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Face Lift Report

By James Barber M.D.
Cosmetic Surgery Expert
Updated: September 10, 2008
Ever wonder why some people's skin remains unaffected by gravity as they age, leaving them looking young and vibrant. The answer might be that Newton's famous law did deliver a few blows, but they fought back. A rhytidectomy, more commonly known as a facelift, is one way that we can fight back against aging. It allows us to ‘reset' much of the wrinkling and sagging that has occurred thus far, presenting a younger, tighter face to the world.

Many of us allow the general perception that facelifts and are only for the rich and famous to limit our options. Wake up! This is the twenty-first century; cosmetic surgery is safe, effective, and popular. Advanced procedures allow for such great results and quick recovery times that you probably know more people who have ‘had work done' than you think. We need to break down these perceptions and barriers and take a look at exactly what a facelift is, and who can benefit from having one.

I'll cover the questions I get all the time as well as the finer points you may not have thought about. After this you'll know what to expect from a consultation, how the procedure is performed and the possible complications, and what concerns should be addressed before and after surgery.

Why do people get face lifts?

Many times, people look in the mirror and realize that they don't feel quite as good as they feel. Your face is what you meet and greet the world with, if you feel that it doesn't accurately represent you then you are not as comfortable. Other times, someone may decide their life needs a jumpstart, and the youthfulness and self-confidence that comes with a facelift provides it.
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How old are most patients?

Because our biological and chronological ages can vary, different people are candidates at different times. I can say that most patients are between 40 and 60, and that good results have been shown on those well into their 80's.

Is anyone NOT eligible for a facelift?

Some conditions require extra precautions to be taken, such as high blood pressure, clotting problems, and the tendency to scar badly, but no one should specifically rule themselves out until they have a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

How do I find a good doctor to set up a consultation?

Finding a good plastic surgeon is different from finding other doctors. Word of mouth and recommendations from friends aren't always easy to get because many patients keep the work they have had done a secret. Contact the American Society of Plastic Surgeon at or (847)228-9900. They will help you locate a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon near you.

What happens at the consultation?

At your consultation, you and your surgeon will discuss several important things related to your candidacy for surgery. Firstly, you will be asked about your medical history, including previous operations, past and present health concerns, any medications you take, and your current emotional health. You will also discuss any other health changes you wish to make. If you plan to stop smoking or lose 15 pounds or more, surgery may be delay until after to further enhance your results.

Your consultation will also include a physical evaluation where the surgeon will assess different aspects of your face. He will be checking bone structure and the tissue make-up of your face. He will also be assessing your skin for thickness, elasticity, and the character of wrinkles and creases. Finally, he will map your hairline, looking for the best place to place incisions during surgery.

After examining you and discussing your desired results, your surgeon may determine that additional procedures must or should be performed in order to achieve those results. These procedures, typically done in conjunction with your facelift might include eyelid surgery to eliminate bags and wrinkles specific to the eyes, a "nose job" to reshape or remove bumps from the nose, or a forehead lift to smooth lines and creases in that area. They may also recommend a secondary procedure, such a laser resurfacing or a chemical peel which would be done after your surgery to eliminate very fine wrinkles.

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