Face lift surgery “turns back the clock”, improving the visible signs of aging by removing the lines and folds between the cheeks and nose and lips, over the jawline, and in the neck. It removes excess fat and tightens the underlying muscles and skin of your face and neck. It also rejuvenates the middle and lower part of the face, making you look fresher and more youthful and relaxed, and feeling more self-confident.
Dr Cope often combines a face lift with other procedures such as a browlift, which lifts sagging eyebrows, blepharoplasty, which is eyelid surgery to remove skin or fat and fat injections or facial fat transfer, which can be combined to rejuvenate the upper part of the face.
There are also a number of options if you are not ready for face lift surgery, from Thermage lasser skin tightening, to suture lifts or mini-face lifts such as the S-lift. While the effects are not as good or as long-lasting as a proper facelift, the improvement will leave you looking younger and more refreshed.
Many patients who have face lift surgery in Sydney also have the facial skin rejuvenated with skin treatments such as the medical grade Fraxel re:store DUAL laser, Thermage lasser skin tightening, Dermaroller, IPL (intense pulse light), or medical grade peels which improves the texture and appearance of the skin.
Dr Cope stresses the importance of patients stopping smoking at least a few weeks before the surgery as smoking slows blood flow to the skin and increases the chance of healing problems after the surgery. Aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis, and some vitamins and herbal medications including fish oil can cause bleeding and also need to be stopped 10 days before the surgery.
Face lift surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, with the operation taking about 3 hours, and usually requires an overnight stay in hospital.
There are many different ways to complete the procedure, but Dr Cope prefers the longest lasting techniques which involve tightening the deeper muscle layer of the face as well as the skin. *Tightening the muscle layer gives a longer lasting result and reduces the tension on the skin closure, which reduces scaring.
Incisions are hidden mainly within the hairline, in the natural crease in front of the ear, going under and behind the earlobe and back into the scalp, and usually there is also a small incision under the chin. The skin is lifted off the muscle layer and the muscle layer tightened, with any excess fat being removed with liposuction. Following this the loose excess skin is removed and the wound closed.
After surgery, it is important to rest and minimise your activities, with no lifting or heavy duties for 10-14 days. Dr Cope advises patients that there is always some bruising and swelling after the surgery, however wearing an elastic compression garment minimises this. After a few days you can wear makeup to help conceal the bruising.
Postoperative treatments with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) therapy and Omnilux treatments help the swelling to resolve as quickly as possible and help the healing process.
Most patients also have some numbness and tightness, which gradually disappears over a few weeks. The scars from face lift surgery fade with time and are usually not noticeable, although occasionally they require further treatment.
*Most patients may drive again and return to work within 2-3 weeks after face lift surgery. Heavy activities and sport should not be undertaken for one month following the surgery.