What is a facelift?

Cosmetic surgeon Mr Manu Sood explains how facelift surgery works, and discusses other important information about the procedure.

Many patients see me for a facelift or neck lift as they don’t like the appearance of their jowls, deep creases in the cheeks, or wrinkling of the skin and bands in their neck, as these are recognisable signs of ageing.

Spire patient Marilyn, pictured above, had a facelift and fat transfer after feeling unhappy with the wrinkles on her face; read her full patient experience of the procedure.

With the passing of time, the ligaments that hold the skin of the face in position begin to stretch. At the same time natural fat that is present in the tissues of the face, particularly in the cheeks, begins to decrease. As a result of this, the skin on the face, the brow and the neck begins to sag.

What does a facelift involve?
A facelift is a frequently performed procedure to remove excess skin and treat sagging facial tissues. Through fine incisions, which are hidden in the hairline and around the ears, the saggy skin is removed and the tissues of the cheek and neck are tightened to rejuvenate the face and neck.

A facelift or neck lift is carried out under general anaesthesia and usually involves one night in hospital.

Following the operation a large padded bandage is placed around the neck and face along with a tube drain underneath the skin to remove any blood or fluid that may collect following surgery. The drain is normally removed the day after surgery and so is the dressing around the face and neck.

Patients are usually able to shower before discharge from hospital and are given fresh dressings and an elasticated support for the neck and cheeks. An out-patient appointment will be arranged for a few days after surgery to remove the sutures.

A facelift is often done in combination with eyelid surgery for excess skin and eyebag removal.

There are different types of facelift such as a conventional skin lift, SMAS (submuscular aponeurotic system) lift and MACS (minimal access cranial suspension) lift.


How long does bruising and swelling last following the operation?
Bruising and swelling following surgery normally resolves within ten to 14 days after the operation.


How much time do I need off work?
Most patients are able to return to work and to social activities within two to three weeks of their operation.


How long does the effect of a facelift last?
The effects of a facelift can last up to five to ten years following surgery. A facelift does not stop the process of ageing but can make the effect of the ageing process less obvious.


What are the complications of this procedure?
A small percentage of patients undergoing a facelift can have complications just as with any other surgical procedure, which include bleeding, a blood clot, infection and delayed healing of the wound. Please talk to your surgeon about possible complications before you book for surgery.


Are there any reasons for someone to not have a facelift?
Patients who are actively smoking or on blood thinning medication such as aspirin and warfarin are at a high risk of complications such as bleeding or wound infections. Wounds can also take longer to heal.

If you are a smoker it is advisable not to consume nicotine in any form for six weeks before a facelift. It is also a good idea to stop taking medication such as aspirin or warfarin (if this is not for an essential or life-threatening condition) at the appropriate time before surgery.


By Mr Manu Sood, consultant cosmetic or plastic surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital and Spire Roding Hospital


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.