Face Lift


A facelift does not stop the clock. It simply “resets” it. How long a facelift lasts depends on many factors including the inherent characteristics of your tissues. Also, people tend to age in “spurts” (look at Presidents before and after serving). If you are in, or entering, an aging cycle, your facelift will not last as long as someone who is not in such a cycle.

What Areas Are Improved?

Many areas of the face are improved: sagging, loose tissues of the mid-face, deep folds of loose skin at the sides of the nose and mouth, jowls or loss of definition of the jaw line, and excess fat or loose skin causing loss of definition and “hanging” of the tissues in the neck area. Dr. Morris will discuss your areas of concern during the consultation and demonstrate the degree of correction you may be able to achieve in each area.

You’ll notice some loosening within a few months following a facelift, but you may never regain the degree of your original aged appearance. On average, patients may request a less extensive tightening procedure in 7-10 years to maintain the best possible appearance.

A facelift is often combined with other procedures for simultaneous correction of other areas of the face such as the forehead or eyelid regions. This gives you a balanced, more youthful appearance of the entire face.

Before the Surgery

Incisions for facelift are carefully concealed within the hair in the area of the temples, in skin creases in front of and behind the ear, and along the hairline behind the ears. Dr. Morris will discuss specific incision locations with you during your consultation.

During the Surgery

To reposition your facial tissues, skin and deeper tissues of the face are first very carefully mobilized. The deeper tissues and skin are then repositioned in a generally upward and backward direction to reposition them into a more satisfactory location. In the neck area, banding or separation of neck muscles is corrected to provide better support and optimal contour of the neck.

In the face and neck areas, excess or malpositioned fatty tissue is removed or sculpted using small suction tubes or direct removal to further improve the result. After re-draping the skin and soft tissues, excess tissue is removed and the incisions are very carefully closed.

After Surgery

All of your incisions will be carefully closed with sutures to hopefully produce very fine line scars. Most patients have scars that are undetectable when covered with make-up. The quality of the scars depends on each individual’s healing characteristics.

The Recovery

You will feel some tightness in the neck area following surgery. This assures that you’ll have the best possible long-term result. Most of the tight feeling resolves in the first two weeks.

The amount of bruising and swelling one has and the rate at which these disappear is different for each person. We have many patients who experience almost no swelling or bruising, and others who have significant amounts of both. Usually within 10 days, with proper application of make-up, you will be able to function comfortably in society. Patients generally feel fantastic about their new look around 6 weeks following surgery.

The Stages of Recovery
For face and neck procedures, the average....
Hospitalization time: Dr. Morris prefers that you spend one night in the hospital on observational status following an extensive facelift. By keeping you quiet, your head elevated, and having someone to care for you, we can help assure the least possible swelling and bruising and the fastest possible recovery.
Bruising and swelling resolve: 5-10 days; 6 weeks for optimal swelling resolution
Return to work, social activity: 10-21 days
Aerobic or strenuous activity: 21 days

Limitations and Risks

Facelift procedures can be limited by certain characteristics of your tissues. Some examples are:

  • Thick, heavy, oily skin
  • Sun damaged skin
  • Excessive fatty tissue
  • Changes in the tissues from previous procedures
  • Natural asymmetries of each side of your face

The goal of a facelift is to make you look as good as possible for your age, not necessarily to make you appear a certain number of years younger. Dr. Morris will discuss any specific limitations with you at the time of your consultation. We have techniques available to deal with most limiting factors.

Facelift procedures involve markedly more risk in smokers. Nicotine and carbon monoxide cause constriction of the blood vessels that supply the skin, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of skin loss. If you are a smoker, Dr. Morris will require that you stop smoking and completely avoid exposure to smoke for a minimum of three weeks prior to surgery, and three weeks following the procedure. (Ideally, you would quit forever!)

If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), it must be properly controlled prior to surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding. We will coordinate this with your internist or family physician. There is a very small risk of impairing nerves that control facial movement during facelift surgery, depending on the extent of procedure necessary to correct your deformities. Dr. Morris will discuss this in more detail with you during your consultation. The incidence of this is exceedingly rare.