fluctuations and heredity. A facelift can address these problems by firming and tightening the skin of the face and neck all in one step. It is most effective for the lower face (jowls and neck). A double chin can be improved at the same time by a surgical procedure called supplemental lipectomy. To achieve a more complete facial rejuvenation, facelifts are frequently done in conjunction with other procedures such as eyelid surgery. Your surgeon may also recommend injections of collagen or Botox for deep creases in your forehead or frown lines between your eyebrows.

Contrary to popular opinion, the texture of the skin will not be changed by a facelift. Acne scars, age spots, fine lines and smoker's creases will soon return to their original texture, no matter how tight the skin is pulled. A facelift will not give someone beautiful skin unless they have beautiful skin to begin with. However, skin treatments such as laser resurfacing or chemical resurfacing can be used in combination with a facelift to improve the texture of the skins and smooth skin wrinkles.

If you're considering a facelift, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a board-certified facial surgeon with experience in facelift surgery.


*The 2012 national average for Face Lift fee is $6,630.

*Face Lift Surgery may help alleviate the debilitating headaches for those who suffer of migraines by temporarily paralyzing certain facial muscles.

Rhytidectomy is the medical term used to describe Face Lift.







  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this surgery?
  2. How is a facelift performed?
  3. How long does the surgery take?
  4. Will I need to stay in a hospital?
  5. How much pain is there?
  6. What is the recovery period like?
  7. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  8. Ideal candidate
  9. Alternatives
  10. Risks and limitations
  11. Appropriate age


What are some of the most common benefits of facelift surgery?

While this procedure cannot stop the aging process, it can often make a person appear to be a decade younger than his/her actual age. Facelifts are one of the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States.

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How is a facelift performed?

The incision for your facelift usually begins in the hairline near the temple and continues in front of the ear, around the ear lobe, behind the ear and into the hair. The muscles and sagging tissue are tightened, excess skin is removed, and the remaining skin is repositioned to create a more youthful look. The surgeon will close the incision with stitches, or with metal clips on the scalp. If the neck needs lifting, a small incision may be made under the chin. However, because no two patients are alike, every procedure is personalized to meet his/her needs.

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How long does the surgery take?

A facelift takes an average of two to three hours and can be performed using either a local or general anesthetic. Preferences will be discussed with your cosmetic surgeon during your consultation. Facelift surgery generally requires a few hours to perform, depending upon the complexity of the condition and the desired results.

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Will I need to stay in a hospital?

A facelift can be done in the hospital or in an office surgical suite, depending on your preferences as well as your surgeon's professional opinion. It may be performed under local anesthesia with light sedation, local anesthesia and deep sedation, or general anesthesia. The longer the procedure is expected to take, the more likely that general anesthesia will be recommended. You may be allowed to return home within a few hours of the surgery, and spend the night in the comfort of your own home, or it may be necessary to spend the night in the hospital so your recovery process can be monitored by a medical staff.

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How much pain is there?

Minimal facelifts can be performed quickly and with little risk, but the degree of correction achieved by these lifts is also less. More extensive techniques can give better correction of the aging changes in the face, but in exchange for greater operating time, more risk, longer swelling, slower recovery, and greater cost. Make sure that you discuss your goals, budget, and risk tolerance with your surgeon to decide on the plan that is best for you.

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What is the recovery period like?

Patients usually feel and look okay surprisingly quickly after a facelift. Despite the fact that it is a large operation, there is usually very little pain. Swelling disappears within a few days, and bruises are usually gone by two weeks. Patients generally feel a sense of tightness and numbness that should gradually subside within several weeks. It is important to follow a careful plan on return to strenuous activity in order to avoid tension on the wound (which could lead to worse scarring).

The scars will remain pink for a few months before maturing to less visible white scars, which can be hidden with makeup. Furthermore, the scars are often hidden within your hair and in the normal creases of your skin.

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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

After recovery, patients can expect a more rested and often youthful appearance. Although a face lift can last for many years, patients continue to age. Therefore, it is impossible to predict how long it might be before an individual would consider a second lift. Some believe that a facelift also helps prevent the skin from sagging again by holding it tighter to the face.

The results of a facelift are different for each person. The people who look best after a facelift are those who looked the best before the procedure. Some people have one facelift in a lifetime, while others have a second surgery 7 to 15 years later.

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Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for facelift are:

  • People with good facial skin elasticity
  • In good physical health
  • Psychologically stable
  • Non-smokers
  • Wanting to improve the appearance of their face and neck
  • Well informed in regard to the procedure's outcome
  • Having realistic expectations

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your surgeon will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your surgeon if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for lower eyelid blepharoplasty.

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The goal of a facelift is to make you look better. For some people, this involves trying to reverse some of the changes that occur with aging, for others it may involve changing a fatty neck or other problem that they have had their whole adult life.

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Face Lift Risks and limitations:

A facelift is a surgical procedure, subject to all of the usual problems that accompany surgery. Bleeding from the cut tissues, leading to bruising and possible accumulations of blood under the skin, are unavoidable in any surgery. It is a tribute to the great skill of today's surgeons that these problems are usually kept to a minimum. Infection can also occur any time the skin is cut, but again this is uncommon.

In order to minimize these risks, it is important that you follow all of your surgeon's instructions, both before and after surgery.

Keep in mind that a facelift may improve but not eliminate the wrinkles and lines on your face. Your surgeon may recommend chemical or laser resurfacing to help smooth the laugh lines between your nose and the corners of your mouth, the small vertical wrinkles around your lips, or fine wrinkles over your entire face. Your surgeon may also recommend injections of collagen or Botox for deep creases in your forehead or frown lines between your eyebrows. Signs of aging around the eyes, such as excess folds of eyelid skin, pockets of fat below the eyes and fine wrinkling of the eyelid skin can be improved with upper eyelid blepharoplasty or lower eyelid blepharoplasty (eyelid surgeries) which can be performed at the same time as the facelift.

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Appropriate age:

A person should have a facelift when he/she feels that he/she is ready for it, and could enjoy the benefits it might offer him/her. For a person with fat deposits on the sides of the face, or on the neck, that could be as early as the 20s. For others, it could be in the 80s.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Costs source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may vary depending the extensiveness of the procedure, location, and other factors. Costs are provided solely for research purposes. For specific estimates, please contact a qualified plastic surgeon.

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