As with any major surgical procedure, facelift surgery does carry some risk for complications. The facelift is generally regarded as the gold standard in plastic surgery for anti-aging, due to its effective and customizable nature. That said, it is one of the most invasive elective procedures available, and does require a certain amount of recovery time. So how do you prevent potential complications and help ensure that you get a good outcome? Let’s take a look at some of the potential problems that can occur and what you can do to help prevent these kinds of complications.
Bleeding in plastic surgery is usually very controlled, but some factors increase the risk of excessive bleeding in facelift surgery. This is why patients need to be honest about the medications they are taking, as some medicines increase the risk for bleeding.
Hematoma is a collection of blood beneath the skin. Hematomas are among the more common facelift complications, and must be drained by a surgeon. To help prevent hematoma, drains are sometimes placed for the first few days after the facelift.
Infection, though rare, is a risk for any surgical procedure. The infected area is often red and hot to the touch, and a fever may occur, as the body attempts to fight the infection. Infections should be reported right away and treated with antibiotics.
Most healthy people do just fine under general anesthesia, but there are small risks for reactions. Speaking to your surgeon will help determine whether it is safe for you to be “put under.”
Numbness is a normal, temporary side effect of facelift, and can take months to fade. Very occasionally, nerves can receive permanent injury, however, and never recover fully.
Poor health or unsatisfactory aftercare can impact healing in a major way. Poor healing can include skin flap necrosis, scarring, and/or poor aesthetic results. This is why the results of facelift surgery are quite reliant on the patient as well as the surgeon. The best way to prevent poor healing is to practice impeccable aftercare and avoid smoking, drinking, and prohibited medications. Smoking in particular is harmful to the healing process, and patients need to quit months or weeks before the surgery for safety and results.
Facelift scars are typically hidden in the hairline, but there is always a small risk for excessive scarring. This is usually in patients who are prone to raised scars, which may require treatment after healing is complete. Hair loss is very rare, and usually temporary, localized around the incision site and caused by shock to the hair follicles.
There are some complications that can occur with facelift surgery which are not related to safety, but rather the aesthetic results of the operation. Naturally, this is almost as bad as a safety issue, as the goals of facelift are purely aesthetic. Issues may include scarring, excessive skin tightness, and misplacement of brows. Other issues are simply disappointment relating to a disparity between expectations and reality. The best way to combat this is to keep your expectations realistic and get an idea of what kind of improvement may be possible before surgery. 3D imaging, before-and-after photos, and open communication are excellent tools for managing expectations. Otherwise, the best way to avoid aesthetic complications is simply to choose a skilled, experienced surgeon.
You will only be able to undergo facelift surgery if your surgeon thinks it is safe for you. Your overall health will be assessed, and you will need to disclose any medication you’re taking. Certain habits and medications can increase the risks from plastic surgery, and may make you ineligible, or at least put you at a higher risk for complications.
Listen to Your Surgeon
Above all, the best way to help yourself have a successful surgery is to follow the care instructions provided by your surgeon. While some of the pre- and post-operative instructions may seem silly and inconvenient, these instructions exist for a reason—to maximize your chances for a safe and successful surgery. So take your instructions seriously and do everything you can to promote a quick and easy recovery period for best results. Always be honest, even if you are embarrassed by something.
The Good News: Overall Safety
Despite the number of potential complications that can occur, the truth is that most modern plastic surgery procedures are generally very safe when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. But how do you know if a surgeon is qualified? First off, look for a surgeon who is board certified and specializes in facial plastic surgery. That is a great place to start when choosing prospective surgeons. Once you’ve found some candidates in your area, it’s time to schedule consultations to discuss your candidacy and your individual procedure. Don’t be tempted to use this time to learn about the procedure itself—do that beforehand, and come to consultations with questions specific to you and your needs.
If you’re looking for potential surgeons in Austin and surrounding areas, come to Buckingham Center and meet with acclaimed, board certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham. Dr. Buckingham emphasizes safety and beautiful, natural results for patients, and can help you plan your ideal procedure. Call 512-401-2500 to schedule your consultation.