A lower facelift is a surgical procedure that restores a more naturally youthful appearance by rejuvenating the lower third of the face.
It lifts and tightens the underlying facial structures that slacken with age and removes excess loose skin, to eliminate jowls, better define the jawline, and help smooth deep wrinkles. A lower facelift also addresses the area under the chin. (On the other hand, an upper facelift, or brow lift, focuses on everything above your eyes, including your brow line and the forehead area.)
Compared to a full facelift (rhytidectomy), a lower facelift is less invasive, with smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time of about a week—significantly shorter than the two weeks of recovery time typically needed after a traditional facelift.
Lower facelift may not address the neck as fully as a typical neck lift (aka platysmaplasty), which lifts and smoothes sagging neck skin, removes excess fat, and tightens the platysma muscle to eliminate issues like a double chin, horizontal banding, wrinkling, and “turkey neck” or “turkey wattle,” to give your entire neck and jawline a more youthful appearance. A lower facelift and neck lift are frequently combined, to achieve the best results.
For more complete facial rejuvenation, the procedure may also be combined with additional cosmetic procedures, such as eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, laser skin resurfacing, dermal fillers, or a facial fat transfer (using fat harvested from other body areas via liposuction).
People in their late 40s and 50s who are beginning to see sagging around their mouth and jaw from the natural aging process may be good candidates for this procedure.
. A lower facelift rejuvenates the bottom third of the face, while contouring the jawline and neck.
. This surgical procedure is less invasive than a full facelift, so you'd have shorter incisions and less scarring.
. Recovery time also tends to be shorter—typically just a week of downtime (though some patients need two).
. Results can last up to 10 years, and even as you continue to age, you'll always look younger than if you hadn't had the procedure.
. As you heal, you can expect some swelling for up to 3 months and numbness in the treated areas for 6 months or longer.
. A lower facelift doesn't usually lift the cheeks, midface, or brow. If your concerns extend to those areas, you may need to consider a full facelift and/or brow lift.
. It also doesn't address textural issues or uneven pigmentation from sun damage, though it can be combined with skin rejuvenation procedures to improve skin tone and texture.
. While the procedure can turn back the clock, your face and neck will continue to age, and you may opt for another procedure after about 10 years.
A lower facelift often can't eliminate marionette lines, the creases that run vertically between the mouth and the chin, without creating a distortion of the corners of the mouth or some other unnatural effect.
Most people don't experience complications from this procedure, but like all surgery, it's not without risks. The most common side effects are hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that needs to be drained with a syringe), infection, and mild bleeding at the incision sites.
You may have some numbness in the lower face and neck for about six months after your procedure, as the nerves repair themselves. It's also possible to have facial nerve injury that causes muscle weakness and palsy, but the chance is extremely low, and it’s not usually permanent.
A lower facelift procedure takes 2 to 4 hours, but it may take longer if it's being combined with other cosmetic procedures.
First, you’ll be given general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, so you’ll either be fully asleep or drowsy and relaxed.
Your plastic surgeon will make small incisions near the front of the ears, extending from the earlobes to the hairline. Another short incision just under the chin may be necessary to tighten an aging neck. The length of the incisions and their exact locations will depend on your doctor's surgical technique, your facial anatomy, and the procedure's goals.
Your surgeon will then lift the skin and underlying tissue that has descended over time. They may also remove excess fat and lift the underlying facial muscles, also called the superficial muscular aponeurotic system, for a SMAS facelift that produces longer-lasting results. This reduces the appearance of the nasolabial folds and marionette lines.
Your surgeon will suture the tissues into their lifted position, trimming any excess skin to eliminate sagging and improve your jawline definition.
Lower facelift surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you’ll return home the same day with aftercare instructions.
You’ll be groggy from the anesthesia, so make sure you have someone there to take you home and stay with you overnight.
Your surgeon will monitor your recovery at follow-up appointments starting the day after your surgery. Recovery has different phases after a lower facelift, starting at the first week where sutures and staples are present and you look procedural.
During this period, you might have some discomfort, redness, sensitivity, bruising, and swelling. Your plastic surgeon may ask you to use light ice compresses to reduce swelling.
Most people hide out at home for one or even two weeks post-op. By four weeks, most people can function socially without anyone noticing anything other than the fact that you look perhaps 10 years younger.
Many surgeons will use rapidly dissolving sutures that don't need to be removed. If regular sutures are used, they're generally removed in about a week.
Mild exercise can be resumed after two weeks, but heavier exercise isn't usually allowed until about a month post-op.
It's common to experience a tightening sensation as your skin adjusts to the changes, as well as a temporary loss of sensation around the incisions. Firmness and swelling in the neck to the touch can last 2–3 months. Numbness of the neck and lateral face typically lasts 6 months or more.
Patients report seeing results within a week, as soon as the swelling starts to go down. However, while much of the swelling goes away within two weeks, it can take six months to a full year to subside completely.
The changes you see will be more dramatic during the first six months, but you'll see subtle improvement over a full year.
Lower facelift results tend to last 8 to 10 years, but your age, lifestyle choices, bone structure, skin type, sun exposure, and heredity all play a role in how long your results will last.
Younger patients tend to enjoy longer-lasting results, so if you're in your 40s, the effects may last beyond 10 years.
Additional procedures, such as Botox, dermal fillers, and laser resurfacing or chemical peels can significantly improve your results and help to maintain them over time.