In this day and age, people struggling with their weight are presented with more solutions than ever before, ranging from noninvasive hypnotism to surgical interventions. However, not everybody thinks about what happens after extreme weight loss. Excess skin is common, especially in the face. While loose skin in other parts of the body can be hidden with clothing, the face and neck aren’t so easily covered. This can be distressing for people who want to lose weight for a self-esteem boost, only to be met with even more obstacles that prevent them from putting their best face forward.
Is a Facelift Ideal After Major Weight Loss?
It’s very common for people to lose fullness in their face and neck after a dramatic weight loss. Without fat to support the skin from underneath, excess skin is left sagging, resulting in a “deflated” look. This can exacerbate the appearance of heavy lines, jowls, and eye bags, making the patient look older than their true age. In these cases, a facelift is often the best procedure for correcting the loose skin associated with extreme weight loss.
What to Expect From a Facelift
Traditionally, facelifts are known as an anti-aging procedure that emphasizes the reduction of deep lines and droopiness to restore a youthful appearance. A facelift for a weight loss patient differs slightly because the emphasis is placed on excess skin removal rather than wrinkle reduction.
The surgery begins with an incision that extends from the hairline down to the temples. Severe cases may call for the incision to extend behind the ears to the lower scalp. Once the incision is made, the surgeon will remove excess skin, redistribute fat and tissue under the skin to contour the face, and draw the skin taut before suturing to close the wound and complete the procedure.
For tightening the neck area, the incision is made under the chin. Necklifts are often performed alongside facelifts for weight loss patients. Other common procedures include eye lifts, forehead lifts, and facial resurfacing. Depending on each person’s individual case, some or all of these procedures may be recommended to achieve ideal results.
Like any other surgery, undergoing a facelift comes with some risks. Consulting with a skilled facial plastic surgeon is the best way to minimize these risks, which may include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Permanent nerve injury
How to Prepare for a Facelift
Once the patient has been scheduled for a facelift, they will be instructed to follow specific instructions leading up to the day of their surgery. Following these instructions is vital to ensuring a successful facelift and quick recovery. The specifics will vary depending on each surgeon and the patient’s needs. Most patients will be instructed to:
- Avoid aspirin and other blood thinners
- Drink lots of water
- Color treated hair (or wait until completely healed from surgery)
- Arrange for a ride home after procedure
People who smoke regularly must abstain for 2-4 weeks before the procedure. Smoking increases the risk of infection and other surgical complications. It also inhibits proper circulation which can significantly affect the healing process. Many surgeons will not perform a facelift on someone who is still actively smoking.
Preparation for Weight Loss Patients
Weight loss patients may be required to follow additional guidelines prior to their surgery. Positive lifestyle changes, such as incorporating a healthy diet and exercise routine, may be recommended to promote faster healing. Those who have been diagnosed with chronic conditions related to their weight, like diabetes and high blood pressure, should consult with their physicians before considering a facelift.
After the surgery, patients must sleep with their head elevated for two weeks. This lessens the likelihood of swelling and keeps the stitches in place so the incision heals as cleanly as possible. For this reason, it’s also important to avoid turning the head and neck. Patients should also apply ointment as directed, change soiled dressings, follow their medication schedule, and keep an eye out for any signs of infection. Most people find that having a trusted friend act as a caretaker can be extremely beneficial during this time.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Facelift?
Due to the nature of the surgery, most people will undergo a number of lab tests and consultations before they’re cleared for a facelift. Candidates should be in good overall health, which reduces the risks associated with general anesthesia. They should also have realistic expectations and be committed to following all pre- and postoperative instructions. It’s helpful to have healthy skin with enough elasticity left for it to “bounce” back into shape.
For weight loss patients in particular, candidates should be at or close to their ideal weight. Very young patients might not even need surgery at all. People in their 20s who have lost a lot of weight probably have enough skin laxity left to recover a more natural looking face without the need for surgery.
Some people may not be good candidates for surgery or may be apprehensive about going under the knife. Luckily, modern medicine also provides several noninvasive procedures that address loose skin in the face. Injectable fillers can be placed strategically to plump up sunken areas in the cheeks, under the eyes, and along the jaw. Ultrasound or laser therapies can tighten skin by stimulating collagen production.
While these interventions can improve sagging skin, a facelift is the best option for severe cases. Whether or not they are considering this procedure after a major weight loss, patients should always consult with a trained expert as part of their decision making process.
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