Facelift or Neck Lift. Which is Best for You?

facelift and necklift

Our faces show the signs of aging and lifestyle choices such as our diets, whether or not we smoke(d), and how much unprotected time we spent in the direct sunlight. Many of us have stood in our mirror, lamenting the sagging bagginess, while using our faces to pull our facial flesh up and away, holding the excess flesh and tissue in our hairline. Most of us have had that "what would I look like if I got a facelift?" moment.

Facelift Facts

Dr. Anthony Bared MD, of Facial Plastic Surgery Miami, facelift surgery is used to address your jowls, reduces saggy bags and folds that plague some people's facial skin, specifically beneath the eyes, on the cheeks, and along the jaw. 

When a facelift is done, layers of skin on both sides of the face get pulled away from the face. The tissue that is found under the skin gets surgically molded to the contour of the face, and the result is a naturally younger face for the patient.

Before the flap is sewn up, excess skin and fatty deposits are surgically removed as well.

A neck lift is done as a step in the facelift procedure. The purpose is to decrease the fatty deposits and sagging flesh that forms the infamous "turkey neck" or the double chin.

A facelift is not meant to decrease fine lines and wrinkles in your skin or reverse damage resulting from excessive sun exposure. Those problems can be addressed by other procedures such as laser resurfacing.

Why Choose a Facelift?

As we age, the shape of our face changes, the appearance is no longer the same. Skin loses elasticity thus beginning to sag and fatty deposits disappear in some parts of the face and build up in others.

Changes in the face due to aging include:

  • saggy cheeks
  • baggy and excessive skin on the jawline (called jowls)
  • deepened laugh lines from out nostril to mouth corner
  • sagging neck skin (only if a neck lift is being done with the facelift)

Potential Risks

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the decision to get a facelift is a life-altering decision and it should not be made on the spur of the moment. As with any surgical procedure, risks do exist. Before you get the surgery you will have to sign forms stating that you understand the procedure and you know what complications and risks could potentially arise. The risks that occur with a facelift are extremely rare, but if there is a slight potential, you should be informed. The possible complications are:

  • anesthetic reaction
  • excessive bleeding
  • skin loss due to slow healing of wounds
  • nerve damage to the face with weakness
  • hair failing to grow at incision whether it be temporary or permanent
  • fluid build-up on the face
  • numb sensation
  • chronic pain
  • jagged and deep scars
  • swelling refusing to go down
  • discoloring of the flesh

Additionally, the stitches may become easy to see and irritated by clothing and may require getting the sutures taken out.

 whereas a neck lift is recommended as a procedure to be done during the same trip to the operating room as when a facelift is performed.

Adding a Neck Lift to your Facelift Procedure

A neck lift is a cosmetic procedure that is performed to remove hanging skin and fat deposits around the line of the jaw. It gives the patients face a defined neckline. While the results of the surgery possess great longevity. You must remember that a neck lift does not stop the hands of time. The flesh on your face and your neckline will continue to age.

Why Get a Neck Lift?

The neck lift procedure is done to lessen the aging that shows in the jawline down through the chin and neck. Facelifts and neck lifts are commonly done at the same time.

Risks Involved

As with any surgery, there are risks. The risks associated with neck lift surgery are:

  • internal bleeding
  • anesthesia reaction
  • scarring
  • Clots
  • infection
  • nerve damage
  • loss of skin

How to Prepare for both Procedures

Diet and Meds

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There's a good chance your doctor will tell you to discontinue aspirin and any other medication (even prescribed) 72 hours before surgery. Prescription drugs may include Warfarin, Xarelto, Coumadin, Jantoven, or Heparin. Over the counter medications that should be stopped are aspirin, Ibuprofen, Motrin IB, or Advil.

Cigarettes

Smoking tobacco accelerates the aging of your skin and also bogs down the healing process, sometimes causing extra recovery time. A good doctor will tell you to quit smoking before the procedures can take place.

Do Not Drive

You shouldn't drive yourself to your surgical appointment because you definitely cannot drive home post-op. Additionally, you need an adult to look after you for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

What to Expect

Before having a face and neck lift, your doctor should set up a pre-operative appointment to go over the surgery goals and discuss your expectations. At this point, your doctor will determine what method of surgery will be the best fit for you and he/she may suggest adding on procedures such as browlift, eyelid surgery, and/or laser resurfacing.

Measurements of your face will be taken and the doctor will examine your face and neck. He/she will then formulate a surgical plan. A photo may get taken for before and after comparison.

Your recovering will last a few weeks. If you heal slowly it may take a bit longer. It can take up to six months for the suture lines to fade completely. Your doctor will guide you through post-op.

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