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What happens during a facelift operation?

A facelift is usually performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes two to three hours. The surgical technique will depend on what area is being lifted.

SMAS facelift - Your surgeon will make an incision on both sides of your face in the hairline around your ears. They will cut under the deeper layer of tough tissue (superficial musculo-aponeurotic system or SMAS layer), lifting and tightening it. Your surgeon will then tighten the skin towards your ears and remove any excess skin.

MACS facelift - The MACS (Minimal Access Cranial Suspension) face lift involves a smaller incision eliminating any scarring behind the ear. Your surgeon will tighten the SMAS layer with special suspension stitches to avoid cutting underneath it. MACS face lift involves less surgery but the results may not last as long as an SMAS facelift.

Mid-facelift - A mid facelift addresses the area below your lower eyelids over the cheekbone. Your surgeon will make small cuts along your hairline and either inside your mouth or in your lower eyelid. They will use special surgical instruments and stitches to lift the cheeks.

  • Once you have recovered from the anaesthetic, you will be encouraged to sit up in bed
  • Sitting upright will help to reduce some of the swelling
  • Your face is likely to feel tight and tender around the ears
  • However, there should not be any severe pain and this will be controlled with simple analgesia
  • You may feel drowsy following surgery
  • Expect to wake up and doze off for the remainder of the day
  • You may have a bandage around your head and under your chin after surgery
  • We will remove it the day after your surgery
  • Small, thin tubes (drains) may be temporarily inserted in the wounds
  • You are likely to stay in hospital overnight
  • You may be given a support garment to wear after your bandages are removed. 

What happens during a mini facelift?

A mini facelift is usually performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes between 1 and 2 hours. Your surgeon will numb the area in front or just behind your ears. They will make a few small incisions in front or behind your ears and (depending on the extent of lift needed) along your hairline. They will extend and tighten the skin where needed. Your wounds will be closed using very fine stitches.

Going home after a facelift

  • You may experience swelling and bruising following your face lift
  • You may feel tightness when opening your mouth
  • Your surgeon may ask you to sleep upright for the first few days to keep swelling under control
  • Stitches can be removed after 10 to 14 days
  • Be sure and discuss your return to work with your surgeon
  • At around four weeks you will be feeling more like your “normal” self
  • However the full effect of a facelift may not be visible for 6 to 9 months after the procedure.

Guide to stages of recovery from facelift surgery

Days 1 - 4

  • Swelling is at its worst days 2 and 3 after surgery
  • Sleep upright in bed supported by pillows. Icepacks will be soothing
  • Wear any support garment as instructed
  • Take things easy for now.

5 - 14 days

  • Gradually increase your activity but nothing too strenuous
  • Light housework and gentle walks are fine
  • Stitches around the ear will be removed.

2 weeks

  • Any remaining staples will be removed
  • You can think About returning to work after two weeks
  • Continue to Wear support garment at night.

4 weeks

  • All the visible swelling and bruising should have gone by now
  • Should be able to remove any support garment
  • Restart any exercise you do.

6 - 9 months

  • Scars will soften and fade
  • Final result can begin to be judged.

Specific complications of a facelift may include:

  • Loss of skin or hair
  • Developing a collection of blood under the skin
  • Developing pale or dark areas on your face
  • Damage to the facial nerve
  • Cosmetic problems.
Find your nearest hospital that provides this treatment

67 Lansdowne Road
Bournemouth
BH1 1RW

01202 291866

Shenfield Road
Brentwood
CM15 8EH

01277 695695

Warren Road
Brighton
BN2 6DX

01273 624488

3 Clifton Hill
Clifton
Bristol
BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870

4 Trumpington Road
Cambridge
CB2 8AF

01223 303336

Cardiff Bay Hospital
Dunleavey Drive
Cardiff
CF11 0SN

02920 836700

Hatherley Lane
Cheltenham
GL51 6SY

01242 246552

Wrexham Road
Chester
CH4 7QP

01244 680 444

78 Broyle Road
Chichester
PO19 6WB

01243 530600

Rykneld Road
Derby
DE23 4SN

01332 540100

Wonford Road
Exeter
EX2 4UG

01392 262110

25 Beaconsfield Road
Glasgow
G12 0PJ

01413349441

Stirling Road
Guildford
GU2 7RF

01483 555805

Venns Lane
Hereford
HR1 1DF

01432 355 131

Foxhall Road
Ipswich
IP4 5SW

01473 279100

2 Leighton Street
Leeds
LS1 3EB

01133 882 067

Scraptoft Lane
Leicester
LE5 1HY

01162 769401

Clayton Road
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131

Clayton Road
Newcastle-under-Lyme
ST5 4DB

01782 625431

Beech Road
Headington
Oxford
OX3 7RP

01865 307777

Derriford Road
Plymouth
PL6 8BG

01752 775861

Longden Road
Shrewsbury
SY3 9DP

01743 282628

Staplegrove Elm
Taunton
TA2 6AN

01823 286991

Junction Road
Norton
Stockton on Tees
TS20 1PX

01642 367439

Kingswood Road
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 4UL

01892 531111

The Chase
Old Milverton Lane
Leamington Spa
CV32 6RW

01926 436351

Winchester Road
Chandlers Ford
Eastleigh
SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

Shores Road
Woking
GU21 4BY

01483 227800

Wood Road
Tettenhall
Wolverhampton
WV6 8LE

01902 754 177

Haxby Road
York
YO31 8TA

01904 715000

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