As we age, our appearance changes. As children, we’re all big eyes and full cheeks. With maturity, the face retains a full and soft look while assuming a more adult proportion. It is sometime within this window of young adulthood that we imprint our body image. We learn to identify ourselves and that self is whom we recognize when we look in the mirror.
The decades inevitably bring about changes in our appearance. The skin loses its elasticity, and we see sagging and wrinkles. Something is missing. You can still look good, but it is different. Facial volume shifts and sometimes shrinks, the apple of the cheek is lost. Jowls appear and you wonder if the fat marched from the cheek toward the chin, ready to jump off. The neck muscles become more visible like tight bands pulling the face toward the chest. The facial bones change and you look a little skeletal. All of these events occur to us in varying degrees. We may not see it coming, but when it hits, we know it.
The goal of the face-lift and neck-lift is to restore the facial appearance to match our body image. Facelifts can also give visual impact to a face that never had it. When performed well, the face-lift looks more like a well-deserved vacation than a tropical windstorm.
As in any medical intervention, we begin by identifying the problem. Your opinion is what ultimately counts. You need to say what bothers you. Sometimes, the cause of a given feature might not be obvious to you. That’s when the knowledge, experience and critical appraisal of a plastic surgeon helps define the problem. We analyze feature by feature, beginning at the top of your head and working down the neck. We look for the continuity of features. Restoration of the neck could be performed while only addressing the neck. More commonly the best solution involves the face too. An isolated cheek lift might sound like a good idea, but we have to consider what happens to the neighboring structures such as the lower lid and the jawline.
Restoration is more than skin deep. A face-lift is not a skin operation. We have to consider the underlying muscles, fat, and bone. How does one tissue sit on another? The best corrections require a creative application of various techniques. Some fat is removed, some fat is rearranged, and some fat is reintroduced. We refer to the movement of tissues as vectors, or directed forces across an area. We want to stabilize our tissues so that relapse is uncommon. We may augment some tissues to simulate what was once there but went away, or to reinvent some feature that we never had.
Every operation carries a risk of complications. Pre-operative preparation is the key to avoid problems. You must be healthy and tolerate the stress of surgery. Depending on your medical history, you might need your doctor’s approval for this procedure.
Scars are a persistent worry. No one wants visible scarring. The art of this procedure is maximizing the outcome while minimizing scarring. Any attempt to shortchange an operative outcome solely to avoid a scar has to be done with very good reasons. Some patients have these reasons; most do not.
Face-lifts and neck-lifts can be performed totally under local anesthesia. Sedation helps with the stress. The intervention of an anesthesiologist is extremely helpful. They monitor your health while we enhance your appearance. If a general anesthetic is preferred, that too can be varied to keep the procedure comfortable and very safe.
The American Society of Plastic Surgery reported that 126,000 face-lifts were performed in 2012. This number reflects the importance of this operation.
Cost depends on what is performed. A complete procedure for one might be grossly inadequate for the other. The most important point is that unless you have improvement of the features you want corrected, the surgery has failed.
Face- and neck-lifts are the pinnacle of a plastic surgeon’s skill. In the right patient, with the right plan, and with careful execution, the results can be very gratifying for the patient. With Dr. Geldner’s superior skill, 25 years of experience, and his experienced and compassionate staff, we exceed our patient’s expectations.
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“ I am so happy that I decided to have you do my facelift. I can leave the house any day for any reason feeling confident. This has been life-changing for me.”