A facelift is a surgical procedure to rejuvenate the facial structures and the skin, so that you still look like yourself, but more rejuvenated. Just like any other surgical procedure, there are risks involved with a facelift, and they include bleeding, scar formation, infection, a result that is too tight or too loose, injury to facial structures, and reactions to anesthesia.
Blood flow to the face is excellent, due to many blood vessels. However, if excessive bleeding occurs, you can potentially develop a bruise or a hematoma, an abnormally large collection of clotted blood. This is a surgical urgency or emergency, and many times this clot can simply be removed with a needle and syringe, provided that the plastic surgeon knows about it. If the clot is too big, then you may require a small procedure to remove it. To avoid this complication, make sure to tell your doctor about any blood thinning medications you’re on, such as aspirin, Coumadin, or other medicines.
Scars are hidden behind the hairline, in front of the ear, and behind the ear. Care of your surgical incisions immediately after surgery will ensure the best result possible for your facelift. It’s important to care for your scars well after your surgery as well, since scars may change appearance over a long period of time. If your scars turn thicker, wider, or more red after your facelift, you may need sun protection, anti-scar creams, anti-scar bandages, or every cortisone injections to get the best results possible.
The amount of facial skin and structure tightness after a facelift is very subjective, and may also be a result of your overall health and your skin’s characteristics. You don’t want a result that is too tight, because this will look unnatural. Also, a result that is too loose may not give you the rejuvenation that you wish for long term. It’s important to talk to your plastic surgeon before surgery and show him or her what result you would like to achieve. You may or may not have realistic expectations of what is possible or not with a facelift, and your plastic surgeon should be able to show you how tight your facelift can really be.
Injury to underlying facial structures is a very rare but possible complication. The SMAS, or the tissue around the facials structures, is what is tightened to give a long-lasting result that lasts longer than just tightening facial skin. Sometimes excessive swelling or bleeding may put too much pressure on the branches of the facial nerve. This usually goes away with time, but it may take several months for the swelling to no longer put pressure on your nerves.
Reaction to anesthesia is not really a risk with a facelift, but rather, a risk that is associated with your overall medical health and age. Most patients who undergo a facelift are older, and may have medical illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure that need to addressed by the anesthesiologist and your family doctor before your procedure. A reaction to anesthesia is rare, but it usually associated with your overall health and not necessarily with your facelift procedure.
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