What Is Rhytidectomy? About the Procedure, Benefits, Risks, Cost

One of the most dramatic ways to remove or reduce the appearance of sagging skin and wrinkles caused by age, rhytidectomy improves the appearance of the neck, temples, cheeks, and jaw line. Several factors impact the overall results of the treatment as well as the overall cost, so it’s important to understand the basics of the treatment to determine if it is a good option for you. Likewise, having all of the information beforehand can actually give you a better idea of what kind of results to expect.

What Is Rhytidecomy?

tightening the skin with a surgical procedure

More commonly known as a facelift, rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure that reverses the visible signs of aging, specifically in the face and neck. Some of the most common signs of aging include:

  • Loosening of the facial skin that creates sagging.
  • Deepening of the crease lines between the nose and corner of the mouth.
  • Fat deposits that have fallen or disappeared.
  • Loose skin and excess fat in the neck that may appear as a double chin or “turkey neck”.

Many people experience the loss of youthful contours in the face as a result of several factors, including thinning skin, lost facial fat, gravity, sun damage, smoking, heredity, and even stress. Rhytidectomy can reverse many of these factors and give you a more youthful looking appearance.

It is important to note, however, that a facelift does not change your fundamental appearance, nor does it stop the process of aging.

What Happens During the Procedure?

Rhytidectomy before and after
Rhytidectomy before (left) and after (right)

Rhytidectomy involves a series of steps:

1. Anesthesia

Medication is administered to maintain your comfort throughout the procedure. You generally have the choice of intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will suggest one that is the best option for you.

You may also choose to pair your facelift with other procedures to enhance the results of your treatment. These options include:

  • Implants or fat transfer to enhance your facial contour.
  • Resurfacing to improve the overall texture and tone of your face.
  • Injections or fillers to reduce wrinkles.

2. Incision

Depending on your expected outcome, you have the option of a traditional facelift, limited incision facelift, or neck lift. Your doctor will work with you to determine your expectations and make a recommendation based on your desired outcome. Once the incision(s) is made, the surgeon will make necessary changes to your facial composition to achieve the desired results.

3. Closing Incision

Your incision(s) will be closed once the procedure is complete. You may have sutures that dissolve on their own or ones that must be removed a few days after the procedure. Some surgeons may also use glue to close the incision site. Once you have healed. Your incision lines will be concealed within your hairline and the natural contours of your face.

4. See Results

You’ll see the visible results of your treatment once all of your swelling and bruising disappear after the procedure. You should not only appear more youthful and rested but also more self-confident.

What Are the Benefits of Rhytidectomy?

Rhytidectomy before and after

A facelift can give you a younger, healthier appearance. While you will continue to age, rhytidectomy takes years off of your face. Some individuals even experience increased self-confidence and reduced anxiety, particularly about growing older.

A facelift can reduce many of the most common signs of aging. It cannot, however, reverse the effects of sun damage, remove all facial wrinkles. To achieve the best results, you may want to have a facelift first and then treat skin damage with an effective treatment.

The overall effectiveness and safety of your surgery depends largely on the skill of your surgeon. So it is important to work with a qualified professional whom you trust and who is highly recommended.

Are There Any Risks to Rhytidectomy?

The risks of your treatment are dramatically reduced by working with a qualified professional. Nonetheless, there are a few risks associated with any surgical treatment, and rhytidectomy is no different. Problems that may occur as a result of the treatment include:

  • Reactions to the anesthesia used.
  • Bleeding under the skin or at the incision site.
  • Infection.
  • Nerve damage to the muscles in the face, which may also cause paralysis or spasm in the face.
  • Numbness in any of your facial region lasting up to 6 months or a year.
  • Hair loss, also known as alopecia.
  • Tissue loss.
  • Scarring.
  • Blood clots in the large veins leading to the heart and lungs, known as pulmonary embolism – uncommon but still possible.

As with any cosmetic procedure, there is also the potential that the results will not be what you expected. In this case, an experienced plastic surgeon is typically able to give you the best idea of what you can expect after surgery.

How Much Does Rhytidectomy Cost?

According to statistics present by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of rhytidectomy in 2016 was $7,048. However, it is important to understand that the cost of facelifts can vary widely. And the quoted cost of some procedures may not include anesthesia, use of operating room facilities, and other related expenses. Likewise, a surgeon may base his or her fees on experience as well as geographic location. Most insurance plans do not cover the cost of rhytidectomy or any of its complications; however, most plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans.

Costs involved with a facelift include:

  • The surgeon’s fee.
  • Hospital or operating facility costs.
  • Anesthesia fees.
  • Prescription medications.
  • Post-surgery garments needed.
  • Any medical tests needed.

It is important to remember that choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon should give you peace of mind and be a more important factor than the cost of the procedure.

Final Thoughts

Rhytidectomy is an effective cosmetic procedure that improves the overall appearance of the face and neck. It can reduce the signs of aging and literally take years off of your face. It is important to understand that there are potential risks involved with a facelift and that the surgery does not inherently change your general appearance but rather the composition and contour of your face.

While the cost of a facelift may not be covered by your insurance provider, it may be offset with a surgeon’s financing plan if available and should not be seen as a hindrance to receiving the treatment you desire.

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