The facelift (rhytidectomy, or sometimes facialplasty) procedure is designed to rejuvenate the face and neck by removing excess skin, correcting sagging, and uplifting the internal facial structures. In most cases, a facelift really means face and neck lift. Lifting the facial structures can restore the beauty of the face and the neck. Modern facelift techniques can help maintain the youthful appearance of the face into later years, which can improve confidence and self-esteem. Many patients state that they actually feel younger after a facelift procedure because they look younger. A key part of achieving an outcome that is natural-looking and long-lasting is to select an extensively trained and board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Stephen Herring.

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Who Is a Good Candidate for Facelift Surgery?

The most important part of determining if you are a good candidate for this procedure is to confirm you are in good general health, your expectations for the results are appropriate, and you are prepared to follow the recovery instructions to ensure the best possible result. As for signs of aging, the decision to get a facelift is a personal one. In simple terms, the indication (or reason) for a facelift is to trim, lift, and restore loose sagging skin on the face. For some patients, the slightest sign of aging is reason enough for a facelift. Other patients choose to get a facelift after significant signs of aging appear. The decision to get a facelift depends entirely upon the goals of the patients—and those goals vary widely.


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What Concerns Can a Facelift Treat?

Facial sagging (ptosis) is a result of the natural aging process and external factors. Aging causes the skin to become less elastic, which results in skin sagging. The skin and internal facial structures migrate towards the mouth which results in “jowling” (large deep cheek crease). The facial bone structures shrink with increasing age, especially in women. As the facial bones shrink, there is less support to hold out the facial skin, and this gives the appearance of excess sagging skin. The skin of the neck also changes with age and begins to droop or sag. The neck skin and the internal structures move towards the midline (front) of the neck, resulting in wrinkling. The flat neck muscle (platysma) relaxes and lengthens, which gives the “turkey gobbler” appearance and the “banding” (two vertical lines) in the front of the neck. Facelift surgery is designed to address these issues and restore a more youthful-looking appearance that is as natural as possible.

The comments below have been made to Dr. Herring as a reason for getting a facelift:

These excellent examples showcase some of the primary concerns patients have that can corrected with facelift surgery.

“I was looking for a doctor who had a great deal of experience and confidence in their craft. Dr. Herring checked all the boxes of what I was looking for.”

Is there anything I can do to minimize development of these signs of aging?

The reasons for needing a facelift can be divided into two causes, which are natural aging and external factors. Natural aging occurs with everyone, and there is probably some genetic component to the aging process that causes some patients to age faster than others. Genetic factors cannot be controlled. However, some external factors that accelerate the aging process can be lessened to some degree and others avoided altogether. One factor that can be lessened is exposure to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight causes skin aging and is also related to the formation of skin cancer. Avoiding excessive sun exposure and using sunscreen and protective clothing can help slow the aging process. Another factor that can cause skin aging is exposure to tobacco products. Tobacco products are also related to other diseases, including cancer. Avoidance of tobacco products is always recommended to patients for those reasons.

How Is the Facelift Procedure Performed?

The facelift procedure pulls the facial skin and internal structures towards the ear and also tightens the neck like a corset through a series of incisions, which are concealed around the ear and under the neck. In many patients, the flat neck muscle is pulled forward and tightened to help support the tissue under the chin. If patients have excess fat in the neck, it can be removed by liposuction through a small incision under the chin. After the neck muscle is tightened, the extra skin is pulled towards the ear and trimmed from the front of the ear and behind the ear. This can be simulated by pushing the face and neck skin towards the ear with the fingers. The facelift does not correct skin texture (crepe paper wrinkling). Fine wrinkling is corrected by a different method (see the laser resurfacing section). The facelift does not correct extra skin around the eyes or drooping eyebrows. These problems are corrected with different procedures.

The facelift procedure can be performed under general anesthesia or sedation with local anesthesia. Many plastic surgeons prefer to use sedation with local anesthesia for a number of reasons, and this is the technique preferred by Dr. Herring. The anesthesia for facelift is performed by an experienced certified anesthesia professional.

What Is Recovery from Facelift Surgery Like?

The recovery period for a facelift takes about two to three weeks, but many patients will go out in public after about one week. For the first few days after surgery, a head bandage is placed to absorb any drainage and to help hold the flaps in place. Facial make-up can be used after several days. During the first week, there will be some facial swelling and bruising. This usually resolves in about a week to ten days. The recovery period varies from patient to patient, but usually in one week the recovery is well on the way. It does take longer for the final healing to take place, but most patients are able to resume most routine activities after about one week. After about three weeks, full activity is possible for most patients.

Will I Have Scars after Facelift Surgery?

During the facelift procedure, Dr. Herring uses advanced techniques to create incisions within the hairline and well hidden contours of the face and ears. After surgery, patients may notice that the scars are reddish and/or raised, but as time goes on, the scars should gradually flatten out and become less visible. To help the incisions heal properly and minimize scarring, we strongly advise patients to follow the post-operative instructions that Dr. Herring provides.

How Long Do Facelift Results Last?

Patients can typically enjoy their facelift results for 10 to 15 years. The outcomes are intended to be long-lasting; however, the natural aging process will still occur and may affect the facelift results. Other factors, such as genetics and lifestyle choices, can also change your facelift outcomes. After surgery, Dr. Herring can offer suggestions on certain habits (e.g. good skin care routine) or lifestyle changes (e.g. reducing exposure to the sun) that can prolong your results. If desired or needed, he can also perform a touch-up procedure later on to help you maintain a more rejuvenated appearance. Overall, individuals who do undergo facelift treatment will still look younger than if they never had the procedure in the first place.

How Much Does a Facelift Cost?

The average cost of facelift surgery can range from $7,200 to $9,800. The quoted price does not include labs or other fees. To ensure you have the best information at your disposal, our medical team will provide a detailed account of the full cost of your treatment plan at your initial consultation. We understand that you need time to make a decision, and we want to help you get started with the full and correct facts.

*According to 2017 stats from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons

More Information About Facelifts

To help you make the best decision for you, Dr. Herring has answered some of the most commonly asked questions about facelift surgery. If you would like to know more, we recommend calling our office to schedule a consultation.

Does a facelift last forever?

A facelift does not last forever. That does not mean you will have to get another facelift at a later time. The facelift procedure does not stop the aging process, but the improvement means that you will always be better than if you never got the procedure. Unless you have a health problem, it is usually possible to get another facelift many years later if it is indicated and you wish to get a revision.

Does facelift surgery hurt a lot?

Most patients have very little discomfort with a facelift. There are some patients that have more discomfort than average with a facelift, but most patients have very little discomfort, and the discomfort is easily controlled with pain medicine.

Does a facelift address the entire face?

A facelift is designed to improve only the lower face and neck, it does not address the entire face. Although, there are some complementary procedures that you may include in your treatment plan if you would like a more comprehensive facial rejuvenation. For example, you may want to have an eyelid lift (blepharoplasty) with your facelift if you want to address signs of aging in the upper and/or lower eyelids for a more complete transformation.

What types of anesthesia are used with a facelift?

The type of anesthesia used for facelift varies depending upon the preference of the plastic surgeon, and the patient’s preference. One preferred technique for facelift anesthesia is the combination of intravenous (IV) anesthesia and local anesthesia. This technique is commonly used for facelift. Other techniques include general anesthesia (completely asleep) or local anesthesia alone. Dr. Herring’s preferred technique for a facelift is intravenous sedation given by a trained anesthesia professional and local anesthesia (similar to the solution dentists use).

How can I reduce swelling after facelift surgery?

Swelling and bruising are normal after facelift surgery and typically begin to dissipate after several days. Here are some tips to help the swelling go down during the recovery process:

  • Keep your head elevated (above the heart) at all times, even when sleeping
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications as prescribed
  • Limit strenuous activities
  • Avoid smoking and/or consuming alcohol
  • Rest, relax, and sleep as needed

If you experience an excessive amount of swelling or have other post-operative concerns, please contact our office so that we can further assist you.

At what age should I consider a facelift?

There is no particular age at which a facelift is most appropriate. The decision to get a facelift is a personal one, so the age a patient gets a facelift varies from patient to patient. It is the physical condition of the tissues of the face and neck and not the specific age that best determines the time for a facelift.

Where are the incisions located for a facelift?

The preferred location of incisions varies from plastic surgeon to plastic surgeon, but the incisions are usually in the same general location. The main incisions, located around the ears, are usually placed in the same general location. The main incision for the facelift starts just in front of the ear and continues around to the back of the ear. This location is chosen because it can be concealed with many hairstyles. A second incision is often made just underneath the chin in order to repair the tissues of the neck.

Is a facelift different for men versus women?

Since a facelift procedure is customized for each individual, it makes sense that a facelift performed for a male patient would be different from a facelift personalized for a female patient. Dr. Herring will consider the following to map out an ideal surgical plan for each person:

  • Skin thickness
  • Underlying structures
  • Depth of aging
  • Bone Structure
  • Aesthetic desires to suit a masculine or feminine appearance

With every facelift procedure, Dr. Herring does his best to improve the patient’s overall appearance without diminishing their unique features.

Can I have other procedures at the same time as a facelift?

Yes. Many patients get additional procedures at the same time as a facelift. Other procedures that are sometimes done with a facelift include an eyelid lift (blepharoplasty), laser skin resurfacing, brow lift, and liposuction. A common request at the same time as facelift is laser skin resurfacing, which helps correct the fine skin wrinkling that is seen with aging.

What is the best source of information for facelift surgery?

The best source for information regarding a facelift is a plastic surgeon trained to perform this procedure. Information on a facelift can be obtained from many sources, but the experienced plastic surgeon can diagnose the specific problems and explain the treatments that are available. There are many different techniques available, and the options will be discussed at your consultation. At this initial meeting, printed information on the facelift will be given to you and you will be able to ask questions.

Interested in learning more about facelift surgery with Dr. Herring? Talk to our medical team and schedule a consultation to find out if this procedure is right for you.