Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)


Face Lift (Rhytidectomy)

A facelift (rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic surgery done to lift up and pull back the skin to tighten the face and make it smoother.

The procedure is designed to reduce sagging skin around the lower part of the face and neck. If you're thinking of going ahead, be sure about your reasons for wanting a facelift and do not rush into it. The procedure can be expensive, the results cannot be certain, and there are risks.

What does facelift (rhytidectomy) involve?

A facelift is normally carried out under general anaesthetic. It may sometimes be performed using a local anaesthetic. There are many kinds of facelift, but generally the doctor will:

  • Make cuts above the hairline at the temples that extend down in front of your ear, beneath your earlobe and behind the ear.
  • Make incisions under the chin if the jawline is also being lifted.
  • Remove the excess facial skin.
  • Pull the left over skin backwards and upwards before stitching it into its new position.
  • Sometimes redistribute facial fat and tissue.
  • Bandage the face to reduce bruising and swelling.

It normally takes two to three hours, and most people need to stay in hospital overnight. Pain relief is provided if you have any discomfort afterwards.


  • It takes about two to four weeks to fully recuperate from a facelift. You need to take this time off work.
  • Bruising is visible for at least two weeks. It could take up to six to nine months to see the complete outcome of the facelift.
  • You will not be able to drive for some days after the operation.
  • You will have to avoid showering and getting the bandages wet for the first 2 days and avoid strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks.
  • You also need to keep your head propped up with pillows for some days while resting to reduce the swelling.

After about a week: Stitches are removed.

After some weeks: Bruises, scars and redness should have faded.

After six to nine months: The full effect of the facelift should be seen.

Side Effects to Expect from facelift (rhytidectomy)

After a facelift, it's normal to have:

  • A stiff, swollen and numb face for a few weeks or months
  • Temporary bruising of the cheeks
  • Scars
  • A raised hairline

What Could Go Wrong

A facelift can sometimes result in problems like:

  • Accumulation of blood underneath the skin (haematoma).
  • Nerve injury and loss of sensation in the face.
  • Asymmetrical facial features.
  • Hair loss or a permanent reduction in hair growth around the scars.
  • Thick, obvious scars developing.

Any type of surgical operation also carries a small risk of:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clot in a vein
  • Infection
  • An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic

The doctor should explain how likely these risks and complications are and how they would be treated if they occurred. Sometimes, patients find the desired result was not achieved and feel they need another operation.

What to do if you have problems 

Cosmetic surgery can go wrong sometimes and the results may not be what you expected.

You should contact the hospital where the operation was carried out as soon as possible if you have severe pain or any unexpected symptoms.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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