Facelift – Rhytidectomy
A facelift is the ‘gold standard’ to effectively and dramatically restore your youthful appearance. It is one of the most frequent surgeries Dr. Capek performs in her practice. With aging, our face naturally loses volume and the effects of sun exposure, gravity, and the stresses of daily life lead to wrinkles, jowls, and a droopy neck. A facelift, often in combination with a neck lift, will reposition sagging and deflated tissues, get rid of your ‘waddle’ and restore a youthful jawline. Patients throughout the Capital District areas of Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Saratoga trust New York Plastic Surgeon Dr. Lucie Capek to perform their facelift surgery. Many of our patients also travel from New York City, Vermont, Massachusetts and beyond to receive her skilled and compassionate care.
You may read about various ‘branded’ facelift techniques that promise minimal downtime or have catchy names. Dr. Capek prefers to choose the type of facelift based on your specific needs and her recommendations are highly customized to each patient. Her goal is to “set back the clock” by providing a result that is a younger version of yourself, without looking overdone or making you look like a different person. She uses modern, short scar techniques and the latest instruments, such as the Harmonic Scalpel, to achieve natural-looking results with a shorter recovery.
Is a Facelift right for me?
You may be an excellent candidate for a facelift if you have some of the following concerns:
- Sagging skin and loss of tone in the lower face, resulting in jowls
- Deep creases around corners of your mouth and chin area
- A ‘deflated’ appearance in your midface, with flattened or hollow cheeks
- Cheek skin falling forward around your mouth when you look down
- A double chin, resulting from loose skin and excess fatty deposits under the chin and jaw
- Creased and sagging skin in your neck
As with all cosmetic procedures, good health and reasonable expectations of the outcome are also important.
Before Your Procedure
During your consultation, Dr. Capek will discuss your goals and expectations to determine the best treatment course to achieve your desired results. It is very helpful for you to bring in a close-up photo of your face from your late teens or twenties (a high school or college graduation photo or a wedding photo works well). This serves as an excellent reference for Dr. Capek to see how you have aged and how your face was shaped in youth.
Every facelift surgery is customized to each patient’s unique needs and Dr. Capek may recommend additional treatments to rejuvenate your neck, eyelids and skin to achieve a balanced look. She will also advise you on how to prepare for your procedure and what to expect during your recovery. You will have ample opportunity to have your questions answered so that you feel confident in your decision to have a facelift procedure. Being prepared is your first step in ensuring a positive outcome.
As always you want to be in optimum health when considering elective surgery. Follow a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise and follow your primary care physician’s advice when treating chronic conditions like high blood pressure. Share your detailed medical history with Dr. Capek.
It is also imperative that you don’t smoke or be exposed to any nicotine-containing products for at least 6 weeks prior to and 6 weeks after your facelift surgery. Smoking and other forms of nicotine decrease your body’s ability to heal normally and can lead to major
serious complications like skin death, severe scarring, breathing problems and blood clots. Avoid taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs: Advil, Motrin, Aleve) and vitamins/homeopathic regimens. These can increase bleeding.
Dr. Capek usually performs facelift surgery at an accredited outpatient surgery center under local anesthesia and conscious sedation, or ‘twilight’, administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist. She most often performs a short scar vertical facelift using the state-of-the-art HARMONIC® scalpel to reduce bruising, swelling and recovery time. She replaces lost volume in the mid face, fills wrinkles and hollows under the eyes with micro-fat grafting. In some cases, a chin implant is added for better jawline definition.
Dr. Capek creates small incisions that follow the natural curves at the front of your ears, under your sideburn area and in the crease behind your ears. The resulting scars are usually barely detectable, don’t create a tell-tale ‘line’ in front of the ear and do not raise your hairline at the temple. A small incision is also made under the chin if the ‘waddle’ in the neck needs a significant defatting or muscle work (platysmaplasty). Through these incisions, Dr. Capek undermines the necessary areas of skin to be lifted and also exposes the SMAS layer on top of the facial muscles. She removes excess fatty tissue under the chin and jowls if needed, and lifts the underlying SMAS and muscles vertically, in a variation of the MACS lift technique. This ‘cranial suspension’ leads to a long-lasting and natural-looking lift with a youthful mid-face and well-defined jawline.
Since the process of aging results in loss of volume in the face at all tissue levels (thinner skin, loss of fat, muscle and bone atrophy), replacing volume is an essential part of rejuvenating the face in most patients. ‘Tighter’ does not always look ‘younger’, as many of us have seen with celebrities whose faces appear mask-like and unnatural. This is where micro fat grafting adds a very natural and long-lasting dimension to facial rejuvenation surgery.
The HARMONIC® scalpel is an ultrasound-powered instrument that has been shown to seal blood vessels on contact and also causes less heat injury to tissues than electrocautery, which is often used in facelift surgery. Studies have shown that the use of this instrument decreases recovery time following facelift surgery and Dr. Capek has found it also decreases the length of the procedure. She has been using it in facelift surgery for nearly 10 years.
The detailed steps of your facelift surgery will vary depending on your unique needs and goals. Some patients need only a ‘mini’ version of the procedure described above while others may add other procedures, like eye lifts, to get the best possible results.
After Your Procedure
After facelift surgery, Dr. Capek will apply a bandage to give you light compression for about 24 hours. She may suggest you spend one night in the surgery center, where you can enjoy a private room, one-on-one nursing and lots of TLC. Your bandage is changed and you can use a light neck support garment on and off for the next few days. Most patients report that they have very little discomfort after facelift surgery.
Dr. Capek allows patients to shower and shampoo their hair 48 hours after surgery. Your skin will feel numb, tingly or itchy around your ears, neck and outer cheeks. This gradually gets better over several months. You can also expect some bruising and swelling in the face or neck, which may take up to 2-3 weeks to resolve. This will vary depending on the exact nature of your procedure. You will have some stitches that need to be removed about one week after surgery and you can put make-up on any bruises by then as well. Most patients are out and about one to two weeks after surgery. You should avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks and intense exercise or head-down activities, like yoga, for about 6 weeks.
You are an important partner in your recovery and you must always follow Dr. Capek’s detailed instructions on how to care for yourself after surgery. As mentioned, smoking or exposure to any nicotine products must be completely avoided. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to oversee your recovery process and make sure your healing is progressing normally.
What are the risks?
Dr. Capek will do everything possible to make sure your facelift experience is safe, comfortable, and effective. However, even when performed by a board-certified and experienced surgeon, all procedures carry some associated risk of complications. Face lift surgery risks include bleeding, infection, excessive bruising or swelling, permanent numbness, damage to deeper structures, including nerves that move your face or vision, poor scars, poor fat graft survival and reactions to medication or anesthesia. In Dr. Capek’s experience, these complications are rare and often treatable. Face lift surgery is generally a low-risk procedure with long-lasting and pleasing results.
Contact us today to learn more about facelifts and schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Capek. Our office is just 13 miles from Albany and 9 miles from Schenectady, New York. For more information, visit our blog or patient testimonials page.