Although there are lots of non-surgical treatments out there today, as well as minimally invasive surgical procedures, none of them really fully replace the surgical facelift. That’s because only a facelift will significantly tighten skin in the lower part of the face and neck area and reduce signs of aging caused by loose, excess skin.
While a facelift is unique in what it does, it might not be the best treatment option for every patient. If you’ve been looking at your face in the mirror and have been concerned about wrinkles, sagging or other issues lately, here are a few signs that you might be ready for a facelift.
You Have Some Sagging
Perhaps the number one sign that you’re a candidate for a facelift is the presence of sagging or loose skin around the cheeks and neck. The sagging skin might create folds and wrinkles over your cheeks, jowls near the jawline, or a droopy or sagging neck. Along with sagging skin, you might also have fat deposits that have shifted lower on your face or loose or weak muscles.
While you do need to have a fair amount of loose or sagging skin to benefit from a facelift procedure, it’s also important that you not have too much laxity in your skin. People who still have some elasticity in their skin often see the best results from a facelift, as their skin is able to spring back better after the procedure. The more elastic your skin is, the shorter your recovery period is likely to be.
Being in good health is also critical if you hope to have a facelift. Good health means all over health. Your surgeon will recommend a full medical exam before your procedure, typically that exam will include blood tests to make sure your immune system, liver, and other organs are functionally properly, as well as a blood pressure reading and blood sugar levels. Unmanaged or uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes rules you out as a candidate for facelift.
Depending on your age, your surgeon might also ask you to have an echocardiogram or other test to monitor the function and health of your heart. Any signs of heart disease or other issues with the heart can increase your risk for complications during or after a facelift.
Your mental and emotional health are also worth considering before a facelift. Your surgeon will most likely ask you about your feelings about the surgery and about why you want it, to get a sense of whether you are emotionally prepared for the procedure or not.
You’ve Got Loose, But Elastic Skin
Patients who benefit from facelifts are patients who have some degree of loose or sagging skin. If you’re beginning to develop jowls or have a bit of droop in your cheeks, the surgery might be right for you. But, it’s important to know that it’s possible to have skin that is too loose or too saggy to actually benefit from a facelift.
As you age, your body produces less and less collagen, the protein that gives skin its elasticity and firmness. A slight drop in collagen leads to some sagging. A drastic drop in collagen, however, can make it difficult for the surgeon to get good results from a facelift. When there’s little to no elasticity left in your facial skin, it won’t respond to the surgical procedure quite right and the results you get might not be what you’d hoped to get.
For that reason, facelift surgery is often recommended for patients in their 40s or 50s. A 70-something patient can still benefit from the surgery, depending on his or her skin types. But, it’s more likely for the skin of a 70-year-old person to be less elastic than the skin of a 40 or 50-something.
You Don’t Smoke (or are ready to quit)
Smoking can increase your risk for complications from a facelift, as the nicotine in tobacco products slows down blood flow. It increases your risk for poor healing or infection after the surgery. Usually, a facelift is only recommended to people who don’t currently smoke or to people are who willing to stop smoking several weeks before surgery. Although you can return to smoking several weeks after a facelift, to get the best, and longest lasting results, being ready to quit for good typically makes you a better candidate for surgery.
You’re Not Looking to Change Who You Are
Understanding what a facelift can or can’t do is an important step to being ready for the procedure. For example, if you are hoping that the surgery will vastly improve your life, make others like you more, or lead to more job offers, you might not quite understand the limitations of it. But, if you understand that the procedure is designed to take a few years off of your appearance and that it won’t fundamentally change your appearance or who you are as a person, you are most likely ready for the surgery.
You’ve Got Reasonable Expectations
You want to think of the emotional and mental effects of a facelift, not just the physical, when deciding if it’s the right choice for you. Getting older is tough on everyone, and you want to make sure you’re having a facelift for the right reasons.
For example, you might not benefit from the surgery if you go into it thinking it will make you look like a 22-year-old movie star or if you are expecting it to improve all areas of your life. Typically, a facelift takes anywhere from five to 10 years off of a person’s appearance. It won’t change who you are or make you look like someone else. You’ll still look like yourself, just a younger version.
After your surgery, it’s important not to expect miracles. You might feel more confident in your appearance and, in turn, more confident in the projects you undertake or more confident in pursuing certain relationships. But, you won’t see the results you’re hoping for if you have a facelift to win back a separated spouse, to try to get ahead at work, or to finally get someone to fall in love with you.
You Have Enough Vacation Time
Even if you’re emotionally, mentally and physically ready for a facelift, one factor might get in your way, and that’s the limits of time. Typically, the initial recovery after the surgery can take up to two weeks, or in some cases, up to three weeks. You’ll want to take at least that much time off from work, to give your incisions time to heal, swelling and bruising time to decrease, and yourself time to recuperate in general.
After the initial recovery period, it might still be a few weeks before you are fully 100%. For example, your surgeon might advise avoiding exercise or strenuous activity for four to six weeks after the facelift.
You Can Follow Instructions
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to follow before and after your facial surgery. They won’t be terribly difficult instructions, but it will be incredibly important for you to abide by them to get the greatest benefit out of your surgery.
For example, he’ll most likely tell you to stop taking certain supplements or medications, to quit smoking, and to avoid certain common medications, such as aspirin, in the weeks before your surgery. Not following those directions can increase your risk for complications or impact the healing process afterwards. After the facelift, your surgeon will most likely recommend taking it easy for a week or two and not doing any strenuous activity for up to a month. Exercising and straining in the weeks following surgery can make you more likely to have bad bruising and other complications.
If you think you are ready for a facelift, or at least are ready to learn more about it, contact a board certified, facial plastic surgeon today. In West Palm Beach, Florida, Dr. Michael Schwartz is a board certified facial plastic surgeon who regularly performs facelift procedure. To learn more about the surgery, or to explore other potential options, call 561-655-5562 today.