Facelift (rhytidectomy)

As people age, wrinkles on the face and neck increase as the skin loosens and the muscles around these areas weaken. Facelifts decrease the appearance of these wrinkles by tightening and firming the skin of the face and neck. Often other procedures, such as blepharoplasties, can be performed at the same time as a facelift to give the face a more overall youthful appearance.

The procedure

A u-shaped incision is made from the temple region around the front of the ear and the muscles in this region are tightened, and excess skin is removed. The skin is repositioned and tightened very carefully so as to achieve the correct amount of tension, and a similar process, in which a small incision is made under the chin, is used to lift and tighten the neck if this is required.

The procedure usually takes two to three hours to perform, and this varies depending on the desired results and the complexity of the operation. Either local or general anaesthesia can be used, depending on the expected length of the operation, and the procedure is generally performed in hospital. Most people stay in hospital for one to two days following surgery, however, you may return home sooner if your surgery is more minor. All of the above choices should be discussed with your surgeon prior to surgery and the final arrangement will depend on your, and your surgeon's preferences.

After your surgery

Following surgery there is minimal pain, and any bruising tends to subside by two weeks. Most of the swelling is gone after a few days, and dressings remain on for up to five days. Sutures are removed five to nine days following your surgery.

Strenuous physical activity should be avoided for the first few weeks, and your surgeon will advise you as to when you can return to normal activities. Most people take approximately two weeks off work to recuperate.

The long term outcome

The results of the surgery typically last for many years, however, patients will continue to age and the length of time that the facelift lasts for will depend on the speed of aging for each individual. Scars from the surgery are for the most part hidden by the hairline, and in natural skin folds. The results of the surgery vary from person to person, however, patients typically find that they have firmer skin with fewer wrinkles, and thus a more youthful appearance.

Risks and limitations

All surgery carries some risks, which include the possibility of post-operative infection, bleeding, excessive scarring and reaction to the anaesthetic. There are other risks that are more specific to this procedure, and it is important that you talk to your surgeon about the possible complications prior to surgery. Pre-existing medical conditions can alter the level of risk associated with any procedure, and it is important that you notify your surgeon and anaesthetist of any medical problems prior to surgery. It is also important to follow your surgeon's instructions both before, and after, surgery to ensure that these risks are minimised.

Facelifts improve, but may not necessarily eliminate all wrinkles on your face. Other signs of aging such as loose skin around your eyes, deep creases in your forehead, wrinkles around your lips and frown lines between your eyebrows may remain. These can be reduced with dermal fillers or Botox , and in the case of excess eyelid skin, with blepharoplasty surgery. Fine wrinkling of the face can be improved with chemical peeling or laser resurfacing .


The components that determine the cost of the procedure are the surgical theatre costs, hospital costs, anaesthetic fee and the surgeon's fee. Prices vary widely and depend on; the extent/complexity of the procedure, the physical attributes of individual patients, and the surgeon performing the operation. A basic, lower face, facelift typically costs around $18000.

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