What is a facelift?
Mention “plastic surgery” to look younger and the word “facelift” will surely be mentioned. It is one of the oldest and most well-known operations and it remains an important procedure in facial rejuvenation up to this day.
A facelift, medically known as rhytidectomy, does not lift the face. It lifts the neck and the jowls. There are many variations of the facelift. The vary in incision used, depth of lifting, what structures are lifted, how they are lifted and how the lifted structures are anchored. It is a complicated topic and only surgeons with a special interest in this procedure bother about the details. It is not part of the standard medical curriculum taught to non-plastic surgeons.
Simply put, a facelift is a cosmetic surgical procedure that re-positions the sagging soft tissue of the face and neck back to its position in youth. As we age, our skin begins to lose elasticity and our facial tissue loses volume. This creates “loose skin” and wrinkles.
How Does a Facelift Work?
There are some areas of the face where the skin is firmly attached to the deeper tissues. The skin at these areas does not sag with age. Instead, the tissue above these areas sags over it, creating a deep fold.
The most visible examples are the nasolabial folds or “laugh lines”, and the jowls along the jawline. These deep folds in the face are not easy to correct. Injecting fillers into these folds makes them shallower and camouflages the appearance, it does not actually lift the soft tissue that sags over the fold.
The white arrows indicate the nasolabial folds where the skin is firmly attached to the deeper laters and does not sag. The tissue above that, indicated by the red arrow sags over it creating the nasolabial folds. Similarly, the green arrows indicate the area where the skin is firmly attached to the jaw and the sagging tissue above it creates the jowls (yellow areas). A facelift lifts these sagging areas to restore a youthful appearance.
What are the types of facelifts?
This approach focuses on addressing sagging jowls, deep wrinkles, and loose skin in the lower face and neck. This requires a long incision extending behind the ear because this extension is required to correct the “Turkey Neck”)
This is good for East Asians and people with minimal signs of aging. The mini facelift corrects the jowls and lower cheeks but has minimal effect on the neck. This technique involves smaller incisions and a shorter recovery period but is not adequate to correct more severe ageing of the neck. This is the most popular facelift procedure in our practice because it is simple, quick and can be done as an out-patient procedure.
Concentrating on the middle portion of the face, this technique addresses sagging cheeks and nasolabial folds. It can be performed independently or in conjunction with other procedures.
What is the best age for facelift surgery?
Generally, in Singapore, most of us would start thinking about getting a facelift after we get past the golden 40.
While there is no ideal age for a facelift, Asians typically show the signs of aging later than Caucasians. The latter are likely to require more extensive facelift than Asians, who may only require a Mini-lift. While genetics is not something we can easily change, there are other variables that affect the suitability and decision to get a facelift.
How long does it take to recover from a facelift?
Swelling and bruising are common in the first few days, gradually subsiding over 2 – 3 weeks. Strenuous activities should be avoided initially, and your surgeon will provide guidelines for care during this crucial phase. The length of recovery depends on the type of (and therefore how extensive) procedure was done. Diabetic patients tend to recover more slowly. Most importantly, patients who don’t take care of the wound will get the facelift area infected.
Does smoking affect the results?
It is said by some that smoking makes one look older. While that is a debatable statement, one thing is for sure – smokers are at greater risk when having a facelift. The blood supply to the skin is poorer and when the surgery is extensive, the skin flap that has been raised may not heal after surgery.
You may have heard claims that people with oval faces show sagging around the jowls earlier in life. If that is even true, it also means that they also show more improvement after a facelift.
How long does a Facelift last?
The procedure makes you look younger by restoring your appearance to a younger age and you start ageing from there. This means that whatever makes you look old will shorten the longevity of the result, such as poor health or weight loss.
Thread Face Lift and Face Lift Tape
Thread facelift involves inserting threads under the skin to lift and contour areas that have lost firmness. In the earliest days of thread lifts, nonabsorbable threads were used. There were some who had long-term complications e.g. dimpling, recurrent “pimples” along the line of the threads.
The manufacturers then introduced absorbable threads that supposedly caused fewer complications.
Absorbable or not, now that threads have been around for years, we can safely conclude that threads do not give as good a lift nor does the effect last very long. They cost in the thousands. All it takes is 2 – 3 sessions with the threads and it costs more than surgery.
We have had to remove threads from patients who have done them not just in Singapore but in other countries. We had a case who had her threads done, in Korea, by the “inventor” of the threads himself. She suffered persistent headaches but could not find the original surgeon because he retired. Fortunately, she found someone who knew the inventor and could tell us what his method was and could provide us with the necessary information to find and remove the threads.
Facelift Before and After
A facelift is definitely a useful procedure for rejuvenating East Asian faces. We age differently from White people and should count our blessings that a simple mini-lift is enough for many East Asians.
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Face lift in Singapore
Ultimately, the decision of whether to undergo a facelift procedure is a big decision and should be made in consultation with a qualified surgeon. Our practice, SIM ENT & Facial Surgery, established in 1999, has extensive experience in advising and proposing the best solutions for our patients. We assess your individual needs and help determine the best approach to achieving your desired outcome.
Keen to learn more? Make an appointment for a consultation with us and let us help you in achieving your aesthetic needs today!