As we age, the skin of the face becomes more thin and delicate, and the underlying soft tissues deflate and sag. Facelifting, once a pure skin tightening procedure, has now become more focused on restoring the underlying structures of the face, and gently re-draping the overlying skin over the restored face. Dr Matthew Camp has dedicated much of his academic and clinical career to understanding and refining facial rejuvenation. For a detailed discussion of Dr Matthew Camp’s philosophy regarding facial rejuvenation click Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Approach.
About Facelift Surgery
This procedure is performed in the outpatient surgical center, with the patient asleep under the care of a board certified anesthesiologist. Depending on the extent of what needs to be done, the surgery takes about 2-3 hours. The focus of the surgery is re-suspending the sagging structures of the face, and augmentation of the deflated areas of the face using fat obtained from the patient’s abdomen. The approach involves an incision right in front of the ear, and results in a nearly imperceptible scar. Due to the fact that the emphasis is not on pulling the face tight, but re-draping the tissues over an improved foundation, the scar is very thin.
Before & After
What to Expect During Recovery
You may have tingling sensations on the cheeks as the nerves recover, and your face may feel swollen and snug. There may be some bruising that extends down into the neck, though this is uncommon. Sutures are removed after one week, and you can wear makeup after these are removed. There are staples placed behind the ear, and these are removed in two weeks. Most patients are back up and are presentable in public in one week.
Return to Work
Depending on your role, return to work is one to three weeks. You do not want to engage is physically vigorous activities for the first two weeks as this can cause bruising and sub-optimal scar healing. Individuals with desk jobs are quite able to return to work after one week without anyone asking any awkward questions.
Risks (all incredibly rare)
- Hematoma: blood pooled under the skin
- Damage to buccal branch of the facial nerve (results in weakness in the corner of the mouth)
- Suboptimal scar formation
- Seroma: collection of fluid under the skin
How old do I need to be to have a facelift?
There is no set age for facelifting, as everyone ages at a different rate. Some people are candidates by their 40s and others wait until their 70’s-80’s before having the procedure. The main criteria is having the stereotypical age related changes in the face, being in good health, and not requiring blood thinners. Warfarin, aspirin and fish oil greatly increase the chance of bruising.
How long can I expect my results to last?
Nothing currently available completely stops the aging process, but proper skin protection and abstinence from tobacco and alcohol abuse certainly slow down the hands of time. The average notable benefit of a facelift is seven years.
How much does a face lift cost?
The cost of a basic face and neck lift with no fat grafting required is $8,000.
If fat grafting is required the cost is $11,000. Financing options are available.
Do you perform a mini-facelift?
A mini-facelift does not adequately correct the underlying structures of the face that have caused the skin to slide down in the first place. A mini-facelift only tightens the skin, which brings an additional problem with a high-tension closure. A high-tension closure can result in thick, noticeable scars next to your ears. For more details, please see our blog post A Complete Approach to Facial Aging.
Why can’t you just tighten my excess skin?
The skin is the part of the aging process that we see, so historically facelifts focused on redraping, tightening, and removing loose skin. However, we have since learned that in the absence of correction of deep structures of the face, these surface changes only result in temporary improvement. Simply removing the excess skin hanging off can also bring the possibility of an over-tightened look, which I describe as “an old person skydiving”. These unnatural results do not make the patient look younger and sometimes can look strange.
Why is keeping a low-tension incision so important?
Some facelift techniques such as a mini-facelift only rely on skin tension and that can have undesirable results, such as distortion and elongation of the earlobe, known as “pixie ear”, and widening and thickening of the scar tissue around the ear. I only perform the full face and neck lift procedure to provide a tension free closure which results in a minimal scar, often unnoticeable within two weeks especially because it can be hidden by hair around the ears. The result is a long lasting, natural appearance with minimal down-time.
Do you perform just a neck lift?
No, due to the inter-connectivity of the facial structures, excess skin on the neck is best corrected by fixing the underlying structures of the face and neck. The neck is just where the aging makes its appearance because that is where the sagging is visible. A necklift on its own results in a sub-optimal scar pattern that is very visible on the front of the neck and I do not perform this procedure.
What does facial aging look like?