As we age, the skin gradually loses its elasticity and our facial muscles lose their tone. This process can be accelerated by too much exposure to the sun, weight loss or a stressful life. Lines develop from our nose to the corners of our mouth, around our eyes and lips and on our forehead. In addition, the skin on our neck becomes loose and our jawline loses definition.

Who are the best candidates for surgery?

Facelifts work best on patients who still have a degree of elasticity in their skin, although their skin has started to droop. Typically patients are aged from 40 to 60 years although the procedure can be successfully performed on patients in their 80s. Facelifts have better results on the lower half of the face. If you are troubled by lines on your forehead then a brow lift may be more appropriate for you. If your lines are fine rather than deep, a chemical peel or laser treatment may be more appropriate. Note that if you are intending to lose weight or are on a diet, you should wait to have the facelift until after you have completed your weight loss programme. This is because the surgeon will be able to remove more loose skin from your face to give a more pleasing result.

facelift before and after photo
Facelift before and after surgery

What happens during the facelift operation?

You will usually receive a general anaesthetic although the operation is possible with a local anaesthetic combined with sedation. The operation can be combined with other facial surgery such as a brow lift or eyelid reduction / eye bag removal.

There are different types of facelifts dependent upon what is required, including:

  • The full facelift - the surgeon cuts around your hairline, in front of your ear and sometimes under the chin. The skin is lifted up off the facial muscles, pulled back, excess skin and fat removed and then the skin is reattached.
  • A facelift performed using keyhole surgery techniques, where only tiny incisions need to be made. This avoids the tradition "ear to ear" incision.
  • The minimal access cranium suspension, known as "MACS". This technique also gives rise to reduced scarring and a quicker recovery period.


The scars can generally be hidden under your hair and will fade over the course of the first year.

After Surgery

After the surgery you will be bruised and swollen. The surgeon will normally wrap your head in bandages to help reduce swelling. You should also keep your head elevated. You may have drainage tubes inserted. The bandages normally stay in place for the first two days and stitches are removed after a week. You may experience some numbness in the face but this is usually temporary.

The Risks

Risks include the general risk from having a general anaesthetic including deep vein thrombosis and chest infections, especially in smokers. Other risks specific to this operation include:

  • Post surgical infection
  • Haematoma
  • Permanent injury to facial nerves
  • Excessive bleeding

The Outlook

Once you have completed your recovery, you can expect to look ten years younger after this operation. Whilst you will continue to age, you will most likely never look as old as you would have done without the surgery.