Nip and Tucks of the Face

The greatest misconception about facelift surgery is that it does very little for what most people think of as their face. A facelift is really a neck and jowl lift, changing only the lower third of the face or the neck. Facelift surgery is also not a ‘one size fits all’ operation. Facelifts come in a variety of variances that are customized to the each patient’s specific problems. Subtle differences in each facelift do make each one a little unique.

Despite many nuances in each patient’s facelift surgery, they are done in fundamentally two ways or types, limited and full. The differences lie in how much work is done in the neck area.

Limited facelifts affect mainly the loose skin in the jowls with some minor effect on the neck. Often neck liposuction is done as part of the procedure. This type of facelift has become popularized by different surgeons and companies that implies its simplicity and ease of recovery. Despite these name differences, they are are essentially the same operation. It is a good procedure for those who have early to moderate signs of face (neck and jowl) aging. The recovery is quick, one week or so, and in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice the limited facelift makes up about one-half of all facelifts that I do.

A full or traditional facelift is an extension of the full facelift. More skin is undermined in the neck and the platysmal muscle is often sewn together as well. It is reasonable to think of a full facelift as about twice that of a limited facelift. The surgery is twice as long, the amount of work done is about double. This is a better procedure when one is older and the facial (neck and jowl) aging process is more advanced. If you have significant loose skin in the neck, then a full facelift is probably needed.

One of the fears that many patients have is that a facelift involves a lot of pain, swelling, and an extended recovery. In reality, this is simply not true. One of the main reasons people think this goes back to a basic misunderstanding of what a facelift really is. (it does not involve any operations above the mouth…..while many other facial procedures can be done with a facelift, they do not count as a facelift) Isolated facelifts are much easier to go through than most imagine. Even a full facelift takes only slightly longer than a limited one.

Unfortunately, the fear of what a facelift may entail after surgery prevents some people from even considering this very effective procedure. Once I explain in detail the type of facelift a patient may need and what is really involved to go through it, these fears subside and the process to get what one wants is no longer so daunting.

Dr. Barry Eppley