Over time, gravity and sun exposure take their toll on the face and neck. Deep creases that run from each side of the nose to the corners of the mouth appear; the jawline slackens; and the neck develops loose folds and fat deposits. Rhytidectomy (facelift) counteracts these signs of aging by tightening muscle, removing fat, and trimming excess skin.

What can a rhytidectomy do?

Rhytidectomy improves the look of the lower and sometimes middle areas of the face, and the neck. It is most effective for correcting the following:

  • Mid-face sagging
  • Deep creases under the eyes
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Jowls
  • Sagging fat
  • Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw

A facelift requires extensive surgical planning, and few other operations have a greater number of variables and differences between patients as this procedure.
Although rhytidectomy removes or reduces signs of aging, over time, they will gradually reappear. Rhytidectomy does not improve the look of the brow, eyelids and nose, and some parts of the mid-face. A patient who wants to improve those areas might combine rhytidectomy with a brow lift or eyelid surgery, neck liposuction and/or with injectable soft-tissue fillers.

Candidates For Rhytidectomy

The best candidates for rhytidectomy want to correct one or more of the signs of aging indicated above; have some facial sagging, but still have elasticity in their skin; are generally healthy; do not smoke; do not take medications or herbal supplements which increase risk of bleeding; and have realistic expectations about what rhytidectomy can do. It is very important that the surgeon ascertains whether the patient is only interested in rhytidectomy because of pressure from someone else.

Rhytidectomy procedure

Rhytidectomy is typically performed in a surgery center or hospital. The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient surgery, however in certain cases patients may stay overnight depending on individual circumstances. Dr. Jarrell uses a full or standard classic facelift technique as it typically achieves more dramatic, longer lasting results compared to alternative facelift methods. The procedure is typically carried out under anesthesia. The procedure’s length depends on the individual’s characteristics and any additional procedures performed. The way a patient’s facelift is performed can depend on his or her facial structure and the extent of correction necessary and is customized to the individual.

A traditional rhytidectomy is a "full" facelift that rejuvenates the face, jowls and neck, and includes sculpting and redistributing of fat; lifting and repositioning of muscle and deeper tissues; and trimming and re-draping of skin. The incision begins at the temples and travels down to the front of the ear, around the earlobe and behind the ear to the lower scalp at the hairline. Sometimes, another incision is made under the chin. This may also allow for liposuction to be performed in this area. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face. Incisions are closed with both absorbable and non-absorbable stitches.

Recovery From Rhytidectomy

After rhytidectomy, the incisions and surgical area are wrapped with a padded, supportive head dressing. Drain(s) are typically placed prior to closure. They are usually removed the next day at your first post-operative visit. Patients are usually allowed to shower approximately 48 hours after surgery. Non-absorbable sutures are removed beginning 5-7 days after your procedure with the remainder being removed by 2 weeks.

Post-rhytidectomy, swelling, numbness, bruising and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck may be felt. Patients are instructed to sleep with and maintain elevation of their head and back for the first 1-2 weeks to help with this. The face may look uneven or distorted, and facial muscles may feel stiff. Most of these side effects resolve within 3 to 6 weeks, and sensation typically returns to normal within a few months. Scars become less red, raised, lumpy and itchy over time.

Many patients return to work by the third week. Camouflage cosmetics can be used to minimize the appearance of bruising. Strenuous activities and exercise can usually be resumed at around 6 weeks. Final results can usually be seen after 6 months.

Risks Associated With Rhytidectomy

Possible complications of rhytidectomy include bleeding, infection, bruising, swelling or discoloration, allergic reaction to the anesthesia, skin blistering (usually only in smokers), asymmetry, poor scarring, nerve injury, and temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the face.

Results Of Rhytidectomy

Results of rhytidectomy are not permanent, and some patients choose to undergo another in 5 or 10 years. In some sense, however, effects are permanent; years later, the face continues to look better than if rhytidectomy had not been performed. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with careful sun protection and skincare routine will help extend the results of your facelift.