What is Rhytidectomy?

Face lift or Rhytidectomy, is intended to restore a more younger-looking appearance by smoothing out and tightening major wrinkles and sagging skin of the face, neck and jaw line. The muscles of the face and neck are elevated and secured together with the removal of any excess skin. This helps in maintaining the improvement of the contours of the face and neck. The goal of Face Lift is to give you a natural revitalized appearance instead of a look that is overly tight and unnatural.

Effects of Rhytidectomy

A facelift can make you look younger and fresher, and it may enhance your self- confidence in the process. But it can’t give you a totally different look, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth.

Candidates for Rhytidectomy

The best candidate for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but facelifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties as well.

Your Consultation

Your surgeon should check for medical conditions that could cause problems during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke or are taking any drugs or medications, especially aspirin or other drugs that affect clotting.

If you decide to have a facelift, your surgeon will explain the techniques and anesthesia he or she will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the risks and costs involved. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.

The Rhytidectomy Procedure

A facelift may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, but some surgeons may hospitalize patients for a day when using general anesthesia.

A facelift usually takes several hours-or somewhat longer if you’re having more than one procedure done. For extensive procedures, some surgeons may schedule two separate sessions.

Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend in a natural line in front of the ear (or just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear), and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.

In general, the surgeon separates the skin from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The surgeon then tightens the underlying muscle and membrane, pulls the skin back, and removes the excess. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions; metal clips may be used on the scalp.

Following surgery, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. The surgeon may also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.


There isn’t usually significant discomfort after surgery; if there is, it can be lessened with the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. (Severe or persistent pain or a sudden swelling of your face should be reported to your surgeon immediately.) Some numbness of the skin is quite normal; it will disappear in a few weeks or months.

Your doctor may tell you to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery, to keep the swelling down.

If you’ve had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Bandages, when used, are usually removed after one to five days. Don’t be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you’ll be looking normal.

Most of your stitches will be removed after about five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches or metal clips in your hairline could be left in a few days longer.


When a facelift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions, and their healing abilities, and the outcome is never completely predictable.

Complications that can occur include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers.


What is a Rhytidectomy?

A facelift, technically known as a rhytidectomy (literally, surgical removal of wrinkles), is a procedure used in plastic surgery to give a more youthful appearance. It usually involves the removal of excess facial skin, with or without the tightening of underlying tissues, and the redraping the skin on the patient’s face and neck.

What are the limitations of a Rhytidectomy?

The areas not well corrected by a facelift include the nasolabial folds and marionette lines. A facelift leaves long scars. However, the portion of the scars in front of the ear are usually inconspicuous. The scar behind the ear is hidden from casual view. Hair loss in the portions of the incision within the hair-bearing scalp can occasionally occur. In men, the sideburns can be pulled backwards and upwards, resulting in an unnatural appearance. In women, one of the telltale signs of having had a facelift is an earlobe which is pulled downwards and/or distorted. If too much skin is removed (as was common many years ago), the face can assume a pulled-back, “windswept” appearance.

What are the benefits of a Rhytidectomy?

A face-lift will remove excess skin and tightens the soft tissues of your face, chin and neck. It can improve the jawline, sagging cheeks and loose neck skin. To get an idea of the results you might have, place your fingers on the center of your cheeks and press the skin up and back. Skin folds can be tightened and reduced, but not eliminated. If you softly pinch the skin in front of your ear, you’ll see how much skin be excised during the procedure.

How is Rhytidectomy performed?

Facelifts usually begin with an incision at the temples just above the hairline. This incision is extended downwards in front of the ear, below the earlobe, and behind the ear. Placement varies slightly between men and women. The surgeon then separates the skin of the face and the muscle from deeper tissues. Depending on the person’s needs, tissues are reshaped and/or excised.

How effective if a Rhytidectomy?

Most patients are very happy with their results. Patients can expect many wrinkles to be reduced or eliminated, and to appear younger than before surgery. Every single wrinkle will not be eliminated, however, especially more superficial ones.

It is not possible to say how long the effects of a facelift will last, but some degree of rejuvenation will be permanent. It is important to understand that while facelifts bring the skin back to an earlier stage in the aging process, it can not stop the aging process from occurring. Skin aging and stretching will take place, and some looseness of the neck may become apparent within three months. Those with very loose skin in the neck may require a second operation to achieve optimal results.