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Face lift

What is a face lift?

A face lift (rhytidectomy) is a surgical procedure that will give you a refreshed and more youthful appearance. It ‘reverses’ the ageing that shows on the face as the years advance and the skin sags and loses its elasticity, while facial muscles and fat deposits change, too. The procedure involves repositioning fat in the facial area, and / or the neck and chin. This changes the contours of the face, and the skin is repositioned, with excess skin being removed.


With a face lift, the signs of ageing are corrected and you can look forward to a firmer face, with a significant reduction of sagging and folds of skin in the cheeks, jowls and jaw, as well as the neck and chin area, and fewer lines and wrinkles.


How do I plan for my face lift surgery?
Your initial consultation with your surgeon will be the first step to a face lift procedure. At this stage, you and your surgeon will discuss your expectations, so that you have a good understanding of what can be achieved and what the realistic expectations should be.

Your surgeon will take photos of your face and examine its shape and bone structure, and will also discuss with you the various facial cosmetic surgery options, such as whether your face lift will include a neck lift.

He or she will explain the face lift procedure to you so you’re fully informed, before you make the decision to go ahead.

What is the procedure for a face lift?
During the face lift procedure the facial skin is pulled back, and the fat and muscle below are surgically repositioned or redistributed. This is how the re-contouring of the face is achieved. Excess skin will then be removed before the flaps of skin on either side of the face are sutured closed.

A face lift can also include a neck lift, which will reduce sagging skin and fat in the neck and under the chin.

With most cosmetic surgery procedures, there are variations in techniques and every surgeon will have his or her own preferred techniques and approaches, developed over their years of experience, aimed at achieving the best outcome.

How should I prepare for a face lift?

It is always advisable to stop smoking for 2 – 4 weeks prior to any surgery, and this applies to a face lift as well. Nicotine retards the healing process, and quitting for as long as possible before surgery helps improve blood flow.

You will also have to have a blood test before surgery is performed.

You should stop taking certain medication, like aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs, in the days prior to your surgery. Avoid recreational drugs, and disclose to your surgeon any other medication you’re taking, since you may need to adjust these.

Make sure that you have someone to drive you – especially when leaving the clinic, since you will not be able to drive while taking post-operative pain medication or sedatives.

Where will my face lift surgery be performed?
The procedure will be performed in one of our fully equipped operating theatres.
What anaesthetic will be used for my face lift?

Facelifts can be performed under general anaesthesia, or under a local anaesthetic with sedation. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you, and your choice may depend on the complexity of the procedure you have chosen.

How do I recover from my face lift?

You can expect to experience some pain, swelling, and discomfort in the first 2 to 4 days, but you will be given medication for relief. The discomfort will gradually decrease in the first week, and you may return to work within 3 to 6 weeks, depending on which facelift procedure you’ve had.

What can I expect after my surgery?
The initial swelling, bruising and discomfort you will feel are normal. Drainage tubes are often used for the first 24 hours, to remove fluid and some blood, as well as cold compresses. There will be sutures over the incision areas and you will have bandages and gauze dressings.

You should keep the dressing clean and dry for at least 48 hours and avoid baths, hot tubs or swimming for about 6 weeks. You will need to sleep with your head in an elevated position for the first few nights.

When can I return to normal activities?
You should be able to return to work within one to two weeks, and gradually return to normal activities within four to six weeks, easing into your exercise routine or other physical activity. Eat soft foods for the first few days after surgery. Take time to get back to normal.

Your surgeon will give you a full list of do’s and don’ts, including how long to wait before driving, showering or engaging in other activities.

What are the risks involved in face lift surgery?

With a face lift, like all other surgery, there is a (low) risk of post-operative infection, bleeding, swelling, or an adverse reaction to anaesthesia. Long-term risks that can affect appearance are rare, and can include raised scarring, haematoma (blood collecting under the skin), nerve injury and numbness, hair loss near the incision, and skin loss due to interrupted blood supply – which can be treated with medication.