A Guide to Facelift Surgery: What You Need to Know


Many patients come to Charlotte Plastic Surgery hoping to achieve a more youthful appearance, particularly for their face. Naturally, many of these patients end up asking us about having a facelift surgery performed.

Certainly, a facelift surgery can be a natural option for anyone who’s looking to subtly yet substantially alter the appearance of their face. Before you schedule your procedure, though, it’s good to gain a clear understanding of what a facelift is, what issues it can address, and what the recovery process is like.

The best way to gain knowledge about facelift procedures, and to determine whether it’s a good option for you, is to make an appointment with us. One of our providers will be pleased to provide you with a full, one-on-one consultation.

In the meantime, here are some essential points about having a facelift performed.

facelift before and after

What is a Facelift?

A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic procedure that’s meant to reshape the lower half of the face, providing a more youthful appearance. While the specific goal of a facelift can change from one patient to the next, it’s generally focused on the removal of excess skin, which can reduce sagging, jowling, wrinkles, fine lines, and more.

Facelifts are commonly rolled together with other procedures, including surgical interventions involving the eyes, eyebrows, forehead, etc.

Why Get a Facelift?

We often recommend facelifts to individuals who are looking to rejuvenate the face, and specifically to get rid of sagging or extra skin, resulting in a more youthful, lifted appearance.

Choosing to have a facelift surgery is a more serious step than opting for fillers or injectables; it’s a little more invasive and comes with a greater recovery window, but it may also present you with more significant and long-lasting results.

We think it’s good to consider a facelift if you’re ultimately looking to do any of the following:

  • Remove or lift sagging skin
  • Reduce the drooping of the cheeks
  • Lift the corners of the mouth, lower face & neck
  • Reduce creases and fine lines, particularly between cheeks and lips

To learn more about whether a facelift is right for you, we invite you again to set up a one-on-one consultation with a provider from Charlotte Plastic Surgery.

What to Expect with Facelift Surgery

As for the specifics of the procedure, facelifts are generally performed on an outpatient basis. The surgery happens with the patient under either local or general anesthesia, and in most cases the patient is free to go home the same day.

The duration of a facelift varies, depending on the scope of work that the patient has requested; it’s reasonable to expect your facelift to take anywhere from two to five hours.

There are different ways in which a facelift can be performed, but the customary option is for the surgeon to make a small incision in front of the ear. The incision is extended up to the hairline.

Then, the surgeon will gently lift the skin off the deep facial muscles and fat, then pull that skin upward. Excess skin is subsequently removed.

Note that in some cases a small incision may be made below the chin, where excess skin from the neck can be pulled up and removed. This is really more a neck lift than a face lift, but many patients choose to have these procedures done in tandem. And, as noted above, you may decide to have your facelift done at the same time as you have a procedure completed for your forehead, eyebrows, etc.

When the excess fat has been removed, the incision sites will be closed up and bandaged as needed.

guide to facelift

What is Facelift Recovery Like?

Any time you have a surgical procedure done, you can anticipate a season of recovery. It’s important to allow your body some time to rest and heal. Facelift procedures are no exception.

It is normal for there to be some discomfort, bruising, and/or swelling. The good news is that the worst of these symptoms will subside after two days or so, and our doctors can provide a long-lasting pain medication called Exparel that will keep you fairly comfortable for about 48 hours. Thus, most patients are able to coast through the worst parts of the recovery process.

Some swelling and bruising may persist for up to two weeks. Additional pain medications can be given as needed, but many patients do just fine with some basic OTC remedies.

We generally advise patients to rest up and recuperate for about two weeks. And, we counsel patients to avoid vigorous activity or strenuous exercise for at least four weeks.

Before your surgery, you’ll be given specific instructions on anything you need to do to keep bandages clean, and you’ll also be advised on when to return for a follow-up appointment, where we’ll confirm that you’re healing as intended and remove sutures if needed. Generally, this will be within a few days of your procedure.

Are Facelifts Safe?

With any surgical procedure, there’s always some risk of complication. To help mitigate that risk, we like to screen our patients carefully, and we only recommend this surgery for those who are in overall good, robust health.

This is an important part of the initial consultation. We’ll take your medical history and provide a quick medical exam, verifying your eligibility for a facelift procedure. And, we’ll advise on any steps you can take to ensure a speedy recovery.

Specifically, we’ll look at things like:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood clotting
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Medications, particularly blood thinners
  • Allergies
  • Scarring
  • General skin condition

It’s important to us that our patients make a fully informed decision about whether to have a facelift done. With that in mind, we invite anyone who’s thought about getting a facelift to reach out to us directly. We’d love to set up a consultation and talk with you more about whether a facelift is right for you.

Contact Charlotte Plastic Surgery to coordinate your consultation.