Facelift

Gravity, sun exposure, and the stresses of daily life take a toll on our faces and necks.  Compare photographs of yourself from 10 or 15 years ago to photographs of today and you’ll notice many differences.  Deeper and more noticeable creases, jowls, the face looks a little more square than oval.  And what happened to the neck?!

Facelift surgery can alter and minimize these telltale signs of aging, resulting in a refreshed and rejuvenated appearance. In contrast to some of the “wind tunnel” appearance of facelifts so common in the past, a facelift performed by Dr. Kunkel tends to result in a natural, harmonious appearance.

Best candidates for a facelift

Facelifts (technically known as rhytidectomies) rejuvenate the mid- to lower face and neck. Facelifts are most effective for patients who want to correct:

  • Loose skin of the cheeks and lower face
  • Deep creases between the nose and mouth (nasolabial folds)
  • Jowls
  • Loose skin and vertical bands in the neck

The best candidate for rhytidectomy surgery is in good health, does not smoke, is close to her (or his) ideal body weight, and has facial and neck changes as listed above.

Facelift combined with other procedures

Facelifts are frequently combined with additional procedures.  Cosmetic eyelid surgerybrow lifts, and chin implants for instance, are commonly combined with rhytidectomy.   Other combinations are possible, including breast augmentationbreast lift, and other body contour procedures.

where is facelift surgery performed?

Dr. Kunkel typically performs facelift procedures in a surgery center or hospital.  The patient is put to sleep under the direction of an anesthesiologist (general anesthesia).   The procedure takes Dr. Kunkel 4 to 5 or 6 hours, depending on what the patient desires and the potential combinations of surgery involved.   Dr. Kunkel prefers that the patient spends the night in the surgical facility.  That allows her to be kept comfortable and receive great care from trained nurses, rather than relying on someone at home who isn’t sure what’s going on.   Safety is important.

types of facelifts

Each facelift is designed with a patient’s unique goals and physical attributes in mind.

Full facelift

A full facelift performed by Dr. Kunkel includes treatment of the cheeks, jawline, and neck.  Typically this involves making an incision just behind the hairline in the temple.  The incision extends down to in front of the ear, then around behind the ear and into the hair behind the ear.  An incision may also be made just below the chin.  The tissues beneath the skin are lifted and tightened with sutures.  As those tissues are re-positioned, redundant skin is removed. This type of facelift works best for a person who has loose neck skin, jowls, and loose skin in her cheeks.

short scar facelift

This type of facelift may work best for a woman in her 40’s or 50’s who is noticing some loose skin along her jawline and neck, and maybe a little jowl development.  She may say something like, “My mother had this and then developed saggy skin and jowls.  I don’t want to look like that”.  In a short scar facelift an incision is made just behind the hairline in the temple.  The incision extends down to the ear and around the earlobe, typically ending in the crease behind the ear.  Often an incision is not made in the neck.

facelift with fat grafting

Dr. Kunkel often does fat grafting during facelift surgery.  A small amount of fat may be easily obtained from a woman’s abdomen or thighs through one or two small incisions.  The fat may be placed in the cheeks, nasolabial folds, eye brows, creases below the corners of the mouth…almost anywhere in the face!  Fat grafting allows subtle facial contour enhancements, similar to having Juvederm or Restylane injections but lasting longer.

recovery after facelift surgery

Dr. Kunkel typically places two drains beneath the skin during surgery.  A gauze dressing is applied.  Most patients spend the first night in the surgical facility.   Dr. Kunkel has patients go by his office the next day on their way home.  In the office they are shown how to take care of the surgical sites.

The drain tubes are usually removed in 1 to 3 days.  Hair may be washed beginning the day after surgery.  Sutures are typically removed 5 to 7 days after surgery.  Make-up may be worn beginning about 10 days after a facelift.

The facial skin feels tight and numb for a few weeks.  The face will be swollen and may have bruising that is noticeable for 3 to 4 weeks.  After 3 to 4 weeks other people may not notice the swelling and bruising, but the tight and numb feelings persist.  Many people take two or three weeks away from their routine activities.

How long do the effects of a facelift last?

The skin and tissues that remain after a facelift still have the same genetic characteristics they had before the surgery. Because of this, some stretching will occur over time. It is possible that a person may want to have another procedure in five or ten years, but this is not common.

facelift surgery risks

Every surgical procedure includes risks. All operations, from hernia repairs to tummy tucks to facelift surgery include risks of infection, bleeding, blood clots, and poor healing.  Risks more unique to rhytidectomy include loss of feeling of facial skin, localized problems with movement of parts of the face, asymmetry of the result, and hair loss.

 



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