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As we age, our facial skin looses its elasticity, skin tone decreases and the effects of gravity result in the development of skin folds and creases. The cheeks droop and loose volume, folds develop beside the nose and the upper lip, jowls appear along the jaw line and the skin of the neck becomes lax.  Some of these age related facial changes can be improved by non-surgical techniques like laser therapy, facial fillers and Botox.  However, if there is any significant skin laxity or contour asymmetry, surgery will be necessary.

The aim

The benefits of a face lift are largely to achieve a tighter, more youthful appearance and make the skin of the neck and lower half of the face firmer, tighter and smoother.  The central area around the mouth and nose also benefits, but to a lesser degree.  Sagging or drooping skin around the eyes and brow may be more effectively treated with an endoscopic brow lift (see blepharoplasty).

Optimally, a face lift will produce a natural, fresher, more youthful appearance, without obvious signs that surgery has taken place.

The operation

New ‘’minimal access’’ techniques have been developed to correct the earliest effects of ageing.  Surgical threads can be inserted through small cuts behind the temporal hairline to pull up and elevate the cheeks and improve the contour of the jaw-line.

More traditional techniques involving an incision from the front of the ear, round to the back and into the hairline are used to achieve a more marked elevation of cheek and neck skin.

These procedures can be carried out in combination with facial liposuction, fat injections, surgery to the eyes and brow.

Thread lifts take about an hour and a half and can be performed as day case operations under local anaesthetic with sedation.  Traditional face lift operations take between four and six hours under general anaesthetic and may require up to three nights in hospital.


It is important that the risk of bleeding after the operation be kept to the minimum possible.  Mr Watts will ask you to avoid Aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Voltarol or Ibuprofen for four weeks before surgery.  You need to be careful as many cold and cough cures sold by pharmacists may contain these drugs.  You should also let Mr Watts know if you are taking any homeopathic or Chinese medicines, as these can also affect post operative bleeding.  Smoking is not advised before facial cosmetic surgery and you should make every attempt to stop at least four weeks before surgery to minimise the risk of wound healing problems.


After the operation your face and neck will be swollen and bruised.  This will take about four to six weeks to settle.  You will have reduced sensation over your cheeks and possibly also your ears.  You will be able to wash your hair after about four days and wear make-up after about 10 days.  The sutures will be removed from around your ears after approximately one week, but it may take up to six months for the scars to settle and soften.

Common risks

Minor wound infections may occur along with thickened scarring around the ear.  There may be some temporary loss of sensation over the cheeks and the neck and some transient weakness of the facial muscles.  There may be some puckering of the cheek skin and occasionally some asymmetry in the appearance of the cheeks.

More rarely there may be wound healing problems requiring prolonged dressings, bleeding, and more extensive infections.

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