Facelift is a powerful surgical technique to address signs of facial aging.  It restores volume to the midface, corrects jowling and marionette lines, and improves neck contour.  It counteracts the effects of gravity on the skin and soft tissues of the face and neck.  While facelift results can be quite dramatic, the trade-off is the resultant facelift scars.  Given that surgery is performed on the most prominent body region, patients often ask many questions regarding facelift scars.  Here are 5 frequently asked questions about facelift scars that may be helpful for those considering facial rejuvenation:

Where exactly are facelift scars?

Facelift scars are designed to be inconspicuous once healed.  The scars follow natural skin creases.  They allow access to the underlying facial muscles, which may be resuspended through this approach to restore volume to the midface.  Redundant skin may also be removed before wound closure, which further tightens the skin envelope.  Facelift scars begin in the sideburn region, generally concealed within the hairline at this site.  The scar then travels down in front of the ear (either behind or in front of the tragus, the cartilaginous structure towards the front of the ear canal), around the curvature of the earlobe, and then back behind the ear hidden in the crease.  The scar then curves backward and continues for a short distance within the occipital hairline of the scalp.

How may I reduce the appearance of facelift scars?

For most patients, the key to reducing scar appearance is waiting patiently for scar maturation, which takes up to one year post-operatively.  Scars will initially appear quite pink when immature and will then gradually fade to skin tone.  It is important to protect immature scars from UV exposure.  Sunscreen should be applied daily (and reapplied throughout the day as needed) to the scars and skin flaps of the face and neck.  SPF 30 is recommended.  This will lower the risk of permanent pigmentation changes during early healing.

What are other ways to optimize the appearance of facelift scars?

Scar massage may be effective during scar remodeling.  It may soften and desensitize scars as remodeling takes place.  If scars appear elevated, silicone gel may occasionally be beneficial.  It may help flatten scars through hydration as well as by increasing scar temperature.  It is not routinely recommended unless scars appear elevated during early healing.  Most facelift scars will improve with only sunscreen, scar massage, and time!

How will regions of delayed healing affect facelift scars?

Occasionally patients will develop regions of delayed healing, most commonly behind the ear.  The risk for healing complications increases with certain comorbidities – diabetes, in particular – and increased wound tension.  Fortunately even regions of delayed healing generally heal well.  If a scar appears prominent following any wound healing complication, a minor scar revision may occasionally be performed to improve scar appearance once scars are mature.

Will the scars disappear over time?

Facelift scars will appear less noticeable over time, however the scars will always be present if one looks closely.  Even plastic surgery leaves scars.  As surgery is meticulously planned and executed, the goal is for facelift scars to be well hidden within natural skin creases and not apparent at conversational distance.  Facelift scars generally heal quite well in the majority of patients.  The scars should not detract from changes in face and neck appearance, which often result in a more youthful facial appearance by 10-15 years!

Please contact us to schedule a consultation if considering whether facelift surgery may be right for you.

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