Everyone ages. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to resign yourself to wrinkles, jowls, and saggy skin. A facelift, known medically as a rhytidectomy, offers an excellent solution to achieving a more youthful appearance while maintaining a natural look. The procedure isn’t right for everyone, though, so read on to find out what you need to know to make an informed decision.

What Is a Facelift?

Let’s start at the beginning. Most people know that facelifts are cosmetic surgeries designed to restore a youthful appearance, but few are aware of how the process works. This surgery involves pulling back the skin on either side of the face, altering the tissues beneath it as needed, and removing the excess skin. If necessary, you can also schedule a neck lift alongside your facelift in Knoxville, TN.

There are three types of facelifts performed by today’s cosmetic surgeons. You may want to familiarize yourself with each of them before heading in for a consultation to make sure you and the doctor are on the same page.

1. Comprehensive Facelifts

Comprehensive facelifts involve tightening the tissues of the upper and lower faces, plus the neck. The doctor will place your incisions in front of and behind the ear where they are difficult to see.

2. Lower Facelifts

Lower facelifts treat only the bottom third of the face. They require less skin removal and shorter incisions, so they’re considered less invasive procedures. However, the results may not last as long.

3. Midface Lifts

Midface lifts address signs of aging around the cheekbones, exclusively. Patients are usually left with minimal scarring, but again, the results may not last as long.

Why Get a Facelift?

As we age, our faces change shape. Our skin loses elasticity, and fat deposits develop in some areas while disappearing in others. The overall impact is to make us look older, but one of the types of rhytidectomies described above may help. You might want to consider the procedure if you notice:

  • Sagging cheeks.
  • Deep folds of skin from the sides of your nose to the corners of your mouth.
  • Sagging skin or excess fat in the lower jawline.

You should note that facelifts don’t address wrinkles or fine lines. They change only the contour of the face. You’ll need to discuss alternative methods with your doctor for achieving smoother skin.

What to Expect

Facelifts generally take two to four hours to complete, although the specifics vary by doctor and patient. When the procedure is over, you should have a more proportionate, symmetrical face with a well-defined shape. Facelifts have higher patient satisfaction rates than almost any other type of cosmetic surgery. As long as you work with a skilled doctor and follow their recommendations for postoperative care to a T, you can expect good results and minimal scarring.

Potential Risks

Facelifts are relatively safe procedures. However, as with any surgery, they come with some risks. In addition to anesthesia complications and infections, short- or long-term risks can include scarring at the incision site, hematomas, nerve injury, hair loss, and skin loss. The risk of developing these complications is low, but you should avoid cosmetic surgery, in general, if you are a smoker, take blood-thinning medications, or suffer from a medical condition that prevents clotting or causes safety concerns with the anesthesia.

Healing From a Rhytidectomy

After the rhytidectomy is over, you may notice mild to moderate pain, swelling, bruising, and numbness or draining from the incisions. These are normal and can be controlled with pain medications, cool packs to reduce swelling, and plenty of rest. Pain on one side of the face or neck, chest pain, or irregular heartbeats are not and should be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately.

You’ll need several follow-up appointments after the surgery. Here’s what to expect in terms of timing:

  1. The drainage tube is usually removed the day after a facelift. The surgeon will also change your bandages and may apply antibiotic cream to the incisions.
  2. You’ll be able to switch from bandages to an elasticized face sling two or three days after the surgery.
  3. The stitches can be removed around a week after surgery. At this point, your doctor will assess the wound and decide on a schedule to monitor your healing process.
  4. The final follow-up is usually scheduled for around two months after your surgery.

You’ll likely need to take several weeks off from work to rest and recover. The first three weeks of healing are crucial to avoiding complications and ensuring positive results. Follow your wound-care instructions carefully.

Things to Avoid After Surgery

If you want the incisions to heal well and your return to your normal life to be as quick as possible, you’ll want to avoid a few things. You shouldn’t use soaps or shampoos immediately after the surgery and should follow instructions regarding which kinds to use during the rest of the healing process. Avoid clothing you need to pull over your head, opting for shirts that fasten in the front instead.

Don’t put pressure on the incisions or make faces that cause them to move around too much. You’ll need to avoid sports and vigorous aerobic activity for several weeks for the same reason. Your incision will need to be kept out of the sun for three weeks, after which you should start using sunscreen of at least SPF 30 whenever you plan to be outside.

Avoid coloring, bleaching, or perming your hair in the weeks after the surgery. Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks before heading to the hairdresser for these procedures. You can, however, begin styling your hair to hide signs of the incision as soon as it heals.

The Importance of Working With a Skilled Doctor

There’s one final thing you should know, and it’s that Dr. Breazeale has been practicing plastic surgery for nearly two decades. In that time, he has completed a remarkable number of facelifts that have left patients looking and feeling their very best. You can schedule a consultation by calling (865) 342-0300.

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