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Face Lift: All You Need to Know

Face Lift: All You Need to Know

What is a face lift?

Years ago face lifts only tightened skin.
Also known as Rhytidectomy, a face lift procedure aims to reposition muscle, skin and fat to achieve a youthful appearance in terms of facial symmetry, skin tautness and fine lines reduction.
When face lifts are mentioned, what comes to mind for most people usually involves plastic and reconstructive surgery. These invasive cosmetic surgery procedures are usually carried out by plastic surgeons.

However, the associated risks of complications and longer recovery time needed for wound healing that comes with traditional facelifts have given rise to the popularity of aesthetic doctors who perform non-invasive and minimally invasive facelift techniques. Regardless of whether a patient decides on facial plastic surgery or aesthetic facial procedures, a face lift works well to turn back the clock for their appearance.

About face lifts

Aging makes the skin and tissues lose their elasticity. Over time, our skin sags and develop wrinkles as well as deep creases. This is due to soft tissue migration, cumulative sun damage as well as a combination of other factors such as an unhealthy lifestyle and poor skin care routines. Aesthetic and surgical procedures lifts and tightens these facial tissues, potentially taking years or even a decade off your true age.

Areas of application

Face lifts are typically done on the face and neck. We can further subdivide the face into three compartments: upper, middle, and lower face. Procedures for the upper face include forehead lift, reduction of creases and fine lines, brow lifts, etc. Middle face procedures include the very popular double eyelid formation, nose augmentation for enhancement of the bridge and tip of nose, eye bag reduction, periorbital rejuvenation, treatment of nasolabial folds and tightening of the cheeks. For the lower face, this includes treatment of Marionette lines, pre-jowl sulcus, lip augmentation, and chin or jaw enhancement etc. Excess skin and fat under the chin are tightened to improve the appearance of the neck.

Why is it needed?

Face lift is one of the best options to reverse the effects of aging.
It can turn back time and reclaim your youth. A face lift can erase aging signs such as sagging of the cheeks, excess skin at your jaw, folds of skin due to gravity as well as accumulation of excess fat in the neck.

The need for a proper consultation

In this day and age, complications from facelift surgeries are rare and cosmetic procedures are generally safe as long as they are carried out by a qualified and experienced professional.
That said, any procedure comes with risk. You can reduce the risk by first and foremost, selecting a trusted and experienced doctor. Other complications can be mitigated with appropriate care, medication or surgical correction. Prevention is better than cure, and can go a long way to diminish the hazards of long-term or permanent complications which, while rare, can cause significant changes in appearance.

Before and after pictures

  • To be updated

Types of face lift procedures

What are your options for a face lift?

1. Nonsurgical face lift

How to lift face without surgery?
Well, non-surgical facelifts involve a combination of skin repair and tightening, laser resurfacing treatments and facial injectables like dermal fillers to add volume and support. Minimally invasive (and nonsurgical) procedures don’t require large incisions or hospitalisation.

A popular and trusted non-surgical face lift in the market now is Ultherapy by Ulthera. Utilising micro focused ultrasound with visualization, it has been proven to be an effective nonsurgical facial rejuvenation procedure that addresses early signs of aging such as excess eyelid skin, sagging cheeks or jowls and loose skin on the neck. Using ultrasound, it is relatively painless, requires no needles and downtime. The procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes for the face and neck.
Another two examples are Thermage and Titan. Thermage employs radio-frequency energy while Titan uses infrared.
On the other hand, Silhouette Soft thread lift is minimally invasive. This procedure places temporary coned threads in the face, brow, jowls or neck under local anaesthetic to produce an immediate lifting effect.

2. Cosmetic laser surgery

Laser resurfacing of the face is another popular choice as an age reversal method. This technique directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, resulting in vaporising superficial layers of facial skin.
Also known as laser peel, this creates a fresh surface over which new skin can grow. The new skin essentially replaces the old, consequently reduces wrinkles, blemishes and lines caused by sun damage and facial expressions, as well as scars, folds and creases around the nose and mouth.

3. Plastic Surgery Facelift

Plastic surgery involves cutting, loosening, and re-sewing parts of the body together. With recent breakthroughs in the medical aesthetics field, plastic surgery is lesser in demand since many non-invasive procedures had proven to be just as effective (if not more) minus the downtime and risks.
If one opts for a plastic surgery facelift, the procedure involves hours of surgery where the doctor would meticulously snip, pull, lift, re-arrange and stitch the skin of the areas involved. This is done under local anaesthetic (or sometimes general anaesthesia) to numb the treatment areas prior to the surgery. Some clear sutures were left to dissolve inside the face over time, while other surface stitches were taken out after about a week or two.
A patient’s face generally feels tight after plastic surgery, and there is almost always some bruising and swelling. While bed rest is not necessary, the patient should refrain from driving or vigorous activities within the first week for up to 10 days after surgery.

The bruising diminishes in about two weeks following which the stitches can be removed too. After a month, the patient may resume all activities.

4. Do creams and topical medications work?

Many face creams brands claimed their products to be the best face lift creams. Most are formulated to lift and firm the look of the skin besides boosting the skin’s radiance. Some promise to deliver hydration to the deeper layers, to improve elasticity and to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Ultimately these creams are meant for external applications and perceived to be less of a risk since they are non-invasive. While they may be a cheaper alternative compared to a face lift procedure performed by a professional, in reality, the efficacy pales in comparison. No cream will give you the same significant results as a face-lift would. Creams may help to improve skin appearances over time, but creams can’t work as dramatically as a face lift.
Nevertheless, other benefits derived from applying creams for your skin include exfoliation and moisturisation. Some creams may even reduce the appearance of pores and wrinkles, issues of which a surgical face-lift can’t resolve.

Enter also the growing throng of face lift tapes, face lift mask, face lift threading and face lift massages. All these persist as theoretically possible methods to help treat sagging skin but none would give you effective results like a true face lift would. 

Possible complications

How long do the results last?

On average your new look should last for five to ten years. However as you will continue to age after the face-lift, further maintenance may be required to preserve the work done. The objective is to age well as one cannot stop the natural aging process. Nevertheless, you will have saved five to ten years compared to not having the face lift done.

All things considered, taking care of your skin and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle can prolong the results of your face lift.

Safety and risks

To achieve the best results and to minimise scarring after any procedure, follow your doctor’s care instructions and limit physical activity as much as possible until your doctor has given the green light.
It is advisable to avoid sun exposure during the healing process and apply extra sunscreen if you must be outdoors to prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring.

Complications

A face lift procedure carried out by qualified and experienced professionals have low to little risk.
However, unwanted complications may still occur despite practicing the best protocols and following guidelines. Therefore, patients should always be aware of the risks and complications of facelift procedures:

Mild complications:
Bruising
Scarring
Acute Infection
Numbness
Fever
Loss of hair around the incision site
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Serious complications: 
Allergy to anesthesia
Damage to the nerves
Chronic infection
Hematoma
Excessive Bleeding
Skin or tissue death
Thickening of scars

If there is swelling, unusual pain or inflammation after the surgery, patient should visit the doctor for reassessment immediately. Detection at an early stage will allow for remedying of the situation and preventing it from getting worse.

Preparing for a facelift

Understanding the procedure – face lift

Every individual and face is different and while you might achieve better results in the hands of an expert, a perfect face isn’t guaranteed. Your bone structure, cartilage and skin come into play here. You can’t change your facial structure completely, but you can take years off your face.
At times, plastic surgery may be the only option (in more severe cases) to achieve the patients desired outcomes. Hence it is important that you are clear about your expectations during the consultation with your doctor so he or she can outline the best treatment that suits you best.

Self care and follow up appointments

Your doctor would dispense post procedural care and advice including wound care management, skin care routine, dietary guidelines, nutrition recommendations, change in lifestyle habits (eg, no smoking or alcohol) and reduction of physical activities. As each individual differs, so will the recovery time. Some patients inevitably heal quicker than others. Keeping in close contact with your doctor will help mitigate any unnecessary complications. Patients should also take prescribed medications diligently.

Choosing a reliable provider

Certifications

Choosing a doctor shouldn’t be taken lightly, since it concerns the quality of your health and potentially a matter of life or death. A certified and licensed doctor is the minimum requirement when one seeks a doctor but a truly great doctor goes beyond paper qualifications.
As a start, a trusted certification qualifies that the doctor meets minimum standards to treat patients. If the doctor is part of a specialty board or is known in the industry for his expertise on the subject matter, it demonstrates that a doctor has gone above and beyond the basics of medical training and has achieved further training and experience in his/her specialty.
Regulations differ from country to country and as for Malaysia, aesthetic doctors are required to have the Letter of Credentialing and Privileging (LCP).
Do not believe in advertising alone or restrict yourself based on budget. In the course of your research, investigate for reliable reviews and real life testimonials from other satisfied patients to learn more about the doctor’s competency.

Expertise

A certified doctor is a good start but a doctor who has proven to be up-to- date with the latest clinical and scientific developments in his or her specialty would be a bonus. If a doctor is a respected figure in his or her subject field, and has been trained in the latest techniques and medical approaches, the doctor would be in a better position to offer accurate advice.
That said, find one you like and trust. After all a doctor-patient relationship involves a lot of trust.

Shortlist several potential doctors and arrange for consultation. During the face to face meeting, check out the clinic and staff. Look for certifications and achievements. Request to view Before and After pictures of past patients who had gone through the same procedure as the one you are seeking. Ask for computer imaging which will help to articulate your expectations more effectively, and for him/her, to be able to assess your situation better.
Consider how you feel during the discussion. Are you comfortable with this person? Are your queries answered satisfactorily? Was he or she helpful?

Then hear him or her out as the doctor recommends the best solutions for you after considering your medical history, current health and desired results. Last but not least, you should discuss the risks and costs.

Cost

It is wise to check for market rates but do not let cost be the main deciding factor in your search for a face lift.
Ultimately, you have one face and one body for the rest of your life. Love yourself enough to choose wisely for your health.

Conclusion/Final Thoughts:

A face lift will not completely erase your years; but if your goal is to have a refreshed and less tired face, then a face lift should be considered. Even though the aging process continues, patients can opt for future procedures to maintain their looks and to age gracefully.
In current times, non-surgical face lift alternatives had proven to be safe and effective in offering the lifted, toned and tightened effect without going under the knife so there is no need to make hasty decisions since facial rejuvenation solutions are abundant. Take your time to consult, research and decide on which is the best for you.

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