Facelift Procedure

What is a Facelift?

A facelift is also called a rhytidectomy, and is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin on both the face and the neck.

Enhancing Your Appearance With a Facelift

As we get into our fifties and beyond, we inevitably begin to notice some changes in our appearance. The soft tissues of the face begin to sag off the facial bones. Facial fat is lost from some areas and seems to increase in others. If you’re bothered by these changes in your skin, a facelift can take years off your appearance and let you show to the world a more youthful version of yourself.

A facelift can improve:

  • Sagging skin found in the area of the mid-face
  • Deep creases that appear under the lower eyelids
  • Deep creases which extend from the side of the nose down to the mouth corner
  • Areas of fat that have fallen or have become displaced
  • Appearance of jowls caused by loss of muscle in the lower face area
  • Fatty deposits (excessive) and loose skin found under the jaw and chin areas

In addition to a facelift, we usually need to consider the sagging of eyelids or brows with eyelid surgery (also known as blepharoplasty) and possibly a brow lift. Quite frequently, we also recommend removing any sun damage, hyperpigmentation or broken vessels and smoothing the facial skin texture using some type of laser treatment.

What a Facelift Won’t Do

A facelift will not stop the process of aging and will not change your appearance, fundamentally. It will correct the signs of aging that have already taken place.

There are non-surgical rejuvenation treatments available to improve the visible signs of aging. The results of these treatments are not the same as the results of a facelift procedure. They may help in either delaying when a facelift becomes more appropriate for you and may be used to complement your facelift surgery results.

Should I Consider Facelift Surgery?

Every facelift procedure is individualized for each patient. You should consider a facelift for your own reasons and not to fit into an ideal image others may have, or to please someone else’s desires for you. Consider a facelift procedure if:

  • Physically you are in good health
  • You are a non-smoker
  • You are realistic with what your specific goals are for improving your appearance

What To Expect During Your Consultation With Dr. Bruce Van Natta

A safe and successful facelift depends very much on your being completely candid during your consultation. Be sure to address any problems, concerns and questions with Dr. Van Natta. He will ask you a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.

Be Prepared To Discuss:

  • Why you want a facelift, your expectations and desired outcome
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • Previous surgeries

Dr. Van Natta May Also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Discuss the options available to you for facelift and facial rejuvenation
  • Examine and measure your face
  • Take photographs for your medical record
  • Discuss likely outcomes of a facelift and any risks or potential complications
  • Discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used

Preparing For Facelift Surgery

Prior To Surgery, You May Be Asked To:

  • Get lab testing or a general medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Special Instructions You Receive Will Cover:

  • What to do on the night before and morning of your surgery
  • The use of anesthesia during your facelift
  • Post-operative care and follow-up

Your procedure will be performed at Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, an accredited office-based surgical center, utilizing seasoned, board certified anesthesiologists from St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You’ll Need Help

Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.

Procedural Steps

What Happens During Facelift Surgery?

Step 1 – Anesthesia

You will have a general anesthetic administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist.

There are other procedures which can complement your facelift results and may be performed in conjunction with your surgery. These procedures are:

  • Facial implants
  • Soft tissue augmentation; re-contours your facial structure
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Browlift
  • Resurfacing techniques (such as a laser procedure), improves skin tone and skin texture
  • Injectibles; improves the appearance of wrinkles

Step 2 – Incisions

There are two facelift choices; a traditional procedure, or a limited incision facelift dependent on how much improvement is appropriate.

Traditional facelift incisions usually begin at the temples in the hairline. The incision then follows the hairline down around the ear and ends in the lower scalp. Excess fat in the areas of the face, jowls and neck may be distributed or sculpted, and tissue that lies underneath the skin is adjusted if necessary. Often, lifting even the deeper layers of facial muscle and tissue are involved with a traditional facelift.

Excess skin is trimmed as it is re-draped over uplifted contours. When improving the look of the neck, a second incision located under the chin is used. Incisions are closed with skin adhesives or sutures.

Traditional Facelift Incision

 Facelift I

 Facelift II

Limited Incision

 Facelift III

 Facelift IV

Neck Lift Incision

 Facelift V

 Facelift VI

(Illustrations courtesy of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons)

Step 3 – See the Results

Since the facelift incision is in the hairline and uses the natural form of the face and ear, once healed, the incision becomes well concealed. Your facial improvements will become visible as the swelling and bruising from surgery diminish. Once completely healed, your facelift procedure should restore youthfulness and a more rested look.

Facelift Risks and Complications; Important Facts You Should Know

Making the decision to have a facelift is your decision ultimately, and you'll have to weigh the benefits of having a facelift to any potential risks and possible complications.

Dr. Van Natta and/or his staff will discuss with you these risks and complications, and will answer all of your questions to help you understand the procedure. You will then need to sign consent forms for your facelift ensuring that you understand completely the risks and complications associated with your surgery.

Facelift Risks May Include:

  • Scarring
  • Hematoma (bleeding)
  • Wound may become infected
  • Wound healing that is poor
  • Risks of using anesthesia
  • Hair loss at incision sites (correctable)
  • Injury to facial nerves and weakness
  • Loss of skin
  • Skin sensation of numbness, other skin sensations
  • Fat necrosis, deep fatty tissue could die
  • Accumulation of fluid
  • Pain, which could persist over time
  • Irregularities in the contour of the skin
  • Skin may show discoloration, swelling or may become sensitive
  • Sutures may become visible by spontaneously surfacing to the skin, or cause irritation that requires removal of the sutures
  • Results that are unsatisfactory (and may require an additional surgery), such as facial asymmetry, location of the surgical scar, and the ends of the incisions are visible
  • Cardiac and pulmonary complications, and deep vein thrombosis (very rare)
  • Possibility of revision surgery

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with Dr. Van Natta. If you feel excitement for the anticipated outcomes or become anxious with preoperative stress, while these emotions are common, be sure to discuss your feelings with Dr. Van Natta during your consultation.

Once You Are Home

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following: pains in the chest, breathing becomes short and difficult, or any unusual beating of your heart. While you expect to see good results with your surgery, there is no guarantee. It may not be possible to achieve your desired results with this surgery and there may be need for a second surgery.

Your Recovery

Following Dr. Van Natta’s instructions is the key to your successful facelift. It is critical that your care for your incisions as they are healing and do not expose them to abrasion, excessive force, swelling or motion. Do not wear clothing that requires being pulled over your head. Dr. Van Natta will send you home with your care instructions.

Upon completion of your surgery, your face will be bandaged to minimize bruising and swelling. In addition, a small tube will be inserted that will drain excess blood or fluids that may end up collecting under your skin.

Specific Instructions May Include:

  • Caring for your incision
  • Applying and taking orally any medications that will assist in healing and minimize the risk of infection
  • Checking the incision for concerns and paying attention to your overall health
  • Following up with Dr. Van Natta

Long-Lasting Facelift Results

It may take months for your facial swelling to dissipate completely. Incisions may even take 6 months to heal completely. Sun protection becomes necessary to use for the rest of your life. It is very important to help maintain your youthful appearance by lessoning sun damage and other environmental elements. Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will maximize your facelift appearance over time.

Facelift Costs

Since a facelift is elective surgery, the procedure's affordability should be considered. Prices for facelifts can vary widely. A surgeon’s cost may vary based on his or her experience and the type of procedure being performed – and whether additional surgery (i.e., browlift or eyelid surgery) is also being considered. Remember, cost is not everything. It is extremely important to have a board-certified plastic surgeon perform your procedure.

Typically, health insurance does not cover the cost of facelift. Our practice offers patient financing plans, so ask us about this option.

Facelift Surgery Costs May Include:

  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Cost of the surgical facility
  • Anesthesia
  • Medication/Prescriptions
  • Post-surgery clothing
  • Other medical tests

Your Satisfaction With Your Facelift Results is More Than a Fee

When you are in the process of choosing a plastic surgeon for your facelift, along with the surgeon’s experience keep in mind your comfort level with him or her. This is equally important as the cost of your facelift. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Facelift Glossary

  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to alter consciousness and relieve pain.
  • Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
  • Tear trough: Deep creases below the lower eyelids.
  • Nasolabial fold: Deep creases between the nose and cheek
  • Jowls: A jaw line that sags into the neck, usually caused by loss of muscle tone in the lower face.

Things You Should Know About Dr. Van Natta:

  • He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
  • He was trained specifically in the field of plastic surgery and had 5 years of general surgery training as well as 2 ½ years of plastic surgery training.
  • He also has hospital privileges to perform this procedure at St. Vincent Hospital.
  • He has been in practice for 25 years.
  • His surgical facility, Meridian Plastic Surgery Center, is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, and it is state-licensed and Medicare-certified.

How are complications handled? If you experience a rare complication requiring reoperation, Dr. Van Natta often won’t charge for his services, but you may well have additional expenses for the operating room as well as anesthesia.