Imagine a better you… with your face reflecting the youth you feel inside…
With age, skin loses its elastic quality. It begins to sag and wrinkle. When the skin on your cheeks starts to form jowls and the skin on your neck loosens, it is time to consider a facelift (rhytidectomy). These are as individual as you are. You can have your whole face lifted or only the lower face, neck or brow region. The facelift cannot stop the aging process. It can improve the most visible signs of aging by tightening deeper structures, re-draping the skin of the face and neck, and removing selected areas of fat. Dr. Lam is one of the premier cosmetic and plastic surgeons in Langhorne, Philadelphia, Newtown, New Hope and Doylestown PA. that performs facelifts and necklifts.
What Does The Facelift Procedure Entail?
Up until about two decades ago, facelifts involved far more pulling of the skin and a sort of “one-size-fits-all” approach. That was then. Today, surgical techniques have evolved dramatically with the goal of banishing the pulled, unnatural look created by that focus on the skin.
Dr. Lam uses a variety of techniques, often a combination, to address the unique aging that is occurring on every patient’s face and neck. Rather than stretching the skin, Dr. Lam usually seeks to elevate the underlying superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS). This approach creates the most natural-looking results for his patients. The goal is to bring sagging tissue and muscle back up to their former higher positions.
Dr. Lam views each patient’s situation as unique. During your consultation the two of you will discuss your goals and what surgical approaches will best achieve them. These are some general descriptions of various methods that may be used:
- Traditional Facelift — This is the “full” facelift for rejuvenating the face, jowls, and neck. A full facelift involves lifting and repositioning the muscles and deeper tissues and removing certain attachments. Unless the patient has a lot of excess fat, Dr. Lam usually sculpts the fat to avoid creating a hollow look that you see on failed facelifts. Excess skin is trimmed and then re-draped. The incisions with a traditional lift start at the temples, run downward in front of the ear, wrap around the earlobe, and terminate in the hairline of the lower scalp. If the patient has particular issues in the neck area, a second incision is made under the chin to lift, tighten, and trim excess skin on the upper neck.
- Limited-Incision/Mini-Facelift — As the name implies, the goals of this facelift aren’t as widespread, instead providing limited rejuvenation around the eyes and mouth, including nasolabial folds and other deep creases. Shorter incisions are made at the temples, around the ears, and if needed, in the lower eyelids and/or under the upper lip. These mini lifts have become popular as younger patients seek to stem the tide of aging earlier, but with a less dramatic procedure.
- Mid-Face Lift — This lift has more specific goals. It focuses on the mid-face, lifting the cheeks and removing lines. This is important, as many people feel their flattened cheeks age their face the most. Mid-face lifts can reduce puffiness under the eyes, correct nasolabial folds, and improve the cheeks. Incisions are small, usually in the lower eyelids or mouth.
- Neck lift — These lifts focus mainly on the jowls and neck. They involve only short incisions, creating very minimal scarring. The incision is made around the earlobe and behind the ear to the lower scalp. An incision can also be made under the chin.
Who Is An Ideal Candidate For A Facelift?
Truth be told, unless you’ve spent your entire life indoors, most everyone over the age of 45 or so could really benefit from the facial rejuvenation Dr. Lam achieves with these surgeries. Limited incision methods can even be used for those younger than 40 or 45. Ideal candidates? You have to want permanent changes and rejuvenation. You can achieve some of these corrections with dermal fillers, but those results are fleeting with the lifespan of the filler. These are surgeries with some recovery involved, but our patients find them very rewarding.
If you’re considering coming to see us in our Langhorne offices for this procedure, you can probably identify with some or all of the following traits:
- You have mid-face sagging
- You have deep creases under your eyes
- Your have deep nasolabial folds
- Jowls have formed on your jawline
- You have fatty, sagging areas just below your cheekbones
- You have loose skin, wrinkles, vertical cords, and fatty tissue on your neck
What Are The Risks Involved With Facelift Surgery?
A facelift with Dr. Lam is major surgery. That means it includes the risks associated with surgery: bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, hematoma, and the like. Beyond those general risks of surgery, facelifts can create a temporary loss of muscle function and sensation. This is a rare complication and it happens as a result of tissue repositioning. But it invariably resolves relatively quickly. The incision scars can thicken and widen, especially if recovery procedures are not followed. There can be hair loss at the incision sites within the hairline. If you follow our recovery instructions, these complications are rare. Facelifts are a very satisfying procedure for the vast majority of our patients.
What Will My Recovery Be Like After Facelift Surgery?
These recoveries aren’t necessarily a walk in the park, especially for full facelifts. Facelifts involve a good deal of tissue lifting and repositioning, and this creates tissue trauma, bruising, and swelling.
After your surgery, you’ll return home and your face will be bandaged. Depending on the method Dr. Lam used, there may be drainage tubes to alleviate fluid buildup. There will be extensive bruising and swelling that will last from two to three weeks. The first few days are the hardest, but then you will feel better quickly. Your skin may feel tight in the face and neck. You will likely have numbness in areas, as well. This is normal and can last up to a couple months, as the facial nerves adjust to the re-draped skin.
One thing about recovery after a facelift that can be difficult is the way swelling returns, seemingly out of the blue. You’ll think you’re done with this phase, and then after a day on your feet and on the go you return home and your face is swollen again. This can occur occasionally for weeks, so you need to be patient; this is normal healing. Also, your incisions will transition from an initial numbness to itching. Again, this is normal. It is simply the result of your nerves adapting to the changes.
Most patients can return to work by the third week after surgery, but you’ll probably need to use some camouflage cosmetics. This recovery timeframe doesn’t apply to mini facelifts, as they can have a far shorter recovery.
When Can I Get Back To Exercising After A Facelift?
A key to recovery from these procedures is to avoid allowing your blood pressure to elevate on your face. When does this happen? When bending over deeply, when lifting heavy objects, and when elevating your heart rate. Those sound like the traits of most strenuous exercise routines.
For the first few days of your recovery, you should take short, light walks to encourage blood circulation. But you don’t want to increase your heart rate or blood pressure, as this can cause the tiny blood vessels beneath the skin of the face to bleed.
You can increase your activity levels for the rest of the first month, but weight training and strenuous exercise need to wait. You can add light cardio after about one month. At six weeks, most patients can return to all exercise options.
What Will My Scarring Be Like After A Facelift?
Dr. Lam has been performing these surgeries for over two decades, and his experience is key. He works very hard to minimize any visible scarring by hiding incisions in the hairline, behind your ears, or in natural creases. Your scars will initially be pink, and this can be concerning, but they will gradually turn white as your skin settles down. They will become less and less noticeable with every passing week.
It might be that you will achieve the optimum results if you combine a facelift with another procedure such as a blepharoplasty, which will balance both the upper and lower regions of your face and neck.
Facelift / Necklift surgery is highly individualized for each patient. Dr. Lam will carefully evaluate and discuss each patient’s options for facial rejuvenation. The best candidates for facelift surgery have a face and neck line that has begun to sag, but whose skin has elasticity and whose bony structure is well defined.
With the expansion of non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedures, patients have a broader variety of options and can intervene earlier in the aging process. Non-invasive facial rejuvenation procedures can also compliment and prolong the results of surgical procedures. Dr. Benjamin Lam will consult with each patient to piece together the surgical and non-surgical options for each patient for optimal results. Complimentary procedures include, but are not limited to, Ultherapy, Fraxel, BOTOX, Juvéderm and Voluma injectables, and skin care techniques.