Over time, the effects of exposure to sun, stress and gravity take its toll on facial skin. In addition to deep lines that form between the nose and mouth, wrinkles form around the eye perimeter and across the forehead. Many people notice saggy skin below their chin and hanging loosely around the neck. While no procedure can stop all of the signs of aging, a facelift can tighten skin, pull loose, saggy skin taut, and improve deep and subsurface wrinkles. Many women, as well as men, choose rhytidectomy (facelift) to help their face regain the bright, smoother look of their former years. Some of these patients will elect to have the facelift performed in conjunction with another facial treatment, such as an eyelid lift (blepharoplasty), or cosmetic nose surgery (rhinoplasty). There are some circumstances where procedures other than a facelift may be a better choice for you. Dr. Cram will discuss your concerns and treatment options at your initial consultative appointment.
The Facelift Patient
Each patient is unique. Therefore, Dr. Cram handles each facelift as an individualized and specialized treatment. There are many factors that affect the facelift procedure and the results that can be expected. The patients age, health, whether the patient is a smoker or non-smoker and elasticity of the skin are all taken into consideration before preparing a plan for surgery. Iowa City Plastic Surgery staff will ask you about your overall health, including any diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid disease that may affect your abilities to accept anesthesia and heal properly. Please let us know if you are currently taking any medications, over-the-counter or prescription. Dr. Cram will discuss all aspects of the facelift, including the surgical procedure, anesthesia, the risks and costs involved and the expected recovery time.
Facelifts can be done under local anesthesia with sedation, or can be done under general anesthesia. While the procedure is normally done on an outpatient basis, you may be required to stay in the hospital up to 24 hours while we monitor your incisions. The choice of anesthetic technique will be discussed during your consultation. Patient safety and comfort are our primary concern, and the anesthetic will be chosen with these two parameters in mind.
Iowa City Plastic Surgery will explain where your incisions will occur and how to best meet your overall expectations before surgery. Your surgery will be performed at Mercy Hospital in Iowa City. A comprehensive team, including Dr. Cram who will perform the surgery, will monitor your vitals before, during and after surgery. Mercy Hospital nurses and anesthesiologists are caring, professional and dedicated staff with your comfort and safety as their first priority. Most facelifts will take between 3-6 hours, depending on your age and complexity of the procedure. Most facelifts require an incision above the hairline at the temples that will run alongside a natural line in front of the ear and around the ear to the hairline behind the ear. If you want the skin on your neck tightened, an incision will also be made under the chin to allow the surgeons to repair and contour the neck. Fat may be removed in these areas to help improve the shape of the skin and face. We then pull the skin and trim excess skin before stitching these incisions. You may need a drainage tube over night. Your head will then be wrapped in bandages to help minimize bruising, swelling and bleeding.
The technique described above is the standard facelift and for many patients, this is still the gold standard for treatment. However, in recent times, many advances have been made in facial rejuvenation techniques and in many cases more specific changes in areas may be a part of the patients treatment regimen. Certainly the mid facelift and some of the facial filler techniques, such as injection of the patents own fat tissue or inject of the new filler substances, may be used either as an adjunct to the standard or in some cases may be used alone to accomplish the changes that will help to rejuvenate the face. It is important that at your surgeon have a wide range of interventions when he is evaluating your goals.
Following surgery, you will be given pain medications to deal with the discomfort. Your face may appear bruised, swollen and discolored for the first few days after surgery. You can expect some numbness which will go away in a few months following surgery. Iowa City Plastic Surgery recommends a schedule light with activity and we request that for the first few days, you keep your head elevated. You will need a responsible adult with you immediately after surgery and to help you when you first return home. Our staff will monitor your recovery closely after your procedure. Many patients are shocked at how they look immediately following a facelift, but in a few weeks, the patient’s incisions have healed, swelling has eased and patients are delighted with the results. Most patients return to work 10-14 days after their facelift. Your hair will help to hide any scarring, which will diminish over time. The result will be a noticeable change in the contour, tightness and youthful appearance of your skin.
With any surgical procedure there are risks and potential complications. Bleeding and infection are two risks of any operation and could occur in a facelift as well. There is a possibility of numbness of the skin as it is healing, though this is not common. Sudden swelling, increased pain or excessive bleeding should be reported to Iowa City Plastic Surgery immediately. Despite our best efforts there is always the possibility that one of these complications could occur. The patient and the surgeon must remain a team, and work together to obtain the best outcome possible under the circumstances.
The cost of the procedure will depend on the complexity of the facelift as well as the cost of the operating room and the anesthesiologist fees. The patient is usually given the information on cost at the time of the first consultation. It is important to understand what the price quote includes so that the total cost of surgery is determined.
Click here for more information on Facelifts.