Both procedures are commonly done together because they are done through very similar incisions. Patients who usually have concerns with the lower face inevitably have concerns with the neck and vice versa. The procedure is commonly said to set the patient’s appearance back ten years, to allow the patient to age gracefully. Commonly with aging there is also a loss of fat and tissue leading to the excess and loose skin in the lower face. Fat grafting from the abdomen to the lips, cheeks and chin can be done at the same time to provide more structure and youthfulness.
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks and potential complications of surgery.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your surgeon.
A face and/or necklift is typically done under a general anesthetic. Both a face and necklift have the same surgical incisions. There are two separate incisions on both sides of your face. The incision for a full facelift typically begins at the temple and goes along the natural skin fold in front of the ear, then behind the ear and along the hairline into the scalp. Facelifts also involve a tightening of the deep facial layers (also called the SMAS) and then redraping of the overlying skin. Sometimes a very small incision is required just under the chin to help tighten the neck. Usually black or blue non-dissolvable stitches will be used to close your surgical incisions. Sometimes dissolvable stitches are used, your surgeon will make this decision during your surgery. Sometimes dissolvable stitches may be used for the incisions under your chin and a ‘pink’ paper tape will be placed over top of the chin incision. If you have a Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain, you will have one black stitch to hold your JP drain in place. This will be removed when the drains are ready to come out. The drain will exit through one of your lower scalp incisions.
Following general anesthesia or intravenous sedation, it will take 24 to 36 hours for the full effects of the drugs to wear off. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult, who may either drive you home or take a taxi with you. You may feel a little sleepy or nauseous when you get home, you should quietly rest at home for the remainder of the day.
Remove all surgical dressings 48 hours after surgery, and continue to wear the compression garment. Black or blue stitches will be present on both sides of your face, and potentially under your chin. They will be removed in 5-7 days along with your Jackson-Pratt (JP) drain if you have one. Your sutures will be exposed to air, please try your best to limit contact with the incisions to only cleaning. Please apply a little bit of polysporin 3-4 times a day over the incision/sutures with a clean Q-tip until your suture removal appointment. Please ensure you wipe away the old polysporin with a warm wet Q-tip or paper cloth before reapplying new polysporin.
If you have paper tape on your chin; the paper tape is waterproof and will start to peel off over usually 4 weeks. Please cut off portions that are no longer adhering to prevent the rest of the tape from falling off. Do not aim water directly on the paper tape, and pat to dry afterwards.
You may have one JP drain placed inside your neck incision during surgery to help reduce the amount of fluid buildup around the wound. It has a soft plastic bulb with a stopper and flexible tubing attached. The drain will be exiting from one of your lower scalp incisions. A suture (stitch) will hold the drain in place. You will be given instructions on how to care for the drain. To make showering more comfortable, you can attach your drains to a lanyard around your neck. Please do not bathe or soak your incisions until all incisions have completely healed.
At this time you can shower, but do not directly apply water pressure over any of the sutures, only let the water run over it and pat gently with a clean paper towel to dry. You may need assistance with washing your hair. Do not rub your scalp or your face. Try to let your hair dry naturally but if you must use a blow dryer, do so in a very low setting held far from your face. It is essential to continue wearing the provided compression garment for 3 months for prevention of fluid buildup (even at night if comfortable). Additional garments are available for purchase through the clinic.
Swelling and bruising is very common after surgery but should begin to disappear within 3-6 weeks. It is also common for your face and neck to feel tight after surgery which should decrease after a few weeks. Most patients are able to get up and walk around briefly right after surgery, however, it is recommended that you do sleep with your head propped up on a few pillows for the first week. Most patients are able to walk on a treadmill in about a month, and play tennis in about three months. Most patients who have sedentary jobs take about two weeks off work. If your job involves a lot of physical activity be sure to speak with your surgeon during your consultation with regards to how much time off you will need for your specific daily tasks. There should be no heavy lifting for 3 months following surgery. Most patients are comfortable driving in about two week's time.
It is not uncommon for a spot along your surgical incisions to open up during the postoperative stages due to increased tension on the incisions with movement or poor healing. This is not a serious complication, and can be remedied with daily dressings, but it does mean a delay in your expected recovery time. Due to the intricate nature and structure of your face, sometimes the swelling can cause temporary injury to the facial nerves of the face. Your surgeon will monitor this closely and will treat the symptoms as they occur.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to give us a call at (403) 800-9157 and leave a message as necessary. If you are unable to reach us, and need medical advice please call 811 to speak to a nurse, the line is free of charge and available 24 hours a day. If it is a medical emergency please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital, or call the Peter Lougheed Centre Switchboard at (403) 943-4555 and ask to speak to the plastic surgeon on-call.
Recovery can be lengthy and the final results of the face lift are sometimes not evident until 6-8 weeks postoperatively with improvement continuing for several months after that. Some patients have very obvious swelling and bruising in the first month. We advised that you are able to comfortably take time off work and social activities in order to have peace of mind.
A good candidate for surgery is a patient who is relatively healthy and has realistic expectations for post-operative outcomes. It is also strongly advised that you be a non-smoker at the time of surgery. If you are a smoker we recommend you quit smoking at least 3 months prior to surgery as nicotine can interfere with blood supply and potentially cause complications with healing after surgery.