Maybe you’ve started noticing that your cheeks or chin are starting to droop. Or you have distinct laugh lines — even when you’re not smiling.
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If these changes in your appearance have you wondering about a facelift, this is no small commitment. There are several things to consider before making that choice.
1. Why get a facelift?
If you are like most women considering a facelift, you probably don’t want to look like a different person, just a younger, more rested version of yourself.
“Very often, women come to me saying they don’t recognize that person in the mirror,” says James Zins, MD, Chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. “They say, ‘I feel wonderful and great and I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself.’”
You may want the procedure to help you look as young as the people you are working around at your job. Or maybe you think looking older will be a deterrent to job advancement. Perhaps you have gone through stressful times and want a pick-me-up.
The key to being happy with a facelift is to do it for yourself, not because of pressure from a spouse, friend or anyone else.
2. What different types of procedures are available?
During a traditional facelift, your doctor will make an incision in front of and behind your ear. The skin and muscular layer under the skin are both tightened.
Other procedures focus on specific areas, such as the neck, forehead, or cheek/jowl.
3. Am I too old for a facelift?
You may start seeing facial changes in your 40s, 50s and 60s. A facelift can help fuller jowls and the “marionette lines” between the nose and the mouth.
But you can have plastic surgery into your 80s. Facelifts, Dr. Zins says, are just as safe for older people as for those who are younger, provided that your doctor screens carefully to avoid potential complications.
4. Are there good and bad candidates for a facelift?
Most people will notice at least some change after a facelift, but some can expect better results. If you start with good bone structure — high cheekbones, a good jaw line and a strong chin — you will likely see more improvement after treatment.
If you have a lot of sun damage, skin that has lost elasticity, extra skin from weight loss, or a weak chin, the procedure may be less successful.
5. What questions should I ask my doctor during a consultation?
Dr. Zins recommends these questions:
- What should I expect from the procedure?
- How much time will I need to take off from work and social engagements afterward?
- Can you show me “before” and “after” photos? (The doctor should have a full book that you can look at.)
- Can you tailor the operation to my specific needs?
6. What is the “shelf life” of a facelift?
The average facelift lasts about 10 years. After that, the face will start to age again and lose some elasticity and structure.
7. What should I expect after surgery?
Your doctor will prescribe medication to help with any initial pain. It should only take about three days to feel better, but the swelling and bruising will probably keep you out of work and social situations for about two weeks.
Because of the time and emotion invested in the procedure, your doctor will want to help you keep your skin in good condition. He or she will recommend a skin care program, and you will need to minimize sun exposure.