Nobody likes to be faced with the obvious signs of aging, stress, sun exposure and gravity in the form of deep creases appearing between the mouth and nose, a jaw line that grows slack and droops, and both fat deposits and folds that appear around the neck area. Once these signs begin to be evident many people opt for a face lift (also known as rhytidectomy). While a face lift cannot stop your face from aging any further it can certainly improve the appearance of it now by repairing some of the visible damage that has been done to the skin and muscles of the face and thus restoring a younger look to the person. Face lifts are procedures that can be done by themselves but are also often done along with other surgeries such as eyelid surgery, a forehead lift or nose reshaping.
The majority of face lifts are performed under local anesthesia (pain-free) while you also may be given a sedative to make you feel drowsy. In this state you may feel a slight degree of discomfort but for the most part your face will not suffer any amount of pain. Some doctors however prefer to put their patients out and therefore use a general anesthesia during the procedure.
Not all surgeons go about the surgery in exactly the same way. Some do one side of the face in its entirety before doing the other while some go back and forth between the sides. It depends on two things- the patient's facial structure and the technique favored by the surgeon.
The plastic surgeon starts by making incisions above the hairline at the temple area and then extends it in a natural line inside the cartilage at the front of the ear and then continues to cut behind the earlobe, ending at the lower scalp. In some patients the neck area is to be part of the face lift therefore a tiny incision must be made under the chin.
The plastic surgeon separates the skin from the exposed fat and muscle and then removes some of the loose skin and fat tissue. In some cases fat from the chin or around the neck is trimmed or suctioned to improve the lift further. The fat tissue is given the name, SMS layer and is the main focus of the face lift. At the same time that the excess fat is taken out, the underlying membrane and muscle is also tightened. Stitches (or sutures) are then used to close the incisions. Incisions on the scalp often have to be closed up using metal clips.
After surgery is over, for a temporary period of time a small, thin tube is positioned under the skin behind the ear in order to drain any blood that might happen to pool there. The head is generally wrapped loosely in bandages in order to cut down on the effects of bruising and swelling.
A face lift varies in how long it takes to complete. The average is about two to four hours but could take several hours depending on how many procedures the patient is undergoing at once. Discomfort after surgery is not a huge problem but pain medication that is prescribed by the plastic surgeon can easily improve upon this consequence. Some patients experience a small degree of numbness but this is considered normal and should only last no more than a couple of weeks.
For a few days following a face lift it is necessary to elevate the head on two pillows (or at an angle of 30 degrees) in order to keep the swelling down as much as possible. The drainage tube will be ready to be taken out after a day or two and bandages can be taken off the face and head anywhere from one to five days, depending on the specific patient. When the bandages are first removed the patient's face will look bruised, pale and puffy but that is perfectly normal. It will take anywhere from four to six weeks for the person to look as good as new again. Stitches are generally removed after a span of five days while the metal clips in the scalp may be left in a few days longer to promote healing
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