Face Lift or Rhytidectomy

As we age, parts of our face start to droop, sag and develop wrinkles. A facelift—or rhytidectomy—can successfully shed years from your appearance by firming and tightening the skin of the face and neck. Newer techniques offer outstanding, natural-looking results by tightening both the skin and deeper tissues of the face and neck, allowing us to tailor the procedure to each patient and avoid the “windswept” look. Equally important, advanced endoscopic techniques are reducing discomfort and recovery times as well as any visible scars.

A face lift can be most beneficial in treating:

  • Mid-face sagging
  • Creases under your eyes
  • Jowls
  • Sagging fat
  • Loose skin and excessive skin under the jaw

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, and/or with injectable soft-tissue fillers, facial implants and skin resurfacing.

The best fit patients for rhytidectomy want to correct one or more signs outlined above. Patients most commonly have some facial sagging, but still have elasticity in their skin. Ideal candidates are generally healthy; do not smoke; and have realistic expectations about what rhytidectomy (facelift) can do. We also want to ensure that a patient is consulted properly and understands the short and long-term benefits of rhytidectomy and are confident in their decision to pursue this treatment.

Rhytidectomy is typically performed as an outpatient procedure in an office-based facility, surgery center or hospital. For those choosing Dr. Michael McConnell and Dr. Henry Lin, the outpatient surgeries are typically done at the state-of-the-art facilities at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA. The procedure takes about 2 hours with guided care from start to finish by our physician team.

Traditional Rhytidectomy

A traditional rhytidectomy is a “full” face lift 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.

Limited-Incision Rhytidectomy

A limited-incision rhytidectomy improves the area around the eyes and mouth by reducing nasolabial folds and other deep creases. Short incisions are made at the temples and around the ear, and possibly in the lower eyelids and/or under the upper lip.  In both methods, incisions are closed with stitches or tissue glue. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face.

After rhytidectomy, the surgeon wraps the incisions in bandages, and may insert drainage tubes; if so, they are taken out the next day. If surgical clips are holding some incisions closed, they are removed, along with any stitches, 1 week after the procedure. Post-rhytidectomy, swelling, numbness, bruising and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck may be felt. 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.

Results of a rhytidectomy have the power to have significant cosmetic improvements for the patients. Rhytidectomy are not always permanent however, and some decide to redo the procedure in approximately 5 or 10 years. In some sense, effects are permanent regardless of additional decisions with years later, the face continuing to look better than if it was never performed.
Please contact us to discuss possible risks and complications associated with a rhytidectomy. Our team of plastic surgeons are happy to discuss and consult the entire medical procedure process including risks.