Rhytidectomies, more commonly referred to as facelifts, lift and tighten the face through the tightening of tissue, removal of excess skin, and smoothing of folds and wrinkles.
Prior to any procedure, invasive or otherwise, it is important you understand what to expect. Below, we will break down what to expect before, during and after your facelift.
Before any type of procedure is performed, you will meet with a facial plastic surgeon to discuss your options. Your first visit will include a little bit of data collection – medical history, medication review, facial exam and lots of conversation.
The surgeon will certainly be interested in understanding past and present medical conditions and whether or not you’ve had any other facial procedures previously performed. This is especially important because if previous procedures were performed, and there were any complications, detail about those complications will help inform the surgeon’s decisions about how best to proceed. In this case, your surgeon might opt to request medical records from your doctor(s). Your surgeon will also need to know about previous procedures in case there is scar tissue that needs to be taken into consideration.
Additionally, you’ll have to reveal any history of smoking and/or drug and alcohol use since this could impact the healing process.
A medication review just consists of providing the name and dosages of all regularly taken medications. This would include things like prescription drugs, herbal medicines, vitamins, and birth control.
Typically during this type of visit, the facial plastic surgeon will take a look at your face from various different angles. This allows the surgeon to study fat distribution in the face, bone structure and facial shape. Some surgeons will even take photographs.
The most exciting part of the visit is typically the planning discussion. This is where you get to tell the surgeon exactly what you want, or what is bothering you. This should be a two-way conversation and it will often be a back and forth of questions between surgeon and patient. The surgeon should provide you with a realistic set of expectations in terms of what can and cannot be done to refresh your face.
Just like with other types of surgical procedures, there are some pre-procedure guidelines that the surgeon’s office will outline for you. These guidelines will likely start 2-3 weeks ahead of your procedure. If any of your current medications need to be stopped, you will receive that direction during this time.
In some cases, laboratory tests or EKGs may be required. Many surgeons suggest refraining from nicotine products for 2-3 weeks, and refraining from alcohol for about 1 week prior to surgery.
Customary to surgery, you will likely need to avoid eating or drinking anything the night before – timing can depend on doctor. Many surgeons request patients shower and wash their hair and face with germicidal soap the morning of the procedure.
Surgeons require that patients avoid makeup or hair products the day of surgery. It’s also required that patients refrain from wearing jewelry. It’s suggested that patients wear loose-fitting clothing and nothing that is pulled over the head.
There are different approaches and types of facelifts, depending on the individual patient and their surgeon. Some facelifts are outpatient while others are performed in a hospital. Dependent on the approach, a facelift can be performed using local anesthesia or general anesthesia. This is the difference between being somewhat conscious and totally unconscious. Dr. Michael Bassiri-Tehrani, a distinguished NYC-based facial plastic surgeon, performs facelifts with the use of “twilight anesthesia” when safe to do so. This reduces the risks of complications due to full general anesthesia while ensuring patient comfort.
Regardless of whether the procedure is outpatient or inpatient, it is recommended by most surgeons to have someone who can help escort you home. That person can be helpful in other ways too. When it comes to caring for yourself after surgery, it is a good idea to have the surgeon explain things to you and the person who will be helping you get home.
It is 100% normal after surgery to experience some minor discomfort, swelling, bruising, numbness and drainage. If anything happens beyond that, the doctor will typically urge you to call them immediately.
The first few days after surgery, patients are asked to rest with the head elevated and apply cold packs to the face for pain and swelling.
There will some follow-up appointments that will be scheduled before you even go in for surgery. The day after your surgery, you will visit the surgeon so he or she can remove any kind of drainage tubes, apply ointments and change the bandages.
A few days later, you might be able to switch from bandages to a facial sling. It depends on your surgeon’s preferences. Finally, about a week after surgery, the surgeon will typically assess the incisions and provide you with any additional post-procedure instructions.
If you’re interested in finding out whether a facelift is right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bassiri-Tehrani.
Based in New York City, Doctor Bassiri-Tehrani is double board-certified and specializes exclusively in cosmetic treatments of the face, nose and neck.
To schedule a consultation and understand what your options are, call (212) 339-2001 or email [email protected].