Face Lift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)

This article was updated on March 1st, 2024 at 08:19 pm

The face is the most attention-grabbing and expressive part of the human body. However, the effects of time, gravity, and environmental factors can lead to sagging and wrinkles on the face. In this case, many people start researching facelift procedures.

Facelift procedures are generally divided into two parts: surgical facelifts and non-surgical facelifts.

However, each step of this process brings up important questions. In which season should the facelift surgery be done? Does it provide a natural look? Does it change the smile or facial expression? And most importantly, is this procedure safe and worth it?

The answers to these questions will be thoroughly examined in our article, providing a guiding manual during and after the facelift surgery process.

Anatomy of the Face

The human face is composed of many interconnected parts. Bones give shape to our faces, and muscles control our expressions. Nerves and vessels enable us to feel and move. Skin and the underlying fat determine our appearance.

Parts like the eyes, nose, and mouth help us use our senses. These parts work together to make our faces highly expressive and functional.

Facial Sagging

Facial sagging occurs as a result of the skin and facial muscles losing their elasticity over time. This condition usually arises due to aging, decreased skin elasticity, the effects of gravity, and sometimes lifestyle factors (for example, excessive sun exposure, and smoking).

Facial sagging manifests itself with symptoms such as loosening in the jawline and cheeks, deepening of the lines between the nose and mouth, and drooping eyebrows.

Facial sagging is generally associated with aging and is a difficult condition to completely reverse. However, topical products such as anti-aging creams and moisturizers, healthy lifestyle habits, and some medical or surgical treatments can improve the appearance of the skin.

Face-lift Overview:

A face-lift surgery, medically known as “rhytidectomy” is an aesthetic operation aimed at tightening saggy and wrinkled facial and neck skin due to the effects of aging. This operation is preferred to correct wrinkles, sagging, and loss of elasticity in the face and neck that develop over time.

Facelift surgery is particularly effective for individuals in their 40s and 50s but can also be performed at younger ages depending on skin structure and overall health. The effects of this surgery vary depending on the individual’s skin type, lifestyle, and genetic factors and usually last for 10-15 years.

Patients generally appear 10 to 15 years younger after the surgery. The duration of the surgery varies depending on the case but generally lasts between 2 and 5 hours.

During facelift surgery, patients usually do not feel pain as they are under anesthesia. However, some patients may experience mild to moderate pain and discomfort after the surgery.

Such surgeries are typically performed by plastic surgeons or facial plastic surgery specialists.

DefinitionA face-lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to correct sagging, tighten underlying muscles and connective tissues, and remove excess skin. This surgery reduces the signs of aging on the face.
Application AreasIt’s mainly used to address sagging and wrinkles in the cheeks, under the chin, and on the neck.
DurationA face-lift typically lasts between 2 and 5 hours, but this can vary based on the complexity of the procedure.
AnesthesiaIt’s generally performed under general anesthesia, but in some cases, local anesthesia and sedation might be used.
Recovery TimeThe recovery period varies from person to person, but most patients can return to daily activities within 2-4 weeks.
ResultsThe results of a face-lift are usually long-lasting, but the natural aging process will continue in the skin over time. Proper skincare and healthy lifestyle habits can help maintain results for extended periods.
CostThe cost of the surgery can vary based on geographic location, the expertise of the surgeon, the needs of the patient, and the method used.
Alternatives Instead of a face-lift, some people prefer less invasive cosmetic procedures like fillers, botox, laser treatments, or dermabrasion.

Face lift Surgery Techniques

There are different techniques for facelift surgery. These techniques include;

Classic Facelift

The classic facelift is a cosmetic surgical procedure aimed at tightening and reshaping the skin and underlying tissues. It is especially used to reduce sagging and wrinkles in the face and neck areas. The classic facelift is generally a more comprehensive lifting procedure, covering the upper, middle, and lower parts of the face.

Endoscopic Facelift

The endoscopic facelift uses smaller incisions compared to traditional facelift procedures. In this technique, the surgeon uses an endoscope (a thin tube with a camera system) to view and work on the tissues under the skin. 

This method is preferred for correcting looseness and wrinkles, particularly in the forehead, eyebrow, and mid-face areas.

The endoscopic facelift, in addition to having advantages such as faster healing times and less scarring, is also effective in providing a more natural appearance. This technique is a preferred method for mild signs of aging.

Deep Plane Facelift

A deep plane facelift is a more comprehensive cosmetic surgical procedure compared to traditional facelift methods. This method includes not only the skin but also the muscles and connective tissues under the face.

In a deep plane facelift, the surgeon tightens the tissues beneath the superficial layer of skin, resulting in longer-lasting and more natural-looking outcomes. This technique particularly reduces more pronounced signs of aging in the face and neck regions and aims to provide a youthful appearance without affecting facial expressions.

The deep plane facelift is generally recommended for individuals with more advanced signs of aging and may require a longer recovery period.

Mid-Face Lift

A mid-face lift is a specialized cosmetic surgical procedure focused on the middle portion of the face, especially the cheeks and under-eye areas. This method aims to correct sagging in the cheeks and achieve a younger look.

During the mid-face lift procedure, the surgeon lifts and repositions the skin and underlying tissues, which results in fuller and younger-looking cheeks. It also positively affects the under-eye hollows and nasolabial folds (lines along the sides of the nose).

Mini Facelift

A mini facelift is a cosmetic surgical procedure applied to individuals with milder signs of aging. This method uses smaller incisions compared to traditional facelifts and generally focuses on the lower part of the face, particularly the jawline and neck.

The mini facelift tightens sagging skin and provides a more natural rejuvenation effect. The procedure has advantages such as a shorter recovery time and less scarring, making it ideal for mild to moderate sagging and wrinkles.

This surgery is suitable for individuals who want to make minor corrections in specific areas rather than extensively reshape the entire face.

Full Facelift

A full facelift surgery is an extensive cosmetic surgical procedure that encompasses the entire face and sometimes the neck as well. During a full facelift, the surgeon typically works on the upper, middle, and lower parts of the face, tightening the skin and underlying tissues and removing excess skin.

It covers a broader area compared to traditional facelift surgeries and is usually applied to individuals who exhibit more pronounced signs of aging. It requires a longer recovery period.

face lift

Preparation for Facelift Surgery

After a detailed discussion with your surgeon, it’s crucial to provide information about your health history, expectations, any allergies you may have, or medications you are taking. This information is vital for the success of the surgery and the subsequent healing process.

Your surgeon may require some health tests to assess your suitability for the surgery, which typically include blood tests and sometimes involve cardiologic evaluations.

Additionally, you may need to stop taking certain medications and herbal supplements that could increase the risk of bleeding before the surgery.

Since smoking and alcohol consumption can negatively affect the healing process, it’s important to quit these habits at least several weeks before the surgery.

Healthy eating and adequate water intake also help prepare your body for the surgery. Resting your body and avoiding stress a few days before the surgery can positively contribute to the recovery process.

How is a face-lift surgery performed?

Here are the basic steps of a face-lift surgery:

  • Anesthesia: Rhytidectomy is usually performed under general anesthesia, but sometimes local anesthesia and sedation can also be used.
  • Incision Sites: Depending on the surgeon’s preference, the patient’s needs, and the scope of the surgery, the incision sites are determined. Typically, the incision starts at the hairline, descends in front of the ear, and continues into the hair-bearing skin behind the ear. If sagging in the neck is also being addressed, a small incision may be made under the neck.
  • Tightening the Skin: Once the incision is made, the skin is separated from the facial muscles. The surgeon may tighten the underlying muscles and connective tissue. Excess skin is removed, and the remaining skin is stretched and placed over the incision site.
  • Stitches: The surgeon closes the incision with sutures or skin adhesives. The stitches or clips generally conceal the scar along the hairline and natural face contours.
  • Recovery: The area is wrapped with bandages or dressings after the surgery. Swelling, bruising, and mild pain may occur for the first few days. Following the surgeon’s recommendations, such as resting position, applying cold compresses, and using prescribed medications for a certain period, accelerates healing and reduces the risk of complications.
  • Result: The results of the face-lift become more pronounced over time. Surgery scars will fade over time but won’t disappear entirely. Face-lift results are permanent, but as the skin naturally ages, it may show changes over time.

Postoperative Process of Facelift Surgery

Following facelift surgery, significant swelling occurs. This swelling reaches its peak intensity in the first few days after the operation and gradually begins to diminish. Usually, it significantly decreases after the first week and can completely disappear within a few weeks.

Full recovery typically varies from several weeks to a few months. Within the first few weeks, most patients return to their normal activities, but it may take a few months for the full results of the surgery to become apparent.

During this healing process, the care of stitches is also important. Stitches are usually removed 1 week to 10 days after the surgery, but this period can vary depending on the type of stitches used and the individual’s healing speed. Postoperative scars generally fade over time and become less visible, often hidden along the hairline or behind the ears.

Surgeons may recommend a special bandage or corset for the face area to reduce swelling and support healing. This corset is typically worn continuously for the first few days and then for a certain period during the day, depending on your doctor’s advice.

Additionally, your doctor may suggest applying cold compresses to reduce postoperative edema, ensuring adequate hydration, and maintaining certain sleeping positions. Reducing salt intake and maintaining a healthy diet can also be beneficial during this process.

To reduce the risk of infection in the stitched areas, it is generally advisable to avoid contact with water for the first few days after the surgery.

Risks of Facelift Surgery

As with any surgical procedure, facelift surgery carries risks of infection, complications during the healing process, and risks associated with anesthesia. Rarely, issues such as permanent scarring or facial asymmetry may occur. Although the surgery is generally painless under general anesthesia, mild pain or discomfort can be felt during the recovery period.

Additionally, bleeding, bruising, and swelling may occur during the healing process, but these conditions are usually temporary. Nerve damage, though rare, can result in a temporary or permanent loss of sensation or movement in facial muscles.

Scarring may occur as surgical incisions heal, and the visibility of these scars varies from person to person. Post-surgical asymmetry and irregularities in the skin can also occur, but these are generally correctable.

The risks vary depending on factors such as the patient’s overall health, lifestyle, and the surgeon’s experience. Therefore, it is important to undergo a detailed evaluation and consultation process before the surgery and carefully assess the risks.

Who is a suitable candidate for a face-lift surgery?

Rhytidectomy is generally suitable for individuals with the following criteria:

  • Signs of Aging: When signs of aging, such as sagging, wrinkles, or loss of elasticity in the face and neck, begin to appear over time, this surgery may be considered.
  • Health Status: The patient’s overall health condition should be good for the surgery to be successfully and safely performed. Individuals with chronic diseases or health issues that might interfere with the operation are advised to consult their doctors before undergoing this surgery.
  • Smoking Habits: Smoking slows the healing process and can increase the risk of complications. Therefore, it’s recommended for those considering the surgery to quit smoking or at least refrain from smoking for a while before and after the operation.
  • Realistic Expectations: It’s essential to be aware of a face-lift’s limitations and have realistic expectations. This surgery cannot completely change the face but can alleviate existing signs of aging.
  • Skin Elasticity: For the surgery to succeed, the skin needs to retain some elasticity.
  • Bone Structure: A strong bone structure can assist the surgeon in achieving better results during the face-lift procedure.

How long do the results of a face-lift surgery last?

On average, the effects of a face-lift can last between 5 to 10 years or even longer. However, slight sagging and signs of aging might be observed within this timeframe. As a result, some patients might consider additional touch-ups or complementary procedures over time.

Some key factors include:

  • Age: Depending on the age at which you have the surgery, the longevity of the results can vary. A face-lift performed by a younger generation may have longer-lasting effects.
  • Skin Quality: Skin with good elasticity can remain tight for a longer time after the surgery.
  • Lifestyle: Factors like smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, insufficient sleep, and an unbalanced diet can negatively affect skin quality and may cause the effects of the surgery to diminish more quickly.
  • Sun Exposure: Prolonged exposure to the sun can accelerate skin aging; therefore, sun protection can help prolong the effects of a face-lift.
  • Genetic Factors: Family members’ skin quality and aging process can influence your aging trajectory.

Will there be marks after Face-Lift?

Any possible mark will be minimized when an expert doctor operates the patient as special sutures and dressing material will be used. Since cut around the ear is at the connection line of the face, this cut is less visible. Also, since cut behind and above the ear will be under hairy skin, marks in this area are invisible. Since complications such as bleeding, infection and skin loss (generally due to intense smoking) will prevent scar healing process, marks that need treatment can occur in these cases.

Alternatives to face-lift surgery

Non-Surgical Facelift

Non-surgical facelift refers to facial rejuvenation methods that aim to reduce sagging and wrinkles in the skin, improve facial contours, and achieve a younger appearance without requiring surgical intervention.

The effects of these methods are generally temporary, and their longevity varies depending on the technique used and individual factors. Results can last from several months to a few years, but these durations are not as long as surgical facelifts and may require repeat treatments.

These treatments are suitable, especially for individuals with mild to moderate skin sagging and signs of aging. They appeal to those who prefer not to undergo the risks of surgical procedures or lengthy recovery periods but still seek rejuvenating effects on their faces. However, for severe skin sagging or those desiring more dramatic results, surgical intervention might be more appropriate.

It should be noted that some of the techniques below are not direct facelift applications but are preventative measures against facial sagging.

Liquid Facelift

A liquid facelift is a non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedure primarily used to address volume loss in the face, reduce wrinkles, and improve facial contours. This method involves the injection of fillers such as hyaluronic acid and sometimes botulinum toxin injections (like Botox). The procedure is carried out by injecting these substances under the skin.


HIFU stands for High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound and is used for skin tightening and facial rejuvenation by sending ultrasound waves deep into the skin layers. HIFU stimulates collagen production in the lower layers of the skin, leading to skin tightening and rejuvenation.

This method is popular as a non-surgical facelift alternative because it is performed without any cuts or needles on the skin. HIFU is particularly used to treat sagging in the face, neck, and décolleté areas.


The Fotona laser device stimulates collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin without damaging the surface, which aids in the natural tightening and rejuvenation of the skin.

Fotona laser treatment is aimed at reducing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone and texture, and overall providing a tighter, more vibrant skin appearance.

The procedure is generally painless and has minimal recovery time, allowing patients to return to their normal activities immediately after the treatment.

Gold Needle Therapy

Known as micro-needling radiofrequency, this procedure uses gold-plated micro-needles. These needles create small punctures in the lower layers of the skin, delivering radiofrequency energy. This energy generates heat in the inner layers of the skin, promoting collagen and elastin production, which helps in skin tightening and rejuvenation.

Gold needle therapy targets reducing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone and texture, minimizing pores, and tightening the skin.

It is also used to treat acne scars and various skin blemishes. The procedure is generally considered safe and effective, with minimal pain and recovery time.


PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) treatment is not a lifting procedure but can prevent facial sagging with regular sessions.

PRP enhances collagen production in the skin, leading to natural rejuvenation and tightening. This method helps in reducing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone and texture, and overall making the skin look more vibrant and healthy.

PRP is a popular option among skin renewal and facelift procedures as it uses the individual’s blood, reducing the risk of allergic reactions, and is generally considered a safe and effective treatment.

Thread Lift

In this method, specially-made suspension threads are inserted under the skin, which lifts and corrects sagging by pulling the skin upwards. Two popular thread lift techniques are the French lift and the thread lift.

The French lift is a facelift procedure where thin, absorbable threads are placed under the skin. Once these threads are positioned, they are used to lift certain areas of the face. This method is particularly done under local anesthesia, especially in the middle area of the face and along the jawline.

The thread lift uses thin, non-absorbable threads placed under the skin. These threads are designed to support and lift sagging areas of the face. The threads are positioned at specific points under the skin, helping the face achieve a tighter and lifted appearance. This is performed under local anesthesia.

Functional CO2 Laser

Functional CO2 laser treatment creates microscopic holes in the skin, triggering the skin’s natural healing process and promoting the production of new, healthy skin cells. This process also increases the production of collagen and elastin beneath the skin, which helps the skin become tighter, smoother, and appear more youthful.

This treatment is used to address various skin issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, skin discolorations, and enlarged pores.

Youth Injection

This procedure is not a direct facelift but a preventive application against facial sagging. It involves injecting a mixture of various vitamins, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and sometimes growth factors derived from the individual’s blood into the skin. The purpose of the youth injection is to increase skin hydration, improve skin tone and texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and overall make the skin look more vibrant and youthful.

Salmon DNA Vaccine

Similarly, this method is a preventive application against facial sagging, not a direct lifting procedure. DNA extracted from salmon sperm is injected into the skin. Salmon DNA is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, which help maintain the skin’s elasticity and youthful appearance.

The main benefits of the salmon DNA vaccine include moisturizing the skin, reducing wrinkles, and improving skin texture. It also promotes collagen production in the skin, enhancing skin firmness.


This method uses ultrasound technology to focus on the deep layers of the skin, applying heat to stimulate natural collagen production.

Ulthera reaches the lower layers of the skin without damaging the skin surface, resulting in skin tightening and rejuvenation. It is particularly used on the face, neck, and décolleté areas and can be applied to different areas of the skin, including the eyelids.

Home Facelift Applications

Facial tightening at home can be achieved both through natural methods and regular skincare routines. This process can be supported by applying natural face masks and using nourishing skin care products.

Additionally, regular facial exercises strengthen the facial muscles, helping the skin to maintain a tight and youthful appearance.

To prevent facial sagging, it is also important to maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water, as well as avoid harmful habits. Factors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can accelerate the aging process of the skin and reduce its elasticity.

For tightening the face, skin care products that enhance elasticity, face yoga or massage techniques, and moisturizers are highly effective. These methods support the skin’s health and help reduce signs of aging.

Facial Tapes

Facial tapes are cosmetic products designed for skin tightening and wrinkle reduction, typically made from flexible and adhesive materials. These tapes are applied to specific areas of the face to temporarily stretch the skin, aiming to provide a smoother, tighter appearance. 

They are commonly used in areas prone to wrinkles, such as the forehead, around the eyes, cheeks, and neck.

The use of facial tapes is generally straightforward: the tape is applied to clean and dry skin and left on for a specified duration. The pressure and stretching effect of the tapes on the skin temporarily create a tighter and more youthful appearance.

Face Yoga

Face yoga consists of facial exercises intended to work out the facial muscles and help the skin appear younger and more vibrant. It assists in improving various muscle groups in the face, facial expressions, and skin firmness.

Face yoga exercises typically involve movements in areas like the forehead, around the eyes, cheeks, lips, and neck.

The key benefits of face yoga include increasing skin elasticity, defining facial contours, and reducing wrinkles and fine lines. When performed regularly, these exercises strengthen facial muscles and improve blood circulation, aiding in making the skin appear tighter and more youthful.

The cost of a face-lift surgery

The starting cost of Face lift in Turkey is $4000 on average. In the price for Face lift, there is a hospital charge, hotel charge, transportation, medical services from surgery preparations up to afterwards treatments, and also consultations and follow-ups.

The cost of a face-lift can vary based on several factors.

These factors include:

  • Surgeon’s Experience: A fee for a plastic surgeon who is specialized and experienced in the field is generally higher.
  • Geographical Location: The city or country where the surgery is performed can affect the prices.
  • Scope of the Surgery: Whether additional procedures, such as a neck lift, are required in addition to the facelift.
  • Clinic/Hospital Fees: The cost of the operating room used, anesthesia, and other medical services.
  • Post-operative Care: Follow-up after surgery, medications, and materials required for treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

In which season is facelift surgery performed?

Facelift surgery is particularly recommended during the autumn and winter. The reason for this is the reduced intensity of sunlight in colder months, which lessens the risk of harmful UV rays affecting the skin during the healing period. Additionally, cold weather can help reduce swelling and bruising of the skin.

Does a facelift look natural?

Whether a facelift will look natural depends on factors like the surgeon’s skill and experience, the techniques used, and the patient’s skin structure. A skilled surgeon, using appropriate techniques, can achieve a natural-looking result.

Does a facelift change your smile?

Facelift surgery generally targets the lower part of the face and neck and is not expected to directly change your smile. However, in some cases, there might be slight changes in your smile.

For example, the tightening and lifting procedures performed during a facelift may affect the position of the cheeks and the area around the lips, which could result in minor changes to your smile.

Can abnormal situations occur during surgery?

Like any surgical procedure, facelift surgery carries certain risks and potential complications. These include problems related to anesthesia, general health risks, and surgery-specific complications.

For instance, surgeries performed under anesthesia can lead to allergic reactions or other health issues related to anesthesia. Additionally, as with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of bleeding and infection.

Damage to nerves, muscles, and other tissues during surgery can cause problems such as loss of sensation and limited mobility.

How much younger will facelift surgery make me look?

The extent of rejuvenation varies from person to person. Factors such as skin structure, the degree of existing wrinkles, and sagging determine the extent of rejuvenation the surgery can provide.

Younger patients may see more pronounced results due to the natural elasticity of their skin. The overall health condition also affects the healing process and the longevity of the results.

He was born in 1983 in Bandirma. He completed her primary education in Setbaşı Primary School and her secondary and high school education in Bursa Anatolian High School. In 2007, he graduated from Uludağ University Faculty of Medicine. In 2014, he completed his residency training in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at Bezm-i Alem Vakif University.