A facelift, also known as rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the face and neck. It reduces the appearance of facial wrinkles and other telltale signs of aging. During a facelift, facial soft tissues are lifted, excess skin is removed and skin is draped back over the newly defined contours.

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Why it's done

During normal process of ageing, skin begins to lose elasticity, and facial tissues lose volume, which results in “jowls” on the lower face, deep wrinkles, and loose skin on the neck. Patients who are bothered by these signs of aging may find a facelift to be a good solution to improve appearance and boost self-confidence. It is often said that having a facelift works to “turn back the clock,” helping a person look like a younger version of him or herself.

You might consider a facelift if:

  • Your facial skin has become loose
  • Your cheeks are sagging
  • You have excess skin hanging from your lower jawline (jowls)
  • You have lost definition and have excess fat in your neck
  • Vertical bands of skin in your neck (of the platysma muscle) have become visible
  • You feel that an aging appearance is negatively affecting your career or personal relationships

A facelift isn't a treatment of choice for superficial wrinkles, sun damage, creases around the nose and upper lip, or irregularities in skin color.

Ideal candidates

There is a number of factors that can affect whether or not an individual is a good candidate for facelift surgery. Such factors are: skin elasticity (a good facelift candidate will have skin that retains some of its natural suppleness and flexibility and that is able to conform to its new, improved contours), bone structure (well-defined underlying bone structure provides support and contribute to satisfying results), realistic expectations (a candidate should also understand the limitations of facial plastic surgery procedures) and good overall health.

The facelift procedure isn't just for women – men can also turn to rhytidectomy to erase the signs of aging and achieve a younger, rejuvenated look. Most patients who undergo rhytidectomy are between the ages of 40 and 70 years old. However, people older than 70 can benefit from the surgery, as well.

What you should know

A facelift procedure does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the aging process in its core. A facelift can only be performed surgically; nonsurgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results, it may only help delay the time at which a facelift becomes appropriate.

An additional treatment can help to augment or enhance facelift results in some cases. Cosmetic surgeries frequently combined with facelift surgery include: facial liposuction, lip augmentation, eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).

Facelift Procedure

The plastic surgeon will lift and tighten the underlying muscles of the face to create more aesthetically pleasing contours and rejuvenate the facial structure. Then he or she will remove excess pockets of fat and skin that can contribute to an aged appearance. An experienced surgeon will perform this procedure with an artistic eye and extraordinary attention to detail.

In many cases, the length of a patient's facelift surgery determines whether local or general anesthesia will be used: often facelift surgery procedures can be performed using local anesthesia while during more intensive procedures, general anesthesia may be required. The exact technique a cosmetic surgeon uses during a facelift depends on a number of factors, including a patient’s anatomy and personal goals, the extent of the facelift (mini vs. standard), and whether or not another procedure is being performed at the same time.

There are several types of facelifts procedures. Traditional full facelift offers the most comprehensive results, but because it targets a larger area, the treatment requires a longer incision. Mid facelift procedures are designed to lift and tighten the tissues below the eyes and around the cheeks, with deeper incisions that allow the surgeon to lift the muscles that are normally untouched by a traditional facelift (he may also use fat grafting or facial implants to enhance contours).

Mini facelifts involve smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time, which is why this procedure is sometimes referred to as a “weekend facelift” (this surgery targets a smaller area, primarily treating the jaw, lower cheeks, and neck). This procedure is common among somewhat younger patients who are showing the first signs of aging. Lower facelifts target the bottom third of the face and it can be an excellent way to eliminate jowls, reduce deep nasolabial folds, lift the sagging corners of the mouth, and enhance the jaw (lower facelifts are suitable for patients of all ages).

Thread facelifts are a quick, minimally invasive alternative to traditional facelifts. During this procedure, a surgeon will create tiny stitches just below the skin to lift the underlying muscles. This procedure can often be performed without anesthesia and leaves no visible scars. Because the entire treatment takes about one to two hours, it is sometimes referred to as a “lunchtime lift.”

Each of the described techniques has its own advantages and disadvantages, which a surgeon can explain during the initial consultation.

Expectations and recovery

A facelift is a complex procedure requiring exceptional surgical skill, but the recovery process is surprisingly quick for most patients. Patients typically return to normal daily activities after about 2 weeks (strenuous exercise will need to wait about 4 weeks).

A long-term follow-up study published in 2014 found that after an average follow-up of 12.6 years, 68.5 percent of facelift patients rated their current degree of improvement as very good or beyond expectations, and an equal number felt that 10 or more years had been added to their youthful appearance.

Facelift Cost (Price)

Facelift costs can vary widely depending on the doctor and the geographic office location. When doctors and patients are determining the final total for a facelift, these are the considerations that have to be taken into account: the type of facelift (a traditional full facelift will cost more than a mini or mid-facelift), the type of anesthesia, techniques and additional treatments.

Plastic surgeon prof. Dr Milan Jovanovic

Plastic surgeon prof. Dr Milan Jovanovic

Prof. Dr Milan Jovanovic is a specialist in plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. As a surgeon with 27 years of surgical experience, Dr Jovanovic is one of the best experts in anti-ageing, plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery in the region.

He is a professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, where he teaches general education to students of the fifth year, as well as at the postgraduate education for doctors who specialize in the field of plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery. He is the Head of the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade.

About the Surgeon

Hospital for plastic and aesthetic surgery

Health institution General Hospital – Medical System Belgrade – MSB is a system which combines all medical and dental specialties.

Exceptional and complete services in the fields of anti-ageing, plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery are provided by the Center for Aesthetic Surgery MSB (Medical System Belgrade). Along with the necessary safety, quality, comfort and discretion, our main goal is – a satisfied patient.


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