We’ve known for a long time that everyone is unique and has different needs. But this attitude has come to the field of plastic surgery only fairly recently. It has opened up a wide variety of options for prospective patients.

Aging occurs in everyone, but the rate at which the process progresses and the areas most affected depend on many different factors, including genetics, lifestyle, habits, sun exposure, and more. Because of this, plastic surgery procedures must be customized and tailored to each individual patient in order to get the best results. Facelift surgery is a highly effective and intensive procedure that can produce great results for patients, and it has the advantage of being highly customizable. But how can you tailor your procedure to suit your needs?

Components of a Facelift

When most people think of a facelift, they think of comprehensive surgery to address facial aging in all areas of the face. However, there are many sub-types of facelifts available depending on the patient’s needs. The most “traditional” facelift is the lower facelift, which combines rejuvenation of the neck and jowls to address sagging skin and loose muscles. Other facelift types include combinations of a midface lift and brow lift or other procedures. In most cases, patients will want to address neck as well as facial aging, as this contributes greatly to the overall look of the face.

Where Do You Need It Most?

When considering your facelift, you will need to decide which areas of your face need the most rejuvenation. Some people have significant sagging of the jowls and neck, while others notice more aging in the cheek area. Age will have a big impact on the number of areas that require treatment as well, since healthy patients ranging in age from 30 to 80 are eligible to undergo the surgery. It is important to define your preliminary goals for surgery before you discuss your procedure with a plastic surgeon.

Choosing Combinations

You will, of course, have control over your treatment plan, but it will be your surgeon who makes the decisions on what techniques are most appropriate for you and your goals. He or she will decide which combination of procedures will work best for your facelift and ensure that you are a good candidate for the chosen surgery. You will discuss the procedure at length during your consultations, and will have the opportunity to ask specific questions.

Mini Lifts and Limited Incision Techniques

Today, facelifts are not only more customizable than ever, they are gentler as well.  New, less invasive techniques such as the limited incision lower facelift and “mini-lifts” that focus on one area of the face are now options for patients who do not need the dramatic results of a full facelift and want a less intense recovery period. Even the more invasive procedures involve safer techniques and a more comfortable recovery.

The Surgery and Recovery

Surgical techniques vary depending on the facelift, as do the anesthesia options. For less invasive procedures, local anesthesia and oral sedation may be all that is necessary. For more in-depth procedures, IV sedation is required. Incisions are made around the ear and/or hairline, and sometimes under the chin if necessary.  In most facelift procedures, the surgeon will access the SMAS (underlying facial structure and musculature) and lift it as necessary. Skin is also tightened and fat may be repositioned before the incisions are closed.

Initial recovery lasts about two weeks, and patients can be back to most normal activities within about three weeks. Some residual swelling will remain for several months, but this is not usually noticeable and will gradually subside. Patients should follow all aftercare instructions to help promote good results from the surgery.

Lasting Results

The facelift may be an invasive procedure, but the results are worth any discomfort and cost to most patients. A skilled plastic surgeon can produce results that will last for years. Nothing can stop the aging process entirely, but a facelift can significantly slow down the process and provide rejuvenation that patients will enjoy for many years, assuming good lifestyle habits are maintained.

Get Advice—and a Preview

If you would like to learn more about how a facelift can benefit you, it may be time to talk with a facial plastic surgeon. Consultations with prospective surgeons will give you the opportunity to explore your options, vet the practitioners, and typically allow you to see digital projections of your desired results. These previews are merely tools for helping you see what is possible with surgery, as your actual results will vary from the digital images. That said, they can be helpful for communication and help you make decisions about your surgery.

Dr. Edward Buckingham is an acclaimed and board certified facial plastic surgeon in Austin, Texas, who emphasizes gentle techniques and beautiful, natural results. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Buckingham, call Buckingham Center today at 512-401-2500.

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