Facelift surgery, or a rhytidectomy, is designed to restore a more youthful appearance by removing major wrinkles and sagging skin. It involves tightening of the facial and neck muscles as well as the removal of any excess skin.

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The skin begins to wrinkle and sag as a result of age, sun exposure and genetics. Children and young adults have smooth, round faces due to evenly distributed fatty tissues and good skin elasticity. Over time, as the skin sags and fat redistributes the folds of the chin, jawline and neck become prominent. Not only does a facelift improve facial appearance, but it also has a dramatic effect on the neck, enhancing its contour and profile.

There are multiple ways to perform a facelift and thus all facelifts are not created equal. Some facelifts are minimal with regard to dissection and therefore tend to require less time away from work. As expected, minimal facelifts do not produce the dramatic results or have the longevity of well-performed aggressive facelifts.

Dr. Szutz typically recommends a deep plane facelift. In a deep plane facelift not only is the skin elevated and tightened, but the underlying SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) is elevated to allow for passive mobilization. The SMAS is then repositioned and takes on most of the tension instead of the skin (as in a traditional facelift). This allows for a natural look without the skin being overly tight. A deep plane facelift takes longer than a traditional facelift and is performed under general anesthesia. Recovery is slightly longer than a traditional facelift but a deep plane facelift will last longer.

A facelift can make you look 5 to 10 years younger. Dramatic as the end results are, this is not a simple procedure. It requires about two weeks off from work for recovery. Dr. Szutz is happy to answer any questions you may have about a deep plane facelift as most surgeons do not perform deep plane facelifts.

Before Surgery

We will evaluate your medical history in order to determine your overall health. Dr. Szutz will discuss how your face can look and what you can expect from surgery. His objective is to create a natural appearance that is pleasing to you without the “operated on” appearance of many facelift patients. Before and after photographs will reveal what the surgery has accomplished.

The Procedure

A facelift is frequently performed in conjunction with blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), forehead lift, chin augmentation, and/or liposuction to create an overall rejuvenation of the face.

Dr. Szutz will make incisions inside the hairline at the temple, in front of the ear, then around the earlobe, behind the ear and down the posterior hairline. The skin is elevated first than the SMAS is elevated and repositioned and finally excessive skin is removed. In some cases, fatty deposits are removed from beneath the chin and neck. Incisions are closed with small sutures.

The procedure may take up to 5 hours depending on whether any other procedures are performed at the same time.

Postoperative Care

It is necessary to have someone drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours. Initially you will have a large dressing wrapped around your head. The stitches in front of the ear will be removed in 5 days.

Scarring fades quickly. Swelling and discoloration decrease in two to three weeks. Tightness in your face will be present for several weeks and there may be slight changes in your hair pattern around the incision.

We recommend that you avoid the sun for several weeks after surgery.

Complications following a facelift are rare. These include bleeding, infection, loss of skin behind the ears, facial nerve injury, discoloration of the skin, numbness, asymmetry and scarring. Infection is rare. The risk of bleeding is greater if you take aspirin or blood thinners within 2 weeks of the surgery. The risk of wound complications increases in diabetics, persons with a history of radiation, autoimmune and collagen disease as well as in smokers.

By following pre- and postoperative instructions, you will minimize potential problems.


In the weeks following surgery, the facial skin and area around the ear may be numb. There may also be some temporary discoloration as healing begins which may take a few months to disappear. Occasionally, the facial or trigeminal nerve is bruised during surgery, resulting in temporary loss of function or sensation. However, actual permanent damage to the facial or trigeminal nerve is rare.

The healing process is gradual, so you will not notice final results for 6-9 months. A single procedure often achieves the desired results. Most patients who have had facelifts are pleased with their new, more youthful appearance.