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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
Bournemouth  

67 Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1RW

01202 291866
Overall rating View rating
Brentwood  

Shenfield Road, Brentwood, CM15 8EH

01277 695695
Overall rating Good
Brighton  

Warren Road, Brighton, BN2 6DX

01273 624488
Overall rating Good
Bristol  

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
Overall rating Good
Cambridge  

4 Trumpington Road, Cambridge, CB2 8AF

01223 370919
Overall rating Outstanding
Cardiff and Vale  

Cardiff Bay Hospital, Dunleavey Drive, Cardiff, CF11 0SN

02920 836700
Cheltenham  

Hatherley Lane, Cheltenham, GL51 6SY

01242 246 500
Overall rating Good
Chester  

Wrexham Road, Chester, CH4 7QP

01244 680 444
Overall rating Good
Chichester  

78 Broyle Road, Chichester, PO19 6WB

01243 530600
Overall rating Good
Derby  

Rykneld Road, Derby, DE23 4SN

01332 540100
Overall rating Good
Exeter  

Wonford Road, Exeter, EX2 4UG

01392 262110
Overall rating Good
Glasgow  

25 Beaconsfield Road, Glasgow, G12 0PJ

01413349441
Guildford  

Stirling Road, Guildford, GU2 7RF

01483 555805
Overall rating Good
Hereford  

Venns Lane, Hereford, HR1 1DF

01432 355 131
Overall rating Good
Ipswich  

Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP4 5SW

01473 279100
Overall rating Good
Leeds  

2 Leighton Street, Leeds, LS1 3EB

01133 882 067
Overall rating Outstanding
Leicester  

Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1HY

0116 2769 401
Overall rating Good
Newcastle upon Tyne  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 1JP

0191 281 6131
Overall rating Good
North Staffordshire  

Clayton Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 4DB

01782 625431
Overall rating Good
Oxford  

Beech Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7RP

01865 307777
Overall rating Good
Plymouth  

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775861
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Shrewsbury  

Longden Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 9DP

01743 282628
Overall rating Good
Taunton  

Staplegrove Elm, Taunton, TA2 6AN

01823 286991
Overall rating Good
Tees  

Junction Road, Norton, Stockton on Tees, TS20 1PX

01642 367439
Overall rating Outstanding
Tunbridge Wells  

Kingswood Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4UL

01892 531111
Overall rating Good
Warwickshire  

The Chase, Old Milverton Lane, Leamington Spa, CV32 6RW

Enquiries 0300 131 1400
Switchboard 01926 679571
Overall rating Good
Wessex  

Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2DW

02380 266 377
Overall rating Good
Woking  

Shores Road, Woking, GU21 4BY

01483 227800
Overall rating Good
Wolverhampton  

Wood Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, WV6 8LE

01902 754 177
Overall rating Good
York  

Haxby Road, York, YO31 8TA

01904 715000
Overall rating Good

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