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How can I maximize my Facelift results?

As we age, we will lose volume and elasticity of our face, which will lead to sagging of tissue.  As we live longer and extend our working years, we want to look younger too. This is driving the boom in minimally invasive treatments to rejuvenate the face because most people are nervous about undergoing the knife to get a facelift. Fillers and energy based devices are by far the most popular alternative treatments today, even here in San Antonio and Austin. But many patients are also discovering that these may not deliver the results wanted. In addition, the results last about a year, and these treatments become very expensive if you repeat treatments every year.  Thus, we’re seeing patients in San Antonio and Austin choose facelifts because the results are more reliable and can last up to ten years. So if you’ve decided to get a facelift, how can you make sure you get the best results and minimize any complications?

Before you can get surgery, you must have realistic expectations of what a facelift can achieve. Why are you having the surgery? This is so crucial because this needs to be your decision. You shouldn’t get it if your spouse doesn’t like the way you look and want you to look younger. Trying to save a relationship is not a good reason either. If you are trying to remain competitive in the work force, a facelift can be a good option. But if believe a facelift will land you a specific modeling role, leadership position, or any detailed job, then you should reconsider. Assuming you have reasonable goals and expectations, the next step is to make sure you are in good health.

Remember, a facelift is a completely elective surgery. It is a great treatment that can have a tremendous positive impact on your mental and emotional state. But you have to be in good health. This is not cancer surgery where your life depends on this surgery. Since it is completely elective, you must be in good health to minimize any complications. Your heart and blood pressure must be in good state. If you have cardiac problems, no surgeon is going to offer you a facelift because it won’t do you any good if you suffer major heart problems during or after surgery. So your blood pressure must be controlled. You can’t have any heart rhythm problems.  Your heart must be strong and not have any diminished blood flow. Your lungs need to be healthy too. So if you have bad chronic lung disease, you should not get this surgery.  Diabetes is another condition that must be well controlled. You can get a facelift if you have diabetes, but your diabetes must be controlled. If your sugars are not controlled, you have a higher chance of postoperative infections.  Finally, it’s important you don’t have any active medical problems that may complicate surgery and your recovery. For example, if you have active autoimmune problems (ie lupus, scleroderma, etc), these may adversely affect your outcomes.

Smoking has a bad effect on healing. Nicotine damages the blood vessels to your skin. So while the surgery may go smoothly and everything looks great immediately, you will have a high risk of skin necrosis—where parts of the skin die due to poor blood flow. There are different opinions on how long you must stop before a facelift can be performed. Obviously, the longer you can stop smoking before surgery the better your results. I insist at least two months of smoking cessation. Even then, I stress to patients they have a higher risk of healing problems than someone else. Don’t forget you also need to stop smoking AFTER surgery. Again, there are no firm rules, but at least 4-6 weeks.

In addition to being in good health and not smoking, you must also avoid certain medications two weeks before and two weeks after surgery to minimize bleeding complications. I will give patients a comprehensive list at their preoperative visit, but the common culprits are as follow. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (ie Motrin, Advil, Naprosyn) should be stopped. Aspirin is also another blood thinner that must be stopped. If you have a problem that requires stronger blood thinning agents (ie Warfarin, Plavix), then you need to be cleared by your cardiologist or internist before considering surgery. As part of this process, I will ask their input on how to taper off your blood thinner(s). Other things that will make you bleed more include Vitamin E, fish oil, garlic supplements, etc. These also need to be stopped two weeks before surgery.

Finally, you should avoid any strenuous activity for at least two weeks after surgery. Examples include running, lifting weights, walking several blocks, gardening, golfing, swimming, etc. You might feel pretty good before two weeks, but there is a low risk these activities will make you bleed suddenly due to elevated blood pressures. After two weeks, you can slowly ease into your prior exercise regimen.  Another important thing to maximize your results is your weight. If you are actively losing weight, then it’s not a good idea to get facelift before you reach your target weight. This has nothing to do with safety; rather, this ensures your results last as expected. If you are actively losing weight when you get a facelift, then your nice results will soon look worse again. The reason is the as the fat goes away, your facial musculature and skin support is lost.

A successful facelift will rejuvenate your face with a natural appearance. Typical compliments usually address how “good” and relaxed you look. The results should last 8 to 10 years. You’ve made a big investment in both cost and healing—you should do everything you can to ensure your results are as good as they can be and last as long as possible.

For more information about San Antonio facelift surgery, please visit our interactive website at Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868 or