14 Tips You Should Know About the Facelift

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Do you have sagging tissues in the face, deep creases below the lower eye lids, or loss of muscle tone in the lower part of your face? You’re not alone, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and theAcademy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery; facelifts are one of the most common forms of plastic surgery performed to reverse the visible signs of aging in both men and women.

Before opting for a facelift, here are 14 tips that you should know.
1. Who is a surgeon that is properly trained for Facelift Surgery? Have you found one that you like and trust? If you need an electrician, don’t hire a plumber. When looking for a surgeon, look for a Facial Plastic Surgeon or a Plastic Surgeon; be careful about cosmetic surgeons that are not trained primarily on the procedures that you are looking to get done by their primary specialty or board certification.

  • Residency and/or Fellowship Training? Research for physicians that have specified training or residency/fellowship programs in facial plastic surgery by the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery (AAO/HNS), or the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS).
  • Why Board Certification is important? The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is the authority and governing the organization of all approved medical boards in the United States. The ABMS has recognized a few board certifications to be able to claim to be trained to perform facial plastic surgery. Among those are the American Board of Otolaryngology / Head and Neck Surgery (ABOTO) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). The ABMS has also recognized subspecialty training and certification in facial plastic surgery by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) if the physician has also board certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOTO).  Always look for board certified physicians by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS), the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOTO), and/or the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). These board certifications are important in order to identify the surgeons that have been properly trained to perform facial plastic surgery and in the rare event of complications on how to treat them.
2. After checking training and board certification, who is the right surgeon for me? Make appointments with several surgeons before making your decision. Fancy addresses and big buildings/offices are just geography and have nothing to do with the results you get. Also, you are paying for those high rents and marble counter tops/floors. Go for the best surgeon, not the best address. Check online for the surgeons that are teaches to other surgeons.

3. What to ask during your consultation?
  • Always interview your surgeon. Evaluate the way he/she talks to you about the procedure. Is he/she making eye contact while talking to you? Are they nervous? Do they look or sound sincere? This will tell you how much confidence they have on themselves.
  • Check and ask for the number of facelift procedures the physician does a year. If the physician does not make over 40 facelifts a year (less than one a week), look for another surgeon.
  • Ask about before and after photos of your physician results and (if available) computer imaging.
  • Interview the doctor’s patients if possible. Focus on their incision line. Evaluate how much care the physician had in hiding the visible signs of surgery.
4. Your vision. Do you have a clear idea of what you want? Bring in pictures of yourself some 10-15 ago and what you like. That way you can try to avoid miscommunication with your doctor. It’s important to keep in mind that some things are not possible, but there is a lot to work with.

5. Your motivation. It’s important that you already feel good about yourself — that you just want to improve your self-image, refresh your face.
You don’t want to think that having facelift surgery will give you a new life. You should be comfortable with yourself but be looking for confidence and self-improvement.

6. Your expectations. Facial plastic surgery won’t make your husband or wife come back, and it won’t make your employer rehire you. It also won’t make you look like your favorite movie star, make you look thinner or lose weight. Think of it as an enhancement, not a complete change. It’s important to have a good self-image, and the surgeon can help with a little face/body image.

7. Faster home recovery
  • Plan for some amount of discomfort. Discomfort or pain is very different from person to person, but 100% of patients will feel some amount of discomfort. If you have a high pain threshold, your post-op time will be more pleasant than a person that has a low one.
  • Plan for some swelling and bruising. Swelling and bruising is a normal by-product of any surgery. Expect it. Keep some cold compresses on the swollen areas for the first one to two weeks. Keep your head elevated at all times at least the first two weeks.
  • Have a close friend, family member or nurse to stay with you for the first few days or for up to a week. You will be amazed how a little help will make you feel better faster.
8. Your emotional state. If you’re going through emotional trauma — you just lost your spouse, got divorced, are depressed — don’t have cosmetic surgery.
Many people feel blue after facelift surgery. Your face is swollen and bruised, and you don’t have much energy because of the anesthesia. It’s important to be in a healthy emotional state because if you’re already depressed you will feel worse and this could impact your healing. Your face can take longer to heal.
After any plastic surgery avoid the temptation to look in the mirror every 15 minutes (it is human nature to do this). Swelling and bruising will not be gone in 10-15 minutes. This behavior will only add to your emotional stress.

9. Your support system. Because you’ll feel blue, you need people backing up your decision, people who can see you through the rough times. You do not want to be alone during this time. You also need some help the first few days in order to take care of your incision areas. Let someone pamper you. If you do not have a family member or a friend, then consider hiring for a person that takes care of plastic surgery patients.

10. The expense. You don’t want this surgery to add to any financial troubles you might be facing currently.

11. The risks. Like any surgery, there are routine risks associated with anesthesia, blood loss, infections. But cosmetic surgery has specific risks — there could be some asymmetry, a less-than-desirable outcome, slow healing. Be realistic. Are you prepared to deal with that?

12. A second surgery. Some 15% to 20% of nose surgeries (rhinoplasty) have to be redone. Even facelifts need touchups. Sometimes there’s a little asymmetry, a little pucker. Some problems have to be fine-tuned and if revision is needed, be prepared to go for it. Also, remember that if you have an asymmetry before surgery, most probably you will have some sort of asymmetry after surgery.

13. After surgery. Healing is a slow process and it takes a long time to be able to appreciate the final results. It also takes a while for swelling and bruising to go down. You need to be patient. Give things at least six to nine months. Results could continue to develop up to a year in some cases or surgeries. In my opinion waiting for that year is the hardest part of the surgery. Everyone heals at their own rate and there is no way of knowing how you will heal before time.

14. Going back to work. Give yourself 7-10 days before you start your normal labor schedule. Depending on the nature of your job or employer, you might be able to go back to work or do lighter job duties sooner; but always prepare for those 7-10 days.
Facelifts have come a long way. Early on. Facelifts just tightened the skin, but today’s facelifts do more by repositioning muscle, skin and fat.

The best candidates for facelift surgery are people who show some signs of facial aging but still have some elasticity. Before getting a facelift, you should be in good health and have realistic expectations. A facelift won’t completely erase your years; the goal is to have a refreshed, less tired look. If you go back to pictures of yourself some 8-12 years ago and you like what you see, that is a realistic way of how you should look after a facelift.
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Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon