Many patients inquire about thread lifts and other so-called “lunch time procedures” to achieve facial rejuvenation.  Facelift is the gold standard treatment to address signs of facial aging.  Why is a facelift major surgery?  The answer relates to the following factors:

          General anesthetic

A facelift is most commonly performed under general anesthetic.  This ensures patient safety during the procedure.  A board-certified anesthesiologist carefully manages each patient from the moment you enter the operating room until stable and resting comfortably in the recovery room.  This leaves the surgeon to focus exclusively on technical execution of the surgery.  Although patients occasionally express concern regarding post-operative nausea, the incidence has decreased with newer anesthetic protocols and anti-emetics.  If you have experienced nausea following previous surgeries, this is important to discuss with the surgical and anesthetic team on the morning of surgery.  Facelift under a general anesthetic ensures maximum patient safety and comfort during the procedure.  This helps to maintain a stable blood pressure, which reduces bleeding during surgery.  It is important to be fully immobilized during a facelift given the delicate nature of surgery and to lower the risk of injuring facial nerves and other structures.  Considering facelift major surgery is based on undergoing general anesthetic in an operating room setting as opposed to lesser invasive procedures, which may be performed under local in an office visit.

          Longer recovery

Facelift is also considered major surgery based on a longer recovery time than following lesser invasive treatments.  Swelling may linger for several months, however the majority of swelling and bruising resolves over the first few weeks post-operatively.  Since the surgery is more extensive, it is also important to modify one’s activities during recovery to lower risk of bruising or prolonged swelling.  Exercise may be resumed by one month post-operatively.  Patients may generally return to work within a week of surgery, although a longer timeframe may be preferred if keeping surgery a private matter.

          Surgical risks

Risks of facelift are greater than those of lesser invasive procedures.  Risks of facelift surgery relate to bleeding and healing complications, as well as aesthetic risks.  Early risks include bleeding, infection, delayed wound healing, and potential injury to surrounding structures, most importantly branches of the facial nerve.  Aesthetic risks include over- or undercorrection as well as other risks relating to wound tension; for example, scar migration (lowering of the scar behind the ear over time) or a pixie ear deformity, which pulls on the earlobe at site of wound tension.  Considering facelift major surgery relates to these associated risks.  Although the risks are greater, the results following a facelift are more long-lasting than lesser invasive techniques and treatments.

          Preparation needed

Considering facelift major surgery also relates to required preparation leading up to surgery.  It is important to refrain from taking anti-inflammatories over the month before surgery.  These medications (including Advil, Aleve, Aspirin) may increase risk of bleeding.  It is important to take time off from work as needed for recovery and to arrange a ride to and from surgery.  Following a general anesthetic, it is also important to have a companion stay with you for at least 24 hours until the anesthetic effects have fully worn off.  Preparing meals in advance and filling prescriptions, etc. is also recommended.

          Financial investment

A facelift is also considered major surgery based on the financial investment.  Surgical expenses include the surgical and anesthetic team, operating room and equipment costs, as well as an overnight stay for monitoring in the surgical facility.  While more costly than lesser invasive procedures, facelift results are more long-lasting and may prove to more cost efficient than undergoing lesser invasive treatments – for example, facial fillers or thread lifts – on a routine basis.

Please contact us if considering facial rejuvenation in the Toronto area.  Dr. Power will determine whether a facelift may help you achieve your aesthetic goals.