Facelift -- Better than Facial Fillers for One Patient
By C. Downey © 2008
PlasticSurgery.com Staff Writer
P.K., 59, of Plano, Texas, has worked in plastic surgery for 15 years. For the last 11, she has served as the practice administrator at the office of Plano plastic surgeon Robert Wilcox, M.D. She knew the doctor was extremely capable because both of her sisters had traveled from California -- which is home to thousands of plastic surgeons -- to Plano for a face lift performed by Dr. Wilcox.
"I started thinking about a face lift because normal aging has caused me to look like a frowning, unhappy person -- which I am not," P.K. says. (She asked to remain unidentified for medical privacy.) "I tried Restylane ®, but I am allergic to an ingredient in it and had a very serious -- although rare -- allergic reaction."
“Because I've worked in plastic surgery, I knew that a face lift rejuvenates everything between the cheeks and the collar bones ”
The most noticeable features that are softened in a typical face lift are the nasolabial folds, the deep creases that run from the corners of the nose to the edges of the mouth. In addition, most face lift patients want some remediation in the drooping skin on the jaw line, along with the folds, wrinkles, and fat deposits around the neck.
"Because I've worked in plastic surgery, I knew that a face lift rejuvenates everything between the cheeks and the collar bones," she says. "And I especially wanted my neck to be firmer."
Facial Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgeons turn back the clock and take away the most obvious signs of aging by removing excess facial fat, tightening the muscles of the face, and reshaping the skin of the face and neck.
P.K. did not opt for extra procedures during the procedure, although many face lift patients do ask for eyelid surgery or a forehead lift. Some also ask for facial implants in the chin or cheek areas to regain the most youthful look possible. Most facelift patients are between 40 and 60; however, the procedure can be performed on people well into their 80s.
Patient P.K. shows her pre-surgical face on the left. The right hand picture was taken six weeks after surgery. (Photos, courtesy of Robert Wilcox, M.D.)
A face lift starts when the surgeon makes an incision in the hairline near the temples, continues in front of the ears, then behind the ears, ending in the lower scalp at the back of the head. If the neck is also going to be rejuvenated, a smaller incision is made under the chin, facing the patient's feet. The surgeon then separates fat and muscles; fat is trimmed or suctioned away while facial muscles are tightened to give the skin a firmer bed on which to sit. Excess skin is trimmed away at this point.
Facial Cosmetic Surgery
“Most facelift patients are between 40 and 60; however, the procedure can be performed on people well into their 80s.”
The surgeon closes by stitching the incisions and perhaps inserting a tube to allow excess serus fluid to drain. A bandage may be wrapped around the patient's head to reduce swelling and bruising.
To speed recovery, she knew to keep ice on hand to reduce swelling, and to sleep sitting upright as much as possible.
"I went back to work in a week," P.K. says. "Post-op pain was really very minor; I recall taking a prescription pain killer for a couple of days."
Dr. Wilcox also has a large esthetician, or skin care, practice. Several patients waiting for Botox ®, Restylane or Fraxel ®, saw that P.K. was back at work only a week after her procedure. They asked about her procedure, looked at the early results and were impressed enough to sign up for an initial face lift consultation.
“To speed recovery, she knew to keep ice on hand to reduce swelling, and to sleep sitting upright as much as possible..”
"As time went on, and my swelling went down, other patients who had seen me before my procedure came into the office and said I looked great," P.K. says. "They also wanted to know what I had done. Had I been on vacation? Lost weight? Been working out?"
But she usually just smiled and gave a polite "thank you."
"Another reason my procedure went so well was because I routinely see our clinic esthetician for skin treatments and use a home care regimen she has prepared for me," P.K. says. "Dr. Wilcox says that skin in such good shape always does better after a surgical procedure."