April 4th, 2012 Miguel A. Delgado Jr, MD
When to have a facelift(also known as a rhytidectomy) is a very popular question among San Francisco Bay Area patients. The short answer is when you feel ready. There isn’t a particular timeline because there are many variables to consider such as:
• The elasticity of the skin
For some patients they may start noticing the skin in the jowls and neck are starting to sag. This is usually the most disturbing condition that prompts many to seek solutions. The sagging of the skin is not age specific, for some it can start as early as the mid thirties and for some fortunate ones maybe not until their fifties! This is more of a genetic issue and not something you can control.
• The condition of the skin
This is something that is part heredity but how the patient cares for their skin can make a big difference. Being very careful in the sun from an early age is important. Sunburns can do a lot of damage but usually do not show up until later in life. Using sun screen, hats and sunglasses is recommended. There are many good skin care products on the market that can help keep the skin clean and moisturized. Drinking lots of water will help keep skin hydrated.
• Patient’s mental attitude
Deciding to have a facelift is very personal, for those who just are not sure if they are ready should wait. But if someone is determined and if their surgeon is in agreement there is no reason not to proceed and age should not be a factor.
• Expectations and desires
Everyone wants perfection, including the surgeon, but that is not realistic or possible. Having good communication with the surgeon is very important so that a patient understands what to expect from the results of the surgery. Many times patients only want to correct what is bothering them such as the neck. This can make the rest of the face look unnatural having one area youthful and another area aged. Having facial harmony is the ideal and experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeons will explain this to their patients. Patients must consider downtime for recovery, risks from surgery and costs.
• Finding the right surgeon
An experienced facial plastic surgeon will be able to guide the patient in making the right decision as to when they are ready for surgery by asking all these important questions. Seek out a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who specializes in facelifts and be sure to see many before and after pictures of the surgeon’s patients. It is reasonable to ask to speak to patients of the surgeon to hear first hand of their surgical experience.
For the patient that wants to start early, they will find that their results are more subtle leaving them with a refreshed look. This is the preference of many who wish to keep their surgery unobvious and having revisions or secondary surgery later when things start to relax in order to continue to look great. But some patients want to delay as long as possible not minding a more dramatic look as they only want to have surgery once. There isn’t a right or wrong answer; it is what the patient feels most comfortable with.