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Deconstructing the Facelift

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Q: What exactly is a facelift?
A: “Facelift” is a generic term that refers to lifting the soft tissue of the brow, face or neck back into position by addressing the sagging neck and jowl tissue. Typically when someone refers to a facelift, they are referring to the lower half of the face; the upper half of the face and brow are referred to as a brow or forehead lift procedure. The most common areas addressed with a facelift are the jowls, wrinkling, double chin and sagging neck area. A facelift will often include liposuction of the neck. Some patients will also opt to address the aging of their eyelids when considering a facelift.

Q: What is the best age for a facelift? How can I tell if I’m a good candidate?
A: There is really no best age. The typical age range is between 45 and 75 years of age. Age is relative, since some folks in their older years are actually more physically fit and mentally healthy than someone in their younger years. Patients in their 40s who are starting to see the signs of aging along the jawline and neck can be best addressed with a weekend lift or minilift. Other patients seek treatment in their 50s, yet it’s not unusual to have a patient who is fit, healthy and of good spirit who is looking for facial rejuvenation in their 60s and 70s. Seek consultation with a facial plastic surgeon to get the best advice and guidance. With computerized imaging, you can get a good idea of the possible outcome and decide if your expectations are reasonable and realistic.

Q: What anesthesia is used?
A: A facelift procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis. The anesthesia is administered intravenously and is consistent with a twilight sleep or twilight anesthesia, much like anesthesia when one undergoes a colonoscopy. Some surgeons prefer general anesthesia. The procedure takes about two and a half to three hours; the patient is monitored until the anesthesia has worn off, and the patient is able to stand up and walk around before they are discharged. The average stay after the procedure is anywhere from one to two hours.

Q: What is the cost of a facelift?
A: This varies depending on several factors including the experience of the surgeon, the type of lift performed, geographic location and variations in the patient’s anatomy. Facility and anesthesia charges are separate and may range from $1,500 to $2,500. The surgeon’s fee can range from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the type of facelift. I perform four different types of facelifts: a weekend lift (mini lift); an extended weekend lift; a weekend/neck facelift and a more extensive deep plane face and neck lift with liposuction.

Q: What are the risks associated with facelift surgery?
A: As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks. But you can lessen risk by seeking a consultation with an experienced facial plastic surgeon. While most reputable surgeons will discuss potential risks such as infection or bleeding, major complications are extremely rare when the surgery is performed by an experienced and qualified surgeon. ■

Written by: Dr. Edwin Williams


Celebrating 25 years in practice, Dr. Williams is the founder of the Williams Plastic Surgery Specialists and Williams Rejuva Center and is board certified in Facial Plastic Surgery.He is a past president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons and teaches nationally and internationally Recently he was awarded “Top Doctor” Award and was featured in the New York Times. Dr. Williams is also a Diplomate of the National Board of Medical Examiners and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. He is the author of Rhinoplasty: Everything You Need to Know about Fixing and Reshaping Your Nose and Blepharoplasty: Everything You need to know About  Revitalizing Your Aging Eyes. Visit or call 518-786-7000 for more information.