Facelift (Rhytidectomy)

Our facial skin is some of the thinnest on the entire human body, and it is constantly exposed to the elements. In St. Louis that means hot humid summers and cold, windy winters with dry indoor heat. Throw in the ongoing decline in our collagen production as we age — it declines by one additional percentage point every year after our 20th birthday — and you have the recipe sagging, loose skin, flattened cheeks, deep creases, and lines. As our life expectancies continue to expand, our facial skin has trouble not showing our age, and often then some.

But a facelift with Dr. Steitz can turn back the clock on your facial aging by a decade or more. Dr. Steitz uses a variety of different facelift techniques depending on the individual patient, all with the goal of providing the most natural looking rejuvenation.

What is a facelift?

The facelift is one of the original cosmetic surgeries. The name can confuse some patients, assuming this surgery addresses aging across the entire face, but that’s not the case. A facelift is a surgical procedure that addresses the visible signs of aging in the mid and lower face and the upper neck. Dr. Steitz uses different methods to smooth and tighten the skin of the cheeks, the chin area, and the upper neck. During the procedure the skin is lifted, and underlying muscle and tissue is brought back up to its former higher position. Excess skin is then trimmed.

Today’s facelifts involve much more work on the underlying support muscles and other tissues, and much less pulling of the skin. This creates the most natural rejuvenation.

How does Rhtidectomy Work?Older woman with white hair pointing to her cheek following facelift surgery

Rhytidectomy (or face/neck lift) can provide a more youthful appearance by removing excess skin and supporting the deeper layers of the face.

When Is A Facelift Needed?

As the face and neck age, gravity and sun damage create deep creases in the face, the corners of the mouth can droop and appear sad, jowls can develop which blunt the jawline and excess skin in the neck give the appearance that doesn’t reflect how youthful patients feel.

What are the benefits of a facelift?

Facelifts provide rejuvenation on the mid to lower face. They can take a decade or so off of your facial age. These visible signs of aging respond well to facelift surgery:

    • Deep nasolabial folds
    • Mid-face sagging
    • Jowls
    • Fatty, loose areas below your cheekbones
    • Deep creases under your eyes
    • Banding, fatty tissue, and loose skin on your upper neck

What Are The Different Facelift Procedures?

The facelift is one of the original cosmetic surgeries, with the first documented facelift performed in Berlin in 1901. Up until recently, where technological advances have added options, most facelifts would be called “traditional” facelifts. Today, there are various methods that Dr. Steitz uses depending on the individual needs of each patient. Here are descriptions of a traditional facelift, a limited incision facelift, and a mid-face lift. These are meant to simply give you an idea of what would be done in these surgeries, but every surgery is adapted to the unique needs of the patient.

  • Traditional facelift — A traditional facelift involves the largest degree of lifting and repositioning of underlying muscle and other tissue. The goal is to rejuvenate the lower third of the face, jowls, and neck. Incisions begin at the temples on each side of the face, run down in front of the ears, wrap around the earlobes, and end in the hairline behind the ears. If the patient has extensive jowls, a second incision may be made under the chin to provide access to the skin and muscle of the upper neck. Dr. Steitz usually doesn’t remove fat so much as he repositions it; this avoids the patient having a hollow look after recovery. Excess skin is trimmed, and then the skin is re-draped.
  • Limited-incision/mini facelift — The goals of this facelift aren’t as widespread, instead providing limited rejuvenation around the eyes and mouth, including nasolabial folds and other deep creases. Shorter incisions are made at the temples, around the ears, and if needed, in the lower eyelids and/or under the upper lip. These mini lifts have become more and more popular.
  • Mid-face lift — In a mid-face lift, the target is the middle of the face, particularly the cheeks. Mid-face lifts can reduce puffiness under the eyes, correct nasolabial folds, and improve cheek definition and tone. For this method, Dr. Steitz makes small incisions in the lower eyelids or the mouth.

What are the risks involved with a facelift?

Thanks to Dr. Steitz’s training, board certification, and extensive knowledge of facial anatomy and experience with these procedures, these are pretty low-risk procedures. Of course, this is surgery, so patients are at risk for excessive bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, and poor wound healing.

Specific to facelift procedures, these are the risks:

  • Injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary)
  • Numbness or tingling around the incision areas (temporary)
  • Hair loss at the incision sites
  • Skin discoloration (rare but can continue for several months)
  • Skin healing issues (more common with smokers)

Your Rhytidectomy Procedure With Dr. Steitz

Facelift (Rhytidectomy) St Louis MOFacelift is often combined with fat transfer to the face to optimize the result and may be combined with eyelid rejuvenation if desired. The procedure is done in a surgical suite under varying levels of anesthesia, depending on what Dr. Jeffrey Steitz feels the patient’s needs after his analysis. A variety of techniques can be utilized and are dependent on a patient’s aesthetic ideals and goals of treatment. These include:

  • Less invasive lifts
  • Isolated neck lift
  • More aggressive full facial rejuvenation.

What to expect during recovery

Your recovery depends on the method Dr. Steitz employs for your facelift. Obviously, a mini lift makes for an easier recovery than a full facelift. Facelift surgery involves a good deal of tissue lifting and repositioning, and this creates tissue trauma, swelling, and bruising. There is no way around these aspects of recovery from traditional facelift surgery. This isn’t a simple recovery, by any means. After your procedure, you will have your face wrapped in bandages, and there will probably be a few drainage tubes to minimize fluid accumulation. Your first week or so you’ll need to sleep with your head elevated, making sure not to roll over onto your face. The first few days will be the most difficult, but then you’ll feel better quickly. As you recover, there will be some numbness in areas. This is normal and is a result of the facial nerves adjusting to the re-draped skin. Most patients can return to work by the third week after surgery.

Will I have scarring after my facelift?

With a traditional facelift, Dr. Steitz hides the incisions in the hairline and behind the ears. Other methods have more limited incisions and are well-hidden. Initially during your recovery your incision scars will be red, but this will pass, and they will turn white and then become less and less noticeable. To help this process along, you need to protect your incision lines from sun exposure during your recovery.

Does Insurance cover a facelift?

These are considered to be elective procedures and are not covered by insurance. The exception to this would be in cases where the patient has suffered a traumatic injury and needs plastic surgery to repair facial damage.

Schedule A Consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Steitz

St. Louis Facial Plastic Surgery offers a wide variety of surgical procedures and techniques, as well as non-surgical procedures, to rejuvenate the face and neck. To learn more about our procedures that Dr. Jeffrey Steitz offers at St. Louis Facial Plastic Surgery, contact us today at 314.475.3700 or schedule a consultation.

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