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Facelifts: What You Need to Know

Facial aesthetics play a significant role in the perception of age, vitality, and overall well-being. As such, facelifts have garnered considerable attention as an effective method for rejuvenating one's appearance. However, despite their popularity, many misconceptions surround this surgical procedure. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify facelifts by offering an in-depth exploration of rhytidectomy procedures.

What is a facelift?

A facelift, medically known as rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure designed to ameliorate visible signs of ageing in the face and neck. It is primarily employed to counteract the effects of gravitational pull, loss of muscle tone, and depletion of subcutaneous fat, which collectively contribute to sagging and wrinkling of the skin over time. The procedure typically entails the removal of excess skin, tightening of underlying muscles, and redraping of the skin on the face and neck. By doing so, a facelift aims to bestow a more youthful and rejuvenated appearance on people who undergo the surgery.


The intricacy of a facelift varies depending on the individual requirements of the patient and the specific techniques employed by the surgeon. It can range from minimally invasive 'mini-facelifts' to more extensive operations involving the deeper structures of the face and neck. Given the complexity and the associated risks of this surgical intervention, a comprehensive understanding of the procedure, including its benefits and limitations, is indispensable for those contemplating this form of aesthetic enhancement.

Why do people choose to have facelifts?

The decision to undergo a facelift is often the build up of various factors, both psychological and physiological. Foremost among these is the aspiration to mitigate visible signs of ageing, which may manifest as sagging skin, deepening of facial folds, and a decline in skin elasticity. Such age-related alterations can have a considerable impact on an individual's self-perception and, by extension, their interpersonal interactions and overall quality of life.


Additionally, societal norms and expectations concerning beauty and youthfulness may exert a degree of influence. While these influences should not be the sole motivator for opting to undergo surgical intervention, they often contribute to the decision-making process.


In some cases, individuals seek facelifts to address congenital or acquired deformities or asymmetries that are not necessarily age-related. For instance, those who have experienced facial trauma or undergone previous surgeries may opt for a facelift as a form of reconstructive surgery.

Risks and side effects

While a facelift is a commonly performed and generally safe surgical intervention, it is not devoid of potential risks and side effects. It is incumbent upon prospective patients to apprise themselves of these considerations as part of a comprehensive preoperative assessment.


Accumulation of blood beneath the skin, known as haematoma, is one of the most prevalent complications associated with facelift procedures. Immediate intervention is often required to drain the blood.


As with any surgical procedure, there exists the risk of a postoperative bacterial infection. Prophylactic antibiotics are frequently administered to mitigate this risk, yet vigilance for signs of infection remains imperative.


While incisions are strategically placed to minimise visible scarring, the healing process can be unpredictable and may result in hypertrophic or keloid scars.

Nerve injury

The facial region is replete with intricate nerve pathways, and surgical intervention poses a risk of temporary or permanent nerve damage. This could manifest as numbness, tingling, or even muscle weakness in the affected areas.


Although surgical techniques aim for bilateral symmetry, inherent variances in the healing process can lead to asymmetrical outcomes, necessitating additional corrective procedures in some instances.

Skin necrosis

In rare instances, compromised blood flow to the skin flaps created during surgery can result in tissue death, or necrosis. This is a serious complication that may require additional surgical intervention. This will usually prolong the healing process considerably.

Anaesthetic risks

Adverse reactions to anaesthesia, though rare, can occur and may include respiratory distress, allergic reactions, or even cardiac events in predisposed individuals.

Psychological effects

Post-surgical dissatisfaction and emotional distress are not uncommon and should be considered as potential side effects, particularly if preoperative expectations are not adequately managed.

Questions to ask your surgeon

Selecting a surgeon for your facelift is a crucial decision that should be made with due diligence. To ensure that you're making an informed choice and that you fully understand the procedure, it's wise to come prepared with a list of questions to ask during your consultation. Here are some essential questions to consider asking your surgeon:

Credentials and experience

  • Are you board-certified in plastic surgery?

  • How many years of experience do you have performing facelifts?

  • Can you provide before-and-after photos of previous facelifts you've performed?

The procedure

  • What technique do you recommend for my facelift, and why?

  • What type of anaesthesia will be used, and who will administer it?

  • What can I expect during the recovery period?

  • Will I need to stay overnight in the hospital, or is this an outpatient procedure?

Risks and complications

  • What are the potential risks and complications associated with a facelift?

  • How frequently do you encounter complications, and how do you handle them?

  • What measures do you take to minimise risks?

Customisation and outcomes

  • How will you tailor the facelift to meet my specific goals and needs?

  • What can I realistically expect in terms of results?

  • How long will the results last?

Costs and financials

  • What is the total cost of the procedure, including surgeon's fees, hospital charges, and any additional costs?

  • Is financing available, or do you offer payment plans?

  • Will any part of the procedure be covered by insurance?

Post-operative care

  • What does the aftercare involve, and will I have to schedule follow-up visits?

  • How long will it take before I can return to my usual activities, including work and exercise?

  • What kind of support will be available to me during the recovery process?

Additional procedures

  • Are there other procedures that could enhance the results of my facelift, such as a neck lift or eyelid surgery?


Being proactive and asking these questions will not only give you a deeper understanding of what to expect but also provide you with peace of mind. Undergoing a facelift is a significant step, and you need to make sure you're in capable hands. Don't hesitate to take notes during your consultation and take your time weighing up the information before making your decision.

Contact us

If you have experienced problems following a facelift and think they are the result of negligence, talk to our expert cosmetic surgery negligence team today. Call 0808 189 7708 or request a callback by completing the contact form.

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Mike Saul


Michael Saul is a partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, where he brings his extensive specialist legal expertise and passion for helping people to the forefront of his work. With a proven track record of success in cosmetic surgery negligence cases, Michael has dedicated his career to providing clients with the highest level of representation and achieving favourable outcomes.

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