If you’re noticing the signs of age on your face, from loosening skin or crows’ feet, to wrinkles and jowls, you may have started looking into getting a facelift. However, you might have some questions about this procedure, such as what age is best to get it done? Our experts at Sule Facial Plastic Surgery Clinic in Dallas, TX can help you determine if this surgery is right for you.
What Age Should You Get a Facelift?
There’s no magic age that’s best for getting a facelift, or a rhytidectomy. Anyone who’s with signs of aging on their neck and face can benefit from the procedure as long as they’re in good health. However, people who are in their mid-40s usually see the best results, and people who are in their 50s and 60s do well, too. The better way to determine if you need a rhytidectomy is to pay attention to signs rather than your age.
Signs of Facial Aging
There are three main signs of facial aging, which can help you determine if a rhytidectomy is right for you. These signs usually begin appearing around the age of 30, but this is heavily dependent on genetics, lifestyle, and health. As such, you may start aging early if you’re predisposed to that genetic factor or if you do things like smoke and stay out in the sun.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Of the three main signs of facial aging, fine lines and wrinkles are usually the most noticeable, and they get deeper and more visible with age. The reason we get these lines and wrinkles is that the substances in the body that lead to smooth skin decline over time. These substances include hyaluronic acid, elastin, and collagen, which decreases at a rate of about 1% each year after the age of 25. Age-induced dryness is also an issue that causes wrinkles to worsen.
In most cases, you’ll first notice these lines and wrinkles appearing under your eyes, on your forehead, and near the nasolabial folds around the nose and mouth. Eventually, you’ll develop lines all over your face that will turn into wrinkles as you get older. You can’t stop this aging process from occurring, but there are ways to mitigate lines and wrinkles through the most basic methods using creams and lotions to the more extensive solutions involving surgery.
By the time most people are 40, they will begin to experience some skin sagging in their face. You may notice the first sign of sagging if you put lipstick on and it bleeds, but before too long, you’ll also see sagging appear in your cheeks, neck, and nasolabial folds. The result is that you may look tired or sad, especially if you also have hollowed eyes, which are another sign of loss of volume and sagging.
The loss of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin are also responsible for sagging, as these substances provide volume under your skin to make it look fuller and smoother. Elastin is partly responsible for your skin’s strength and elasticity, and that substance decreases sharply as we age, making your skin appear thinner and more fragile. Additionally, the flow of nutrients to our skin slows, causing a further loss of elasticity and increased sagging.
Loss of Elasticity
When our skin is young, we have plenty of collagen and elastin to keep our skin smooth and firm. However, as we age, these substances decrease, which disrupts the normal tissue arrangement in our skin. This causes our skin to lose strength and to deepen wrinkles that were once just fine lines. The drop in hyaluronic acid causes our skin to dry out and lose its firmness, seemingly overnight. Hormones play a large role in the loss of elasticity.
Deep wrinkles and loss of firmness in the skin are, to a large extent, simply a part of the aging process. We can’t influence the internal causes of elasticity loss, and we’re only able to mitigate external influences to some degree. However, between skin care products, surgical procedures, and nonsurgical treatments, we can delay the appearance of aging skin and keep you younger looking for as long as possible. A facelift is just one potential solution.
Types of Lifts
Of the two main types of lifts, the complete version is the most popular and the one that is most often associated with a facelift. A complete lift is designed to eliminate excess skin on the neck and cheeks. It also restores jawline definition and fat loss from the central part of the face. The results of a complete rhytidectomy are long-lasting, with people enjoying smooth, firm skin for up to a decade after their procedure.
The incision of a full lift begins in the temple area, above and in front of the ear, and makes its way around the earlobe. Skilled surgeons are able to hide the incision in a natural skin crease or along the beard line for men. The skin is lifted and repositioned, as the surgeon tightens the muscles and connective tissue below the skin. The excess skin is then trimmed off and the incision is closed using sutures or metal clips.
Often referred to as a short-scar lift, the mini lift is often recommended for younger patients, as it is intended to correct minor sagging of the neck and lower face. As you might guess, the incision for a short-scar lift is smaller than the one for a complete lift. It is, however, still a surgical procedure that requires anesthesia and a recovery time, although the recovery time is usually reduced when compared to a complete lift.
The procedures behind a mini lift are the same as for a complete lift. The skin is lifted, repositioned, and trimmed, while the muscles and connective tissue of the lower face are tightened. You’ll have fewer sutures or clips used to close the incision on a mini lift, since the incision is smaller. The incisions are usually made along the hairline or above each ear. If you’re prone to scarring, a mini lift may be a better option for you.
Pair With Additional Procedures
Neither type of rhytidectomy is a solution for crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles or eyelid drooping. For this reason, many patients who undergo a lift will pair that procedure with other cosmetic surgeries such as brow lifts or eyelid correction. This is a good use of time, since you’ll already be recovering from your lift surgery, so adding additional procedures means you can heal from them at the same time. Otherwise, you may have to schedule multiple surgeries down the road.
In general, the results of a rhytidectomy are long-lasting, but no surgery can stop the aging process completely. If you’re alive, you’re going to age, but your results can last up to 10 years as long as you take care of your skin and stay out of the sun. Genetics also play a role as to when your skin starts showing signs of aging again, so it’s not possible to determine exactly how long your lift’s results will last.
Technology has also made the results of lifts look more natural than they used to. At one point, people who underwent this procedure often looked plastic or overdone, but now, you’ll get a natural look that will restore the youthfulness of your face. This has the added benefit of boosting your self-esteem and confidence as you go about your daily life. The technique of repositioning your skin rather than just pulling it up makes all the difference!
Good Mental Health
Getting a rhytidectomy is a very personal decision and one that should be made for yourself only. You should be mentally prepared to deal with the changes in your appearance after the procedure and the fact that the signs of aging will return after a few years. This is a major surgical procedure, so you’ll want to be sure that you understand the results are not reversible and that you have realistic expectations for the outcome.
A lift is not going to make you look 18 again, but it is going to give you a noticeably more youthful appearance. It’s not designed to make you look like someone else or to change your overall facial structure. You will still look like yourself, but with more vibrant, firm, and smooth facial skin. People may not notice you’ve had “work done,” but they will notice that your face looks healthier and younger.
Good Physical Health
The better overall health you’re in, the faster you’ll heal from this surgical procedure. Additionally, a healthy body produces better results because your immune response can be directed at healing your incisions rather than at other health conditions you have. The key is to discuss any medical conditions with your surgeon prior to your surgery to make sure a lift is the right procedure for you. There are less-invasive solutions available and your doctor can provide you with those options.
Non-smokers are better candidates for lifts than smokers, mostly because smokers have a more difficult time healing than those who do not smoke. Additionally, if you continue to smoke after the procedure is completed, your results will not last as long as they will if you become a non-smoker. Most surgeons will ask that you quit smoking for about a month before the procedure to prepare your body for surgery and recovery.
If you are obese; have diabetes, high blood pressure, a bleeding condition, heart disease, or depression; or consume too much alcohol; you may not be a good candidate for a lift. These conditions increase the risk of complications in any surgery, so elective cosmetic surgery is not recommended for people with these or similar health problems.
Decent Skin Condition
Even though this surgery is designed to improve your skin condition, it still needs to have some elasticity left in it before undergoing this procedure. To test this, give your skin a pinch and see if it “bounces” back. If it does, then your skin is likely fine for this surgery. If you’re a smoker or your face has significant damage from the sun, you might not want to get a lift because you won’t get your desired results.
Underlying Bone Structure
If you are unhappy with your chin or nose, a lift isn’t going to change those parts of your face. Your underlying bone structure remains the same after a lift. As such, you may want to consider a rhinoplasty (nose surgery) or a genioplasty (chin surgery) before you undergo a lift. It’s possible one of these procedures will give you the results you want, but if you find you still want a lift as well, you’ll be ready to go.
As a potential lift patient, you should be prepared for a major surgical procedure and recovery. This means that you need to arrange time off work, have someone be available to drive you home when you’re discharged and to stay with you overnight, and have a place to recover. Moreover, you must also be prepared to follow all postoperative directions to ensure that you heal as quickly as possible, without complications.
You will probably not have to stay in the hospital for your surgery, as it is typically an outpatient procedure. There are 24-hour post-operative care facilities that cater to cosmetic surgery patients where you can stay until you’re ready to return home. These are usually staffed by licensed nurses who are used to caring for patients who have undergone cosmetic procedures. You can also go home, but you’ll have to have someone with you for the first night.
Once you’ve determined that you want to explore getting a facelift, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your surgeon. At this point, you’ll undergo an examination so that your doctor can look at your skin, assess its condition, and provide their recommendation on how to proceed. They will take a medical history and discuss your desired outcomes, as well as explain the procedure and recovery to you. Contact Sule Facial Plastic Surgery Clinic in Dallas, TX, to schedule your initial appointment today!