While facelift procedures are elective and are generally performed only on patients deemed good candidates by plastic surgeons, the truth is that a facelift is a surgical procedure, meaning there are still risks involved.

Facelift Risks

Any time a surgery requires a patient to undergo general anesthesia — a possible choice for plastic surgeons performing a facelift — there will be risks. For example, anesthesia can cause breathing problems during the procedure for some patients. In rare cases, a patient might be allergic to anesthesia.

After the procedure, some of the risks patients face following a facelift include bleeding and infections. In many cases, these infections can be treated with antibiotics. Many patients also notice that it takes several weeks for the bruising and swelling to subside before they can finally see the results of their procedures.

While bleeding and infection are among the more common risks, there are other problems that can result from a facelift procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, those include:

  • Scarring
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Uneven skin texture
  • Changes in the shape of the face

“Some complications include skin loss, especially in smokers,” says Constance Barone, MD, FACS, a plastic surgeon practicing in San Antonio, Texas. “Sometimes a hematoma can happen. That is particularly true for patients who are taking blood thinners, aspirin and herbal medications like St. John’s Wort and Fish Oil.”

In many cases, be sure to select a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon in order to avoid the more severe complications some patients face after undergoing a facelift procedure.

Be sure to research your plastic surgeon before making an appointment for a consultation. Additionally, come to your consultation prepared to ask questions to ensure you’re positive the surgeon you’ve selected is the best choice to perform your facelift.

Lowering Your Facelift Risks

Being an informed patient is one of the best ways to ensure your facelift procedure goes as smoothly as possible. For example, experts recommend that patients stop smoking at least two weeks before they undergo a facelift.

Plastic surgeons tend to prefer to perform facelift procedures on patients in the ideal age group between the ages of 40 and 70. Patients who still have some elasticity in their skin tend to have the best results from a facelift procedure.

Because a facelift is an elective procedure, many plastic surgeons also prefer to perform these procedures on patients who do not have chronic health problems. Healthy patients tend to recover better from facelift procedures.

After undergoing a facelift, patients who do smoke may want to explore smoking cessation options. Living a healthy lifestyle after a facelift can help results last longer and slow some signs of aging. Many professionals also recommend wearing at least SPF 30 sunscreen daily in order to maximize your facelift results.

When to Call Your Surgeon

If you do notice symptoms of a possible infection — including excessive redness, swelling or pain — or another complication after undergoing a facelift, you should contact your plastic surgeon so he or she can help you quickly resolve the issue so you can get back to enjoying your new appearance.