What's it like: To get a face-lift

A face-lift is a cosmetic surgery that can help restore a more youthful look. However, it does not change your fundamental appearance or stop the aging process.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: April 20, 2013 at 12:39 am •  Published: April 21, 2013

With any surgery, there's a risk of bleeding. With a face-lift, there's a risk of a pocket of blood forming under the skin that will need to be drained.

Poor wound healing is also a risk. Smoking can increase your chances of not healing properly. It's important to listen to your doctor's instructions about wound healing. Otherwise, you might have noticeable scars near the incision sites.

There's also a risk that your doctor could damage nerves that control facial muscles. This damage is usually temporary, but in rare circumstances, patients aren't able to blink their eyes or wrinkle their foreheads. Also, if your doctor pulls your skin back too tight, your face might not look natural.

Your risk factors can depend on your doctor. It's important to find out from your doctor about their experience and training in performing face-lifts.

What's the recovery time?

You will need to take it easy for about two weeks. Your face likely will be pale, bruised and puffy, but after between four weeks to six weeks, it will look more normal.

You might have small drains under your skin to drain blood and fluid, which might be removed in a few days. You'll have loose bandages on your head to help reduce swelling, which will also be removed within about five days.

Over the next several weeks after your surgery, you will begin to see the true results of your surgery. However, you should talk with your doctor about realistic expectations for a face-lift.

What's the follow up?

Your surgeon will remove some of your stitches within a week of the surgery. After about two weeks, your surgeon might be ready to remove the anchor stitches placed behind your ears.

Overall, your face-lift should last between five and seven years. If you do things that damage your skin, like spend a lot of time in the sun without protection, your face-lift might not last as long.

You might choose to get other cosmetic facial procedures, such as carbon dioxide laser resurfacing, which can get rid of small wrinkles in the face. You might also choose to get a brow lift or eye lid lift if you didn't get those during the face-lift. Any of these procedures can also assist in promoting a youthful appearance.

Sources: Dr. Paul Silverstein, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Oklahoma City; American Society of Plastic Surgeons; the U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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