Rhytidectomy, a surgical procedure commonly known as a facelift, involves the removal of excess facial fat, the tightening of facial muscles, and the trimming or redraping of facial skin to approximate a smoother, firmer facial appearance. The procedure takes place on either the face, neck, or both.
Depending on the area of the face or neck where the "lift" is to take place, the surgeon will separate the skin from the underlying fat and muscle. The fat is then removed. Sutures are used to elevate the supporting fascial layers of the face and neck, and the skin is pulled back into place with any excess removed.
Possible complications associated with facelifts may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Nerve injury. Facial nerve injury or weakness may occur along with numbness or changes in skin sensation. This may be temporary or permanent.
Infection and anesthesia reaction. As with any type of surgery, there is a risk of infection and a reaction to the anesthesia.
Hematoma. A hematoma, blood that collects under the skin, could occur. They are generally removed by the doctor to avoid pressure on the skin and possible injury.
Slower healing process (for some people). Smokers, in particular, may find that the healing process following a facelift is slower than normal. Smoking in the period leading up to surgery, or after surgery, can contribute to skin injury and permanent scarring. Your surgeon may not perform your surgery if you are currently smoking.
Scarring. The scars may not heal properly and be more visible or thick than desired. This may require further treatment or revision.
The best candidates for a facelift are those whose face and/or neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity. The procedure also works best on persons whose bone structure is strong and well-defined.
Although each procedure varies, generally, facelift surgeries follow this process:
Surgeon's office-based surgical facility
Outpatient surgery center
Local anesthesia, combined with intravenous sedation (allows the person to remain awake but sleepy and comfortable)
Several hours or longer, if more than one procedure is being performed
Pain after surgery is not unusual, though generally well-controlled with medication
Temporary numbness of the skin
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200