Tucson Facelift Surgery Information, Benefits and Risks

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What is a facelift?

A surgical procedure that tightens the skin and underlying structures of the neck and face, leaving a more youthful appearance. A mini-facelift is for a patient who just needs the extra skin slightly tightened. There are a lot of different names being used for variations of a facelift. Some of these include the “lifestyle lift”, “lunch time lift”, “mini-lift”, etc. These different types of facelifts are similar, but vary in complexity. Each facial rejuvenation operation needs to be customized to the patient’s needs and desired outcome.

When is a facelift used?

A facelift is best for people that are healthy and within their normal weight range. It removes excess skin of the neck and face and improves the jowls and jaw line by tightening the underlying tissue. A mini-facelift is appropriate for someone who is young and not ready for a full facelift, but does need the skin tightened. A mini-facelift is also good for someone who has had a facelift in the past and needs it tightened. Some mini-facelifts can be performed in the office under local sedation with minimal downtime.

What is involved at a facelift consultation?

When you come in for your initial consultation, you will meet with both Dr. Maloney and Lindsay, the clinical coordinator. Maloney Plastic Surgery is one of the only practices in Tucson, Arizona to offer Vectra 3D (three dimensional) technology to our patients. One of the first things we will do at your consultation is use VECTRA imaging technology to take a 3D image of your face and neck. The exciting part of the Vectra technology is we can perform a “face lift” on the 3D image and show you how the operation will look on your face in 3D! You will also be given a user number and can access your saved images from home to review with your friends and loved ones if you choose. We are excited and proud to offer this amazing technology to our patients. After Vectra imaging, Dr. Maloney will discuss the differences between a face lift, a mini-face lift and other ancillary procedures that may improve your results. Dr. Maloney will determine if your operation can be done in the office or if it needs to be done at an outpatient surgery center. This will depend on the amount of extra tissue you have, your health conditions, if you need a lot of work done to your neck, patient preference etc. Dr. Maloney will discuss details of the operation, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. Lindsay will review surgical fees and financing options with you. If you choose to have surgery, you will return for another consultation about two weeks prior to your operation. At this second appointment Dr. Maloney will review the surgical plan with you as well as go through consent forms, review your Vectra pre-operative photographs and give you your prescriptions. Lindsay will go over all of your surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave this appointment you will have everything you need for surgery.

How do I prepare for a facelift?

After meeting with Dr. Maloney and choosing a surgical date for your procedure, you should plan for your care and recovery after the operation. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center the day of surgery and arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours. You should take five days to three weeks off of work for this operation depending on the type of work you do (speak to Lindsay, Dr. Maloney’s Clinical Coordinator for additional information). If your employer requires paperwork for time off, please obtain it ahead of time and bring it to our office. If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of two weeks before surgery. We suggest 6-8 weeks, but two weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal slower and can have wound healing problems. Smoking may necessitate modifications to the surgical plan. If you take aspirin or other medications that may cause bleeding, you should stop taking them three weeks before to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), you should stop one week prior to surgery to avoid anesthesia risks. All medications, herbs, vitamins or dietary supplements should be carefully reviewed prior to surgery. If you are under the care of a physician for any health issues, we may require surgical clearance from your physician and/or cardiologist.

At your pre-operative consultation with Dr. Maloney you will be given a map to the surgery center and your prescriptions. Get your prescriptions filled before surgery so they are at home when you will need them. Pick up some bags of frozen peas or corn to use as icepacks after your procedure. You will need to sleep with your head elevated for the first few days to keep swelling and bruising to a minimum. You need to stay hydrated, so have plenty of water or sports drinks around the house. You should also start taking an over-the-counter stool softener as narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

If your surgery is at the surgery center

The morning of surgery you cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight, this includes water. If there are medications you must take the morning of surgery, please make us aware. We may have you take them with a small sip of water depending on the medication. Do not put any lotions, deodorant or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center. You should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout type pants or sweat pants. Bring your photo ID when you check into the surgery center. You will check-in and then be taken back to the pre-operating area where Dr. Maloney will come and discuss the plan, answer any additional questions you have and mark the operative site. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and ask him/her any questions you may have.

If your surgery is in the office

You will take your prescribed pain medication one hour before your operation. Do not put any lotions or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the office. You should wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off. A shirt that zips or buttons up the front is preferable, as are loose workout type pants or sweat pants. When you arrive, you will be brought to the procedure room where Dr. Maloney will mark the operative site for surgery.

How is a facelift performed?

The operation is an outpatient procedure that takes about 2-4 hours. The amount of time in the operating room is determined by how much fat needs to be removed from the neck area and if there are any ancillary procedures being performed at the same time. At the surgery center, the anesthesiologist will put you to sleep or use twilight anesthesia depending on your preference and that of Dr. Maloney. An anesthesiologist is present for this operation to ensure your safety and comfort. If the procedure is small and performed in the office where local sedation is used. Dr. Maloney begins by injecting a numbing medication into the face. The first incision is typically made under the chin to tighten the deeper layers (the vertical bands in your neck). Then, extra fatty tissue is removed or lifted utilizing the incisions around your ears. The underlying structures are lifted and placed into a more appropriate position. The skin is pulled tighter and excess skin is removed. Fat transfers are often performed at the same time to augment the areas of the face that have lost volume due to aging. Both dissolvable and non-dissolving sutures are used with staples to close the incision. Drains (which are removed at your first post-operative visit) may be placed behind the ears to minimize bruising if there is work done to the neck. You will wake up in the recovery room and be ready to go home in about an hour.

What should I expect after a facelift?

You will wear a light compression dressing over the surgical area to minimize swelling and bruising. You should rest and eat a healthy diet high in protein to speed up recovery. You should also drink plenty of fluid and avoid alcohol and smoking. A low-grade fever is not unusual after any operation. All surgeons recommend early and frequent ambulation after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the legs and to speed up your recovery. You may be stiff and sore when you first get up and walk around. The more active you are the better you will feel. You may develop some swelling after surgery. It takes about three weeks to see final results, so be patient during the healing process. You may remove your dressings and shower 1-3 days after surgery depending on what the office tells you. You will return to the office for your first post-operative exam 1-3 days after surgery. If you have any questions during the recovery phase, please do not hesitate to call our office any time, day or night.

What are the benefits of a facelift?

After the procedure you will see improvements in the contour of the neck and jawline. The wrinkles will be reduced and you will have a younger, natural appearance.

What are the risks of a facelift?

A facelift has both aesthetic and health risks, and it is the patient’s personal decision whether the benefits outweigh those risks. The most common risk is slow wound healing behind the ears. Bleeding, nerve injury, and other severe complications are rare. For a full list of risks, go to plasticsurgery.org.