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Face Lift 


A face lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to improve the appearance of aging facial skin.  It is one of the most frequently performed cosmetic treatments.  Face lifts are most popular among people in their forties to sixties; however, they are also appropriate for people in their seventies and eighties.  A face lift is used to create a younger-looking, refreshed, and healthy face.  A face lift may be performed at the same time as a forehead lift, eyelid lift, nose reshaping, and skin resurfacing treatments.

A face lift removes excess fat and sagging skin which has lost elasticity from the lower portion of the face, jaw line, and neck.  It improves the appearance of wrinkles or excess skin located on the cheeks, neck, or that run from the corner of the nose to the corner of the mouth.  A face lift removes or softens jowls and sagging skin on the cheeks and neck to create an angular well-defined jaw line.

During your initial consultation, your doctor will examine your skin’s texture, elasticity, and thickness, as well as its wrinkles and folds.  Your doctor will evaluate your bone structure and hairline where the incisions will be made.  You should point out the areas of your face that concern you.  Your doctor will explain how a face lift or a face lift and additional procedures can help to meet your expectations. 

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A face lift is usually an outpatient procedure; however, people receiving multiple procedures may spend the night for observation.  A face lift is performed at a doctor’s surgical suite, hospital, or outpatient surgery center.  The procedure may be performed under general anesthesia, but local anesthesia and sedation may also be used.  A face lift may take from two to five hours, depending on the extent of the procedure.

There are various methods to perform a face lift, which may depend on your surgeon’s preference.  To begin the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your hairline that runs from the front of your ear, around the crease behind your ear, and then into your hairline.  Your skin will be lifted to allow the surgeon to tighten and reposition the muscles and tissues beneath the skin.  Excess tissue and fat will be removed.  In some cases, a small incision is made beneath the chin to access the neck area which allows access for skin and fat removal and muscle tightening in the neck.  A temporary drainage tube may be inserted to remove excess fluids.  When the procedure is complete, the incisions are closed with tiny stitches or clips and bandaged.

Bruising and swelling is commonly experienced for the first few days following a face lift.  Pain is typically minimal and can be relieved with medication or by keeping your head elevated.  Your doctor will provide you with guidelines for increasing your activity level.  The stitches, clips, and drainage tubes are typically removed within the first week following your surgery. 

Most people return to work in about ten days to two weeks following their surgery.  Healing is gradual.  It may take a few months for you to feel your best.  If you are in your forties, the results of your face lift may last up to ten years.  If you are in your sixties, the results may last from five to seven years.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit