A face-lift or otherwise known as a rhytidectomy is a plastic surgery that rejuvenates the face and the neck by tightening loose skin. This aesthetic procedure reduces saggy skin on the jawline and cheeks and changes the shape of the face to make it appear youthful again. It also reduces deep skin folds from the sides of the nose to the corner of the mouth.

A neck lift is sometimes performed during face-lift to firm the saggy skin and eliminate excess fat deposits.

Patients decide to undergo face-lift surgery for one reason – to look younger. As people become mature the shape of their faces changes because the skin loses its elasticity and starts to sag. Also, the fatty tissue naturally migrates downwards and creates deposits in the lower area of the face and hollows in the middle or upper area of the face.   

These age-related facial concerns can be reduced with face-lift surgery. The results are smoother skin and a younger-looking face.

Procedure info at a glance

Will I be awake or asleep during the surgery? Local or general anesthesia can be used, it depends on the extent of the surgery
Do I stay in hospital after surgery? Might be needed to stay for 1 night
What is the recovery time? When can I return to work/exercise? 2-6 weeks, depending on the extent of the surgery
How long will the surgery last? 2-6 hours, depending on the extent of the surgery
How long until the final results of surgery are visible? 6 months after the surgery


Depending on their desires and expectations, patients can choose to have a standard face-lift, a mini face-lift and a neck lift. During the initial consultation, the plastic surgeon helps the patient to decide which face-lift will resolve his/her specific age-related skin concerns.

Standard face-lift

includes tightening the skin on the cheeks, jowls, forehead and neck. Sometimes it also includes lifting saggy eyelids.

This type of face-lift addresses each part of the face. It reduces frown lines and lifts saggy brows. This way the upper part of the face looks firmer and rejuvenated.

It makes the middle area of the face more youthful by lifting the underlying tissue and muscles back up under the cheekbones.

It rejuvenates the lower area of the face by reducing deep skin folds, saggy jowls and saggy skin in the neck. It makes the skin firmer and lifted by repositioning underlying tissue and muscles and by eliminating excess fatty deposits and excess skin.

A standard face-lift can make the face appear 10 to 15 years younger.

The procedure lasts between 2 to 6 hours and it is usually an outpatient surgery.

The scars are strategically hidden around the patient’s ears and in the hairline.

A mini face-lift

addresses aging signs in the lower area of the face. It is also known as limited-incision face-lift, S-lift or weekend-lift. It lasts much shorter than the standard face-lift and requires a minimal recovery period.

This type of face-lift includes only a short S incision in front of the patient’s ears. It rejuvenates the lower area of the face by lifting saggy skin and eliminating fatty deposits in the jawline. It repositions underlying tissue and firms the muscles. The skin is pulled towards the cheekbones and saggy jowls are lifted. The incision, created along the patient’s ear, is closed with sutures.

This surgery is ideal for patients who have mild to moderate amounts of saggy skin in the lower part of the face. It is a relatively short procedure – it can be finished in less than 2 hours. The patients can resume their normal daily activities in 4 to 5 days with a new and youthful appearance on their faces.

A neck lift

targets loose skin on the neck without addressing cheeks or jowls. It is less extensive than standard face-lift surgery. It is ideal for younger patients who start to notice loose skin on their necks and for patients who have already had a standard face-lift and now they want to improve the skin on their necks.


Face-lift surgery can address different aging signs. It lifts and tightens saggy skin in all facial areas including cheeks, jawline and neck. It improves the appearance of deep nasolabial folds and marionette lines.

After the surgery, the skin is smooth and firm.

People who are starting to see aging signs like saggy jowls can benefit from a mini face-lift which doesn’t require a long downtime – only a couple of days.

Face-lift can be tailored to address each patient skin concerns – it can be performed together with a brow lift or eyelid surgery for the best results. This way the whole face gets rejuvenated with one surgery.

Once the scars fade away they are practically invisible because they are strategically hidden in the hairline or behind the ears.

The results are natural-looking. The patient still looks like himself only more youthful and refreshed. The results are also long-lasting – with proper skin care and a healthy lifestyle, patients can enjoy their rejuvenated faces for a long time.



    Certain medical conditions can cause risks of unwanted side effects after a face-lift. These conditions include blood diseases, uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure.

    If the patient suffers from any of these medical issues, he/she must inform the plastic surgeon about it.


    The first step is having a consultation with the plastic surgeon. The surgeon examines the patient’s bone structure, fatty deposits, the shape of his/her face and quality of the skin to conclude which face-lift surgery is the best for the patient’s specific age-related skin concerns.

    The patient talks about their previous medical history and current medications. The surgeon takes into account the patient’s desires and expectations from the surgery and creates a customized treatment plan.

    The surgeon gives the patient preoperative instructions which include:

    Avoiding blood-thinning medications like aspirin or ibuprofen to prevent excessive bleeding during and after the surgery.
    Stopping smoking because smoking can interfere with the healing process.
    Arranging for someone to drive the patient home after the surgery and staying with him/her for the first 24 hours.

    It is also recommended not to fluctuate in weight because it can affect the shape of the patient’s face. If the patient loses and gains weight all the time, he/she might not be satisfied with the outcome of the face-lift.


    When the patient arrives at the surgical facility, he/she is prepped for the surgery.

    Then the patient is given general anesthesia or sedation and local anesthesia - it depends on the extent of the surgery and the surgeon’s and anesthesiologist’s choice.

    The extent of the surgery depends on the type of face-lift the patient is having.

    During a standard face-lift, the surgeon makes the incision starting from the patient’s temples in the hairline, continuing down and around the front side of the ears and ending behind the ears. The surgeon can also make an incision under the patient’s chin to lift the skin on the neck. The skin is elevated and underlying tissue and muscles are tightened. Fatty deposits are removed or repositioned. The excess skin is removed and the incision is closed with stitches.

    During a mini face-lift, the surgeon makes a shorter incision just in front of the patient’s ear and improves the appearance of the lower area of his/her face.

    The patient can go home soon after the surgery unless advised otherwise. Then he/she needs to spend the night at the surgical facility.


    Every surgery carries a certain amount of risk so face-lift is no exception. After the surgery, the patient might experience swelling, bruising, pain, numbness and drainage from the incisions. These side effects should resolve after a couple of weeks.

    More serious but rare side effects include excessive bleeding, infection, hematoma, raised scars and hair loss.

    In case of more severe side effects, the patient must inform the surgeon immediately.


    After the surgery, the patient’s incisions are covered with bandages that gently pressure the treated area to reduce bruising and swelling.

    There are several follow-up appointments during which the plastic surgeon is monitoring how the patient is recovering. The first appointment is the day after the surgery when the surgeon changes the patient’s bandages. The second appointment is 2 to 3 days after the surgery when the surgeon removes the patient’s bandages and applies an elastic facial sling to his/her face. Finally a week post-operation, the surgeon removes the patient’s stitches and accesses the wound.

    Regarding aftercare, in the first couple of days, the patient should sleep with the head slightly elevated to reduce the swelling. He/she can also apply cold packs to the treated area to reduce the pain and bruising.

    Other aftercare recommendations include:

    Taking care of the wound as instructed by the plastic surgeon
    Not touching the crusts that develop on the wound
    Wearing clothes that button in the front and not pulling clothes over the head
    Avoiding pressuring or too much moving of the head and face
    Avoiding strenuous activities and sports.
    Avoiding makeup
    Avoiding direct exposure to the sun for 3 weeks and using a high SPF after that time
    Avoiding bleaching or coloring hair for a minimum of 6 weeks

    After 4 to 6 weeks the patient can get back to normal. However, it all depends on the speed of recovery so some patients may need more time to recover and resume their everyday activities.

    It is important to follow all the surgeon’s post-care recommendations in order to avoid unwanted side effects and to achieve the best results of the surgery.


    The first results of a face-lift can be seen 4 to 6 weeks post-procedure. There might still be some swelling and bruising, so it will take 6 months to see the full results of this surgery.

    The face and neck will look younger and firmer. The results of the surgery should last for 10 to 15 years. The patient can prolong the effects of the surgery by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and taking proper care of his/her facial skin.

    A face-lift surgery can make the patient appear youthful again but it can’t remove fine lines, sun damage or skin tone and texture irregularities.