A facelift from Dr. Eric Okamoto can significantly reduce signs of age along the face and give you a more youthful, vibrant appearance. Our board-certified plastic surgeon custom-designs facelift procedures to suit your individual needs and goals. Dr. Okamoto also focuses on creating results that look beautiful with an emphasis on naturalness. Facelift surgery has been one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures for many years, and has helped both men and women all over the world enhance their appearance and feel great about the way they look.

What Is a Facelift?

Although the name “facelift” seems self-explanatory, the term often has a different meaning to the plastic surgeon than for the consumer. Many patients come to a plastic surgeon with the notion that a “facelift” means refreshing the entire face, but this term is confined to specific anatomical zones including only the cheeks, jawline and also the neck. Some plastic surgeons call it a “face & neck lift” for clarity, but it has the same meaning as a “facelift.” However, it is critical to understand that aging in the forehead as well as the upper and lower eyelids are not addressed with a “facelift” and therefore must be corrected separately if these anatomical zones are on the consumer’s wish list.

When you consult with Dr. Okamoto for a “facelift,” he will generally talk about “facial rejuvenation” (i.e. the entire face and neck) instead and make certain that the two terms are differentiated. He will explain how your sagging cheeks, the depths of your nasolabial folds (depressions outlining the mouth), prominence of the jowls and loss of a well-defined jawline, and neck waddles contribute to your aged appearance – these are among the specific problems improved with a “facelift.” If asked, he will also analyze how your fallen brows, crowded upper eyelids and bagginess of your lower lids contribute toward your aging, all of which are fall outside the “facelift” zone and must be addressed separately.

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What Are the Benefits of Facelift Surgery?

Facelift surgery offers a number of benefits for both women and men who would like to significantly reduce signs of age in the face and neck and achieve a more youthful, refreshed appearance. Some of the potential advantages of this procedure include:

  • Improvement of skin laxity
  • Reduction in the appearance of jowls
  • Reduction in signs of deep wrinkles and folds around the mouth (nasolabial folds)
  • Improvement of fat displacement in certain facial areas
  • Reduction of excess, lax skin along the upper neck and under the chin

In addition to these benefits, a facelift is known for its long-lasting results and its ability to take years off one’s appearance. In the hands of an experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr. Okamoto, the outcome of facelift surgery can also appear very natural, without an “overdone” look.

During your initial consultation, Dr. Okamoto will discuss the procedure with you and perform a comprehensive facial evaluation. If this procedure is right for your needs and goals, he will create a customized treatment plan. While a facelift can yield beautiful results on its own, this treatment can also be combined with other cosmetic enhancement options, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic, facial fat injections (described in the section below), eyelid surgery, or other facial plastic surgery options, for a more comprehensive makeover.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Facelift Surgery?

Good candidates for facelift surgery typically include women or men who are experiencing significant signs of inelastic skin along the middle to lower facial areas and the neck. Patients should be in relatively good overall health before undergoing this procedure, and should not smoke for a minimum of six weeks before surgery, with a plan in place to avoid restarting the habit following the procedure. There is no specific age range that is considered “best” for undergoing a facelift. Whether this procedure is right for your needs depends on the condition of your skin and the level of aesthetic concerns you are experiencing during your initial evaluation. Once Dr. Okamoto has examined you and talked with you about your needs and goals, he can help you decide whether facelift surgery or an alternative treatment can successfully meet your expectations.

What Are Facial Fat Injections?

While a facelift offers a variety of aesthetic benefits, there are some types of concerns that a facelift cannot resolve on its own. For patients who would like to minimize signs of wrinkles in areas of the face that are not addressed by a facelift alone, as well as for those who would like to add volume and renewed contours to certain facial features, fat injections may be an ideal addition to the overall facelift treatment plan. When people look back to their high school graduation pictures, a fuller face is usually seen. Loss of facial volume is one of the common signs of aging – sometimes it is the most prominent observation for an aging face. Facial fat injections, also referred to as “fat transfer” or “fat grafting,” involve the relocation of fat cells from one region of the patient’s body to areas of the face that have been targeted for rejuvenation. The fat is harvested via liposuction (often in areas such as the abdomen or flanks), processed for the transfer, and then carefully injected into the targeted facial areas. Essentially, this provides patients with a “natural subcutaneous filler,” utilizing their own fat to effectively fill in lines and wrinkles or add volume to the lips, eyelid areas, temples, jawline, or other regions that may benefit from enhanced contouring. Fat injections can not only provide patients with very natural-looking results, but they are also known to produce outcomes that last much longer than many of today’s more traditional dermal filler options.

During your initial consultation with Dr. Okamoto, he can talk with you about facial fat injections and help you determine whether this technique can serve as an ideal option to include in your facelift treatment plan.

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What Does the Facelift Procedure Involve?

A facelift tightens the facial skin. As this is accomplished, skin wrinkles diminish, depressed contours smoothen, fat is redistributed, and other signs of an aging face are replaced with a natural and fresher look. A typical facelift incision starts in the hairline above the ear, follows the curvatures in the front and backside of the ear, and ends in the hairline behind the ear. An additional incision under the chin is often necessary. These incisions provide access to lift the facial and neck skin away from its floor. The next step is to tighten the deeper structures under the skin, the so-called SMAS layer, which advances the overlying skin backwards and upwards. The overlapping excess facial and neck skin advancing over the originally made incisions is carefully excised and meticulously sutured. Thin, unnoticeable scars are created with a tighter, natural facial appearance. Since every face/neck is different from the next, Dr. Okamoto individualizes each of these steps every time this operation is undertaken. 

Volume restoration is frequently performed as an adjunct procedure with the facelift. For more information about this, please see the Facial Fat Transfer section above. 

What Is a Mid-Facelift?

In some cases of facial aging, more of the problem exists in the cheek zone where it might be more appropriate to consider a mid-facelift. When this approach is taken, the operation is limited to the face itself and does not extend down into the neck. The facial incision starts similarly in the hairline above the ear, but ends at the earlobe or sometimes just around the backside of the earlobe. After the skin is lifted away from the facial floor, a limited SMAS advancement is executed and the resultant overlapping excess facial skin is excised and closed in a similar but lesser amount than a full face/neck lift. This lifts the cheek fat pad, diminishes the nasolabial fold, and smoothens the mid-face skin. During your initial consultation, Dr. Okamoto will discuss whether this is a reasonable option for you when facial rejuvenation is discussed. 

What Can I Expect During Facelift Recovery?

There will be some degree of bruising and swelling after a full facelift procedure; however, these effects will fade as the healing process progresses. Bandages will need to be in place and your head will need to be kept in an elevated position for a few days. Dr. Okamoto will prescribe pain medication to manage discomfort after surgery. You will be advised to refrain from strenuous activities for about two weeks following facelift surgery. Most patients are able to resume work and other daily routines in a few weeks after surgery.

Will There Be Visible Facelift Scars?

Dr. Okamoto is extensively trained and experienced in advanced facelift surgery techniques and will do everything possible to minimize the appearance of scars. Fortunately, this procedure usually involves incisions that are made in fairly inconspicuous places within the hairline, in front of the ear, and behind the ear; therefore, any scarring from those incisions is typically barely noticeable (if noticeable at all) to others.

How Long Does a Facelift Last?

While it is important to understand that, as the natural aging process continues, the facial skin will remain susceptible to developing inelasticity, it is also true that the results of a facelift can last for several years with the proper care. Maintaining a healthy diet, minimizing weight fluctuations, utilizing adequate sun protection, and taking excellent care of your skin can help keep the results of facelift surgery going for a long time to come.

Dr. Okamoto often tells his patients that the benefits of facial rejuvenation surgery usually persist for the rest of a person’s life. This does not mean that the immediate benefits of facelift surgery remain frozen in time, because all faces will show new signs of aging as time passes after the surgery. However, when a rejuvenated appearance has been accomplished, the clock has been seemingly reset backwards for this individual by many years. The aging process starts anew, but from a different set point, and that advantage generally persists into the future. Here is another way of looking at this: Imagine that a facelift were done only on one side of someone’s face. In this hypothetical example, Dr. Okamoto contends that the surgical side will continue to look younger in the decades that follow.

Is a Facelift Without Surgery Possible?

Effective facial rejuvenation without surgery is possible; however, it is very important to note that non-surgical facial enhancement procedures cannot accomplish the same outcomes as facelift surgery. If you have a milder level of wrinkles and other signs of aging along the face, or if you simply do not want to undergo a surgical procedure, you may be a candidate for less invasive options that can help you achieve a more youthful and well-rested appearance. For some individuals, a liquid facelift may be an ideal treatment. This procedure utilizes a number of advanced cosmetic injectables to smooth out wrinkles and enhance volume among facial features. Ultherapy® is another non-surgical facial rejuvenation option at our practice. Using state-of-the-art ultrasound technology, this treatment can be very effective at tightening and firming the skin of the face and neck for patients with mild to moderate aesthetic concerns. Laser skin resurfacing may also be appropriate for patients who would like to address signs of facial aging without the need for surgery.

While these alternative treatments will not provide outcomes that last as long or yield results that are as significant as those which can be achieved with facelift surgery, they can be very good options for the right candidate. Dr. Okamoto will talk with you about your needs and goals during the consultation and help you determine the options that can best meet your expectations.

How to Choose the Best Facelift Surgeon for You

Finding the facelift surgeon who is right for your needs may at first seem like a challenging task, but you can more easily narrow down your choices if you have a few specific tips on what to look for. To maximize the chances that your facelift results will achieve your goals and yield an appearance that looks natural, it is important to research your prospective plastic surgeon’s credentials and inquire about his or her experience. Ensuring that the surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery is a good start. A plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, such as Dr. Okamoto, is a key indication that the doctor has attained the advanced training and skills necessary to perform these types of procedures in the most effective way possible. In addition, it is a good idea to view facelift before-and-after photos that feature some of the prospective surgeon’s previous patients. This can help you visualize the potential outcomes that can be achieved and give you a better understanding of the surgeon’s skills and abilities.

If a particular plastic surgeon looks like a good option for you, then you can schedule a consultation to meet with the doctor and ask some direct questions. This initial meeting allows you to evaluate your level of confidence in the surgeon’s experience, abilities, and overall approach to care. You are about to embark on an exciting new journey, and you’ll want to make sure that you fully trust that your surgeon will be able to achieve your goals while prioritizing safety, attention to detail, thoroughness, and compassion.

Here are a few suggestions for questions to ask your prospective plastic surgeon either before or during the consultation:

  • How many times have you performed facelift procedures?
  • Can you explain the specific technique you will utilize?
  • Will the facelift surgery be customized for my unique needs and goals?
  • What are the risks of facelift surgery, and the precautions you take to decrease those risks?
  • What can I expect during each phase of facelift treatment, from the pre-operative preparation process through the recovery period?
  • May I take a look at some of your facelift before-and-after photos?

These inquiries are just a starting point; you should not feel limited in any way when it comes to asking any questions that are on your mind. You can find additional ideas for questions to ask and more information on choosing the best plastic surgeon here.

What Procedures Can Complement Facelift Surgery?

There are a number of treatments that can be performed in addition to facelift surgery to help you achieve a thoroughly comprehensive facial rejuvenation. In terms of other facial plastic surgery options, a treatment such as eyelid surgery may be of benefit. This procedure focuses on improving signs of age and exhaustion around the eyes, ultimately helping to smooth out the skin and provide a more refreshed appearance. Browlift surgery is another option that addresses the upper face. This treatment targets common concerns such as descended brows, furrows between the brows, and creases along the forehead. Non-surgical treatments such as injectable dermal fillers, BOTOX® Cosmetic, and other skin enhancement options can also serve as effective complements to facelift surgery. Our plastic surgeon will be happy to answer any questions you may have about procedures that can be included in your customized treatment plan to provide additional enhancement.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Facelift Surgery

Does a facelift always include a neck lift?

Dr. Okamoto typically includes some degree of neck lifting with his facelift procedures to address excess, inelastic skin in the upper neck area and under the chin. However, not all patients may require neck rejuvenation with a facelift. Once you have been evaluated during the initial consultation with Dr. Okamoto, he will talk with you about your goals and expectations and determine whether a neck lifting component will be ideal as part of your facelift procedure.

How long before I can exercise again after facelift surgery?

Dr. Okamoto will provide precise post-operative instructions based on each individual’s unique needs, which will include recommendations on how long to avoid strenuous exercise after surgery. In general, it is typically advised that patients refrain from strenuous workouts for about three weeks; however, the exact length of time will depend on how long the treatment areas take to fully heal and the degree of swelling present.

Is a facelift different for men versus women?

The primary aesthetic goal of facelift surgery—to achieve a more youthful appearance—is generally the same regardless of a patient’s gender; however, the surgical approach is slightly different. This is due to basic differences in facial anatomy between women and men, as well as certain distinctions in terms of the expected results among patients of different genders. Specific locations for the facelift incisions may also be different for men depending on whether they have receding hairlines. Dr. Okamoto always strives to place facelift incisions in the most inconspicuous areas possible so that residual scarring will be virtually unnoticeable to others.

Are there age limits for facelift surgery?

Technically speaking, there is virtually no upper age limit for facelift surgery. While the procedure is most often performed in patients in their 40s through 70s, individuals both younger and older than this range have undergone facelift surgery. When determining candidacy for a facelift, the age of the patient is typically not as important as current health status, medical history, and whether facelift surgery is the most ideal option for their needs and goals.

How can I reduce swelling after facelift surgery?

The most severe and noticeable degree of swelling following facelift surgery should dissipate by the sixth week—and usually by the second to third week; however, a mild degree of swelling will likely be present for several months. Dr. Okamoto’s post-operative instructions will contain guidance on how to appropriately manage swelling and ensure a smooth and effective healing process. A few extra steps can also help control swelling during recovery. These include: keeping your head in an elevated position as much as possible while recovering; eating foods that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and proteins (such as leafy greens & fruits and vegetables); and avoidance of foods and beverages that are high in salt.

How many years younger will I look after a facelift?

There isn’t a specific age or a set amount of years that a facelift can make you look; however the surgical procedure is designed with the goal of providing you a more youthful and vibrant appearance. By reversing some of the signs of the natural aging process, such as tightening loose skin and wrinkles, your face can come away from the surgical procedure looking generally as if you are many years younger.

Will my face appear “pulled,” “stretched,” or “tight” after facelift surgery?

Immediately following your surgery, there will be some swelling that should dissipate over time and gradually reveal your new look. These results that will appear down the road are intended to look as natural and subtle as possible. Once the swelling has subsided, the final results can be realized.

How should I sleep after a facelift?

To avoid any issues following your treatment, you should sleep on your back with your head elevated. Patients can add unnecessary pressure on their face if they sleep on their stomach or side instead of their back. Adding pressure can cause setbacks to the delicate work that has been completed by Dr. Okamoto.

How long does it take to look “normal” after facelift surgery?

Following your facelift procedure, there will be a recovery period when the benefits of your treatment will slowly begin to show. Typically, your results will reach their desired appearance at about three to six months. While patients have to wait several months for their ideal look, the end results generally do not require further surgery and can last for years to come.

Is a facelift painful?

Facelift surgery, as with any surgical procedure, will likely incur some pain and discomfort in your recovery process, but it is often surprisingly less than what is anticipated. Prescribed medication and pain management techniques can typically help with  any discomfort.

Dr. Eric Okamoto looks forward to answering all of your questions regarding facelift and facial rejuvenation procedures. Please contact us today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.

*Individual results may vary