Signs of ageing around your face and neck may be impacting your self-confidence and self-esteem. After all, we often feel younger on the inside and we want that to be reflected on the outside. If this sounds familiar then you may be considering cosmetic surgery.

A facelift could be a good option for you as it lifts and tightens the skin, giving your face a younger looking appearance.

Here’s everything you need to know about the facelift procedure.

What is a facelift?

A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic procedure which lifts and pulls the skin back to make the face appear smoother and tighter. It’s a common procedure in older people where the skin and tissues have naturally started to lose their elasticity.

Focussing on the bottom two thirds of the face and the neck, the procedure may involve removing excess skin, smoothing out wrinkles and tightening the tissues in the face.

In addition to a facelift, other procedures may be carried out at the same time including correcting droopy eyelids, a brow lift or a neck lift to tighten the skin in the neck.

Why might you need a facelift?

When we get older, the muscles in our face become less taught and the skin loses its elasticity. This creates folds, wrinkles and lines which tend to make us look older and can affect how we feel on the inside.

A facelift can help to increase your confidence in the way you look.

Preparing for treatment

You will get lots of information and tailored advice from your surgeon on how to prepare for your treatment and you should ensure that you note down any questions you might have and ask them. It’s important that you feel comfortable in the run up to your procedure.

You should try to stop smoking as far in advance of your surgery as possible as nicotine can slow down the healing process as well as leading to complications.

Ensure that you exercise regularly and follow a healthy balanced diet so that you are as healthy as you can be in the run up to your surgery.

You should arrange for someone to take you to and from the clinic for your surgery and to do anything that you’ll need them to do while you’re recovering. You might want to ask them to stay with you for a couple of nights once you are home.

What does the facelift procedure involve?

There are different types of facelifts and the procedure that you have will depend on your needs and your goals. Your surgeon will explain your options and discuss this with you and decide on the best treatment.

You will usually have your surgery under a general anaesthetic which means that you will be asleep during the procedure.

A typical facelift will look something like this. Your surgeon will make incisions above the hairline at your temples. These will lead down in front of the ear, going underneath the lobe and then behind the ear. If you have a sagging jawline that also needs to be lifted, they will also make some cuts underneath your chin.

Once the cuts have been made, your skin is carefully separated from the muscles underneath. Any excess fat will be removed and the muscles will be tightened. The fat may be redistributed elsewhere on your face, for example into your cheeks.

The skin is then lifted, pulled backwards and upwards and any excess is removed. Here it is stitched back to the line where the original incision was made.

Your face will then be wrapped in bandages to minimise any bruising or swelling. Depending on the procedure you have, your bandages might go under your chin, round your ears and over your head.

The procedure will usually take around two to four hours and most people stay overnight in hospital to recover following the treatment.


Once your facelift is complete, you’ll be taken to a recovery room and here you’ll start to come round from the anaesthetic. You’ll then be able to rest and recuperate until you can go home.

Your bandages will be removed after one or two days and you should avoid showering while they’re on so that they don’t get wet. Keep your head propped up with pillows for the first couple of days to help reduce the swelling.

It is normal to feel some pain or discomfort as well as swelling and bruising following a facelift. Your surgeon will provide you with pain relief to help ease this and you may want to take these for a couple of days following your surgery.

Once it’s time to go home, you’ll need to get someone to pick you up as you’ll be unable to drive and then you may want to ask them to get you some shopping as you won’t be feeling well enough for tasks like this just yet.

After around a week your stitches will be removed, unless you had dissolvable ones.

It takes between two and four weeks to fully recover. You’ll be bruised for at least two weeks and it could take up to nine months to see the full effect of the facelift and the results that you desired.

Avoid strenuous activities like exercise as well as saunas and massages for at least the first two weeks.

Risks and side effects

Common side effects which you should expect following your facelift include your face feeling stiff, puffy and numb for a few weeks or months, temporary bruising in the cheeks, scars which will fade over time and a raised hairline.

Facelifts are very common procedures and they are usually very successful. Occasionally some complications may occur following the operation.

Problems that can be experienced following a facelift include nerve injury, asymmetrical facial features and hair loss. More severe risks include excessive bleeding, developing a blood clot, infections and experiencing an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic used.

As with any procedure, following the correct aftercare advice will minimise the risk of experiencing severe side effects.