How is a Facelift Procedure Performed?

Beauty + Fashion

How is a Facelift Procedure Performed? If you’ve noticed some effects of aging on or around your face, you may be considering cosmetic procedures to help restore the appearance you’ve had throughout your life. As the face ages, it can look more tired, worried, or less attractive due to deep lines and sagging skin. A facelift can be one of the best solutions for restoring a youthful appearance when non-surgical methods are not enough. 

What is a facelift? 

A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a surgical cosmetic procedure that is meant to create a more youthful appearance in the face. It is usually an outpatient procedure lasting between 2 and 5 hours, and it can be done with either local or general anesthetic. Depending on the patient’s needs, the surgery can include a number of procedures, such as:

  • Lift sagging skin in the face
  • Remove “jowls” by tightening skin around the jawline
  • Reduce deep creases around the nose and mouth
  • Remove excess, hanging skin under the chin or on the neck, which can appear as a double chin or “turkey neck” 

What results can you expect? 

The results will vary for each patient. Good bone structure and skin elasticity usually lead to better results. It’s also important to realize that, although a facelift will improve your appearance, it does not stop the overall process of aging, and it does not change the fundamental structure of your face or facial features

A facelift modifies specific areas of the face, neck and jawline. Some areas around the eyes or the brow may need other types of surgeries. Patients may choose brow lift, eyelid lift and chemical treatments for areas that are not improved by the facelift. 

Before the surgery

Patients receiving a facelift should be in good physical and mental health. Before undergoing a facelift, the patient will provide medical history and tests may be performed to ensure that the patient can safely receive the surgery. The doctor will look at:

  • Blood pressure
  • Medications
  • Cigarette use
  • Drug use
  • Allergies
  • Skin conditions
  • Scarring

Patients will discuss with their doctor which type of facelift is best for them. A traditional facelift will provide the most rejuvenation for drooping skin. If a patient has less skin relaxation, a “mini-lift” may be more suitable and it has a faster recovery time. A patient may also choose a neck lift to target areas below the chin and on the neck.

The surgical procedure

1. Anesthesia

The patient will receive either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. The doctor will recommend which choice is best.

2. Incision

The type of incision will depend on whether the patient is receiving traditional facelift, a neck lift or a limited incision facelift. For a traditional facelift, the incision is just behind the hairline, beginning at the temple and ending at the lower scalp.

3. Cosmetic adjustments

After the initial incisions, the surgeon separates skin from underlying connective tissues and makes cosmetic adjustments to the face as needed. Excess skin is removed and deep tissues are repositioned to provide a firmer foundation for the skin and restore a more youthful appearance.

4. Incisions are closed

In the final step, the incisions are closed with sutures or skin glue. Since the incisions are behind the hairline, they should be well concealed by the hair.


There are several days of bruising and swelling after a facelift. This reaches its peak around two days after the surgery and is usually not noticeable after 10 to 14 days. Most patients are comfortable going out in public within a week after surgery. 

For several weeks after the surgery, patients should also avoid sunlight, as the face will be more vulnerable to sunburn. If patients are exposed to sunlight during the recovery period, they should wear sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat. Also, patients should ask their cosmetic surgeon when it is safe to use makeup to conceal bruises.


When performed by an experienced and qualified surgeon, facelifts are generally safe and complications are rare. However, patients should be aware that all surgeries come with some slight degree of risk. Some complications include damage to nerves, infection, loss of hair around the incision and tissue death.

If you notice unusual pain, swelling or redness in the days following the surgery, you should see a doctor because it could be signs of a hematoma. You should also call a doctor if you have a fever because this is a sign of a possible infection from the surgery. 

Finding the right doctor

A facelift is a serious procedure, so you should take some time to find a good surgeon. When considering surgeons, look at their qualifications, read reviews and consult with more than one doctor to determine your best course of action. When speaking with your doctor, try to learn how you will look after the procedure. Ask to see before and after photos of the doctor’s work.

Dr. Andrew Frankel is a board-certified facelift surgeon located in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Frankel also performs other facial plastic surgeries including rhinoplasty, eyelid lifts and other procedures. To speak with Dr. Frankel, you may visit

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