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What Should I Consider Before Getting a Rhytidectomy?

By L. Hepfer
Updated May 17, 2024
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A rhytidectomy is commonly known as a facelift. A rhytidectomy is often performed to treat conditions of aging in the face. It can be done alone or together with other surgeries to produce a more harmonious look to the face. A person who chooses to have a facelift often looks older than she feels and wants to reflect a more youthful appearance.

Different techniques for a rhytidectomy are performed, varying from simple skin lifting techniques to deeper plane lifting techniques. Incisions are cut in front of and behind the ears and may extend into the scalp. Deep layers of the face are lifted, muscles are tightened and liposuction is performed on the neck and jowls. If excess skin cannot be repositioned, it is removed.

Finding a board-certified plastic surgeon through the American Board of Plastic Surgery is vitally important. A surgeon should have before and after pictures of past surgeries, along with many references. Once a surgeon is found, a preoperative consultation will be scheduled.

During this consultation, the surgeon should perform a physical examination, along with a full medical history. The surgeon will take into consideration the bone structure of the patient's face, the skin's texture, elasticity and thickness, along with the underlying structure of the skin, the brow position, and the eye and eyelid aesthetics. A surgical plan will then be put into place with the patient's goals in mind.

Many things should be considered before surgery when having a rhytidectomy. Chemical processing of hair should be done prior to surgery because it cannot be done for a month or more post surgery. A person with short hair may want to grow their hair longer to cover any incisions while they heal. Medications should be discussed to avoid any complications.

Everyone heals differently, therefore, recovery time is usually given as an estimated length of time. Swelling should go down within 24-48 hours and bruising usually disappears after about two weeks. Although one may experience numbness in certain areas of the face, it should only be temporary.

The cost of surgery should be discussed in advance with the surgeon. The cost will weigh heavily on the surgeon's length of experience and where the surgery is taking place because some places have higher costs of living than others. Different components such as the facility fee, the surgeon's professional fee, medications, medical testing, surgical garments and the anesthesia fee all make up the entire cost of the rhytidectomy.

Complications and risks are a part of any surgery. Hematoma, where the blood accumulates under the skin, can cause bruising or blood clotting. There may be infections or certain reactions to anesthesia. Surgeons are trained to manipulate underlying layers of skin and tissues, but complications are always possible. Most complications are rare but should be discussed during the preoperative consultation.

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