What is a facelift?

A facelift is an operation to tighten and lift the soft tissues of your face and neck.

Is a facelift suitable for me?

As you get older, gravity pulls down on your skin and soft tissues of your face. You are most likely to benefit from a facelift if you have deeper folds in your skin on the sides of your nose and mouth, your cheeks have begun to sag or you have a double chin.

Your surgeon will carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if surgery is suitable for you.

What are the benefits of surgery?

If the operation is successful, your face should look younger.

Are there any alternatives to a facelift?

Resurfacing or injecting Botox can smooth out fine wrinkles. Deeper wrinkles can sometimes be filled out using implants. Fat grafting involves injecting fat from other areas of your body into your face to make your face look more full.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes two to three hours.

SMAS facelift – Your surgeon will make a cut on both sides of your face in the hairline around your ears. They will cut under the deeper layer of tough tissue (SMAS layer), lifting and tightening it. Your surgeon will then tighten your skin upwards towards your ears and remove any excess skin (see figure 1).

MACS facelift –Your surgeon will tighten the SMAS layer with suspension stitches to avoid cutting underneath it. This involves less surgery but the results may not last as long.

Other types of facelift – These include the mid-facelift and composite facelift and involve lifting deeper layers of the face.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Minor infection
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications

  • Loss of skin or hair
  • Developing a collection of blood under the skin
  • Developing pale or dark areas on your face
  • Hair loss
  • Damage to the facial nerve
  • Cosmetic problems

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after.

You should be able to return to work after two weeks, depending on your type of work.

Do not have sex or bend down for two weeks.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

The results of a facelift last for a long time. Your face will still continue to age but should always appear younger than if you had not had surgery.


A facelift is an operation to make your face appear younger. You should consider the options carefully and have realistic expectations about the results.


Author: Mr Eoin O'Broin MD FRCS (Plast.)

Illustrations: Mr Eoin O'Broin MD FRCS (Plast.)


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give

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