Definition of Rhytidoplasty

rhytidoplastyRhytidoplasty is the clinical term for facelift, an operation to smooth and tighten the skin on the face. Rhytidoplasty, also called rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic surgery appropriate for treating moderate to significant wrinkles and sags on the face.

There are numerous variations of rhytidoplasty that target only certain regions of the face or the whole face.

Rhytidoplasty is generally an outpatient surgery (ambulatory surgery) with the person going home the same day. The operation generally takes three to six hours, though can take longer for a complex, total rhytidoplasty. Occasionally the surgeon may prefer to keep the person overnight in the hospital.

Before the operation the surgeon carefully marks the incision lines on the face with a surgical marking pen or permanent marker. Rhytidoplasty involves separating the skin from the underlying tissues, trimming away excess fat as well as skin, and reattaching the skin so it is tighter across the supporting tissues. Depending on the type of operation, the surgeon may also bolster the supporting tissues with suspension sutures to help them “lift” the face.

Swelling, discoloration, and pain are common following surgery, though analgesic medications (pain relievers) can mitigate the pain. Many people experience pulling and stretching sensations during healing. Skin closures, usually sutures or staples, remain for 7 to 10 days. Bruising and swelling may remain for several weeks, as does numbness of the skin. Full recovery takes several months.

Risks of Rhytidoplasty

The risks of rhytidoplasty include excessive bleeding during as well as after surgery, infection, permanent loss of sensation or nerve damage, excessive scarring, separation of the tissues, and tissue death (necrosis). It is important to have realistic expectations around what the surgery can and cannot achieve and to understand the range of variation that is possible with regard to the final outcome. Though many people are satisfied with their appearance when healing is complete, there is an element of unpredictability as to the final result.

Rhytidoplasty does not prevent further changes, such as those resulting from the natural aging process, from occurring. People who wish to maintain a specific appearance through cosmetic surgery are likely to require multiple procedures over time. It is important to discuss these factors with the plastic surgeon.


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