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Many of us in our late 40’s and 50’s have thought about facelift surgery as a way to keep looking as young as we feel. But surgery is a big decision, and it can come with lots of questions about the procedure, the recovery process, and whether it’s all worth it.

For those curious about going the surgical route, I spoke with Dr. Jerold Olson, a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery in Tucson AZ, about what it’s really like to undergo a facelift.  Check out what he had to share.
Q: How long does the procedure take, and how long will a patient be under anesthesia?

A: The time required for a facelift varies depending on several factors, including the addition of any
other procedures. On average, the surgery lasts around 4 hours, but that can fluctuate by an hour or two. You’ll be under general anesthesia during this time.

Q: What is recovery like?

A: I typically recommend patients take 7 to 10 days to rest. Any discomfort over the first few days is
managed with medication. During the first couple of weeks, you may notice bruising and swelling. By the time you feel ready to return to daily activities like work, you’ll likely be able to cover any remaining bruising with makeup. Your incisions will fade to pale, flat scars that will become even less visible over time.

Q: Are there any limitations following surgery such as sun, beauty product use, or exercise?

A: You should avoid exercise for a few weeks and follow the guidelines I give you at your follow-up
appointments when it comes to easing back in. I typically recommend avoiding sun exposure for a few
weeks after surgery, since UV damage can worsen symptoms like swelling and slow down the healing
process. You can resume putting on makeup and washing your hair after 3 weeks.

Q: Can you just do a partial facelift?  If so, what are the different options?

A: Each facelift is customized to meet that patient’s needs, but there are a few categories they fall into. A partial facelift is commonly called a mini facelift, and it’s essentially another name for a short scar lift.  Younger men and women with less severe sagging often opt for this method, which requires only a small incision near the ear rather than a longer one that extends up into the hairline. The best way to determine the right approach for you is to meet with your surgeon for a one-on-one consultation. During this appointment, they’ll be able to make personalized recommendations based on your specific features and concerns.  If you would like to see real examples of each approach, please take a look at the before-and-after facelift photos of my Tucson patients.

Q: Are there nonsurgical alternatives?

A: Nonsurgical anti-aging treatments like BOTOX® Cosmetic and dermal fillers are highly popular since they require no anesthesia and essentially no downtime. While they can have great effects, they only provide short-term solutions. BOTOX lasts about 3 to 5 months and certain fillers can last for up to two years, but facelift results last around a decade. Many patients try nonsurgical options initially and then opt for a facelift to achieve longer-lasting results.

Q: Does it leave the face feeling tight or strange?

A: While there will be an initial adjustment period during recovery, a properly done facelift shouldn’t
leave your skin feeling tight. Any lingering numbness should continue to resolve over a few months.

Q: Will the neck look different?

A: With a short scar facelift, your neck is unlikely to look different. A deep plane facelift allows the
surgeon to adjust neck skin and tissues to create a younger appearance.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: The cost of a facelift varies greatly, depending on the approach, whether any procedures are added and your geographic region. The average cost tends to be around $12,000. However, meeting with your surgeon for a personal consultation is the best way to get precise, personalized pricing information.  Credit organizations that specifically cater to medical expenses are often helpful for patients looking to feel more confident through cosmetic surgery.


Would you ever consider a facelift? Leave your thoughts in the comments! For more health-related
content, check out my previous post on my hormone replacement therapy experience.



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