The surgical facelift is the third most common plastic surgery procedure, with almost 235,000 individuals opting for it in 2020 alone. Surgeons use a number of different techniques; the specific one depends on the type and severity of your symptoms, as well as your aesthetic goals.
All procedures, though, follow the same basic steps. The surgeon makes incisions along your hairline, removes and reshapes the underlying muscle, fat, and soft tissues, then “lifts” the skin taut, using sutures to ensure it remains in the lifted position.
At PNW Surgery, board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Leo Urbinelli and his team offer the longest-lasting and most cutting-edge facelift techniques for their patients in the Portland, Oregon area. It’s important to understand what’s involved not only in the procedure itself but also what you can expect during your recovery, including when you’ll see your results, so the team has put together this brief guide to get you in the know.
A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that addresses the visible signs of aging on the lower two-thirds of the face.
As you age, the look and shape of your face change. Due to the loss of collagen, a structural protein, the skin becomes looser and doesn’t rebound as easily. In addition, you lose fat in some areas of the face and gain it in others. All can serve to make you look older than you feel.
A facelift can address:
A facelift can’t address the fine lines and wrinkles due to sun damage, creases around the nose and upper lip, or uneven skin color. Other cosmetic procedures, such as non-surgical cosmetic treatments, can address the look or quality of the skin itself.
Many patients combine the facelift with other procedures, including blepharoplasty (eyelid raising), rhinoplasty (a nose job), and/or a neck lift, to give them a more overall appearance of youth.
Make no mistake — a facelift is a major surgery, and as such, it requires a recovery period before you can show your new look to the world.
The day after surgery, you might feel sleepy and unsteady. That’s why you should line up a support network of friends and family to take care of driving, food preparation, and home care. This is also the time when you’ll need pain medication to manage your discomfort.
On day two, you’ll probably have a follow-up visit with Dr. Urbinelli. He removes or changes your surgical dressings and evaluates the incisions and amount of swelling. If everything’s normal, he redresses the incisions, reviews your postoperative care, and then you’re free to go home.
By the third day, you’ll probably start to feel better and want to move around a bit, which is fine, but rest whenever you feel the need. The bruising and swelling are usually the worst on days three and four, so don’t be surprised by your appearance in the mirror. You may still need pain medication, but the pain should start to subside.
On days four through six, you’ll notice the swelling start to decrease, and you’ll probably feel more comfortable moving around. You can even do light housework if you feel well enough.
During the second week post-surgery, you’ll still have some swelling and bruising, and that can lead to feelings of numbness, tingling, and tightness, all of which are normal. By the end of the week, most people feel appreciably better and can return to desk work and begin doing light activities like walking.
Dr. Urbinelli may remove your sutures anywhere from the end of week one to week three, depending on the technique used for the surgery and your healing process. By weeks three to four, you’ll have some residual swelling, but you’ll start to look and feel much better. In fact, by the end of week four, most patients begin to see the real improvements from the procedure and are more willing to expose their faces to others.
At the end of this time, too, you can get back to exercising and the rest of your normal routine. The scars may appear pinkish, but they’ll fade with time.
Want to learn more about facelifts and if they’re right for you? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Urbinelli by giving PNW Plastic Surgery a call at 818-740-6142, or booking online today.