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What is a face-lift?

Looking and feeling your best has never been safer or easier. While aging of the skin is inevitable, face-lift surgery is a way to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles that often develop over time. Face-lift surgery can improve the overall appearance of the face and jaw.

As the body ages, the skin loses elasticity and volume, causing sagging of the skin. The youthful contours of the face can disappear due to many factors, including thinning of the skin, sun damage, smoking, hereditary factors, loss of facial fat, and stress. Face-lift surgery, also known as rhytidectomy, can improve the appearance of the face, making it tighter and younger looking. Face-lift surgery can get rid of jowls and remove loose skin and excess fat of the neck (double chin or "turkey neck").

Face-lift surgery is often combined with eyelid surgery, brow lift surgery, or other procedures for a more youthful appearance.

What to expect

During a thorough consultation, your physician will perform a physical exam, take a full medical history, ask you about medications you may be taking and any conditions you currently have, take photographs, and discuss your expectations for the surgery. In addition, you may ask your physician any questions and discuss concerns you may have about face-lift at this time. Together, you will develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs and desires. This may include additional procedures such as a brow lift and eyelid surgery; fat transfers; or fillers, peels, or laser surgery to improve the quality of the skin.

Face-lift surgery involves an incision just above and in front of the ear that continues under the earlobe to the back of the ear. This part of the incision will ultimately blend into the hairline and natural creases of the skin. The skin is then gently lifted so the underlying muscle and tissue can be repositioned and tightened. Your surgeon may remove excess fat and skin, if necessary.

A second incision under the chin may be required to lift a sagging neck


Complications from face-lift surgery are minimal and include those associated with any surgery, such as infection, excessive bleeding and anesthesia risks. In addition, risks for face-lift surgery include:

  • Facial nerve injury
  • Hair loss
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Asymmetry
  • Skin irregularities and discoloration
  • Temporary numbness


Immediately following your face-lift, you will be taken into a recovery area for close monitoring. Your face will have gauze dressings to minimize swelling. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that collects. You will be prescribed pain medication and an antibiotic to prevent infection.

Before being discharged from the hospital, you will be given postoperative instructions by your surgeon. It’s very important that you follow these instructions carefully to avoid complications.

While everyone’s recovery is different, you will need to take it easy until your surgeon tells you it’s OK to resume normal activity, usually after four to six weeks.

Frequently asked questions

Are the results of a face-lift permanent?

While a face-lift can “reset the clock,” the results are not permanent, as there is no way to stop the natural aging process.

Can I get a natural look with a face-lift?

Yes. Your desired results should be discussed with your surgeon at your consultation.

How long before I will feel like myself again?

Most people are able to go out in public within 10 to 14 days after surgery. However it will be two to three months before your face feels back to normal.

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