At Buckhead Plastic Surgery, Atlanta

Facelifts have a long history in plastic surgery. The facelift of today creates a younger looking patient (often 10-12 years younger) with minimal signs of the procedure. If you are yearning to turn back the clock, there is no time like the present. One of today's facelift options may be right for you.

Problem: Sagging facial skin, sagging jowls, facial lines and folds, lack of jaw line definition

Solution: A facelift, or rhytidectomy

What is a Facelift?

A facelift is a rejuvenation surgery that goes beyond just skin tightening. To restore a younger appearance, modern facelifts extend below to the underlying facial muscles called the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) in addition to reducing loose skin.

As the face ages several changes occur. These changes include:

  • Loosening and descending of the fatty tissue
  • Loss of elasticity to the skin
  • Loss of fatty tissue
  • Some loss of the underlying bony structures.

These unwelcome changes result in a face that looks longer and more square in shape.  Younger faces tend to be more tapered, rounded or angular. Having mastered the traditional facelift, Dr. Alan N. Larsen does even more. To obtain the most natural outcome with his facelift, Dr. Larsen often reduces, redistributes, and in some cases adds fat back to the face. The modern facelift as performed by Dr. Larsen has moved away from using skin tension alone to contour the face.

The most important aspect of the facelift is to improve the facial shape while limiting the signs of the surgical procedure.

To best determine if a facelift is right for you, come to our Atlanta office for a consultation. We are qualified and experienced in these procedures and have the skills to revitalize your look and create a youthful, beautiful facial expression. Dr. Larsen will examine each of your features individually and how they combine with your face as a whole. That will help define which problems to correct, how much to correct, and how they will all play together – which could make you look 10 or more years younger without the appearance of having facelift surgery.

Deciding if a Facelift is Right For You

Facelifts are no longer seen as the procedure of women of a certain age. Today, facelift options are appealing to men and women of various ages. Options are tailored to each individual's needs. Most facelift patients are 40-60 years of age. What's more important than age is the patient's health and their motivation to look as young as they feel.

How it's Done

A facelift is a very detailed surgery taking into account all the features that you and the surgeon wish to rejuvenate. We don't notice all the facelifts that we pass because they are beautiful and natural. The old facelift with skin tension is obvious and we notice these regularly. Some plastic surgeons perform facelifts on an outpatient basis, in a hospital, or ambulatory surgical facility. Dr. Larsen's facelift is performed in an office surgical setting which is fully accredited.

We always recommend an overnight stay during which we can monitor the special care that you need in the initial 24-48 hours following this procedure. Dr. Larsen performs facelifts under general anesthesia, although in some cases local anesthesia with sedation is used. Facelifts should only be performed by board certified plastic surgeons and qualified facial plastic surgeons.

The facelift procedure is tailored to each patient's specific conditions. Along with the facelift many of Dr. Larsen's patients undergo a brow lift eyelid surgery as well as laser resurfacing. Additional fat may also be injected into hollow areas as well. Lip augmentation and possibly a chin augmentation can add to the overall outcome.

The facelift begins with your consultation and continues right through carefully placed incisions. In general, these incisions are made just inside the hairline at the temple extending down along the natural curve of the ear, behind the ear and into the hairline. Dr. Larsen considers your natural hairline while designing these incisions.

In cases where a full facelift is not necessary, the incision is often limited . These limited-incision facelifts require very careful planning to analyze your facial proportions and aging so that further planning and small corrections can be performed more effortlessly throughout the years, maintaining the overall result that you desire. Meticulous detail and a vision of the future create this foundation to beautifully sculpt your face.

Neck Contouring

The final component of the facelift addresses the neck. Through the facelift incision and a small incision beneath the chin, the excess skin, vertical bands and Turkey waddle can be manipulated and contoured. Excessive fatty tissue is removed and sculpted.

Once the underlying structure and support has been firmly redefined, the skin is draped over the new foundation and the excessive skin is carefully removed and the incisions closed. Incisions are typically closed with staples in the hairline and small sutures in the exposed skin areas. Care is taken not to remove too much skin which would result in an unnatural look. Skin that has been pulled too tight will not give you a longer-lasting result.

Your results depend on your anatomy as well as the goals outlined prior to surgery. A great outcome depends on meticulous attention to details in the technical portion of the procedure as well as an artistic touch to create the balanced facial features you desire.


Following surgery your face may be swollen, pale, pink, and numb altogether. Specialized ice packs will be placed on your face 24 hours a day for the first two days to alleviate swelling and discomfort. Most patients experience some discomfort but don't complain of severe pain. The ice helps tremendously. Some physicians use drain tubes. Dr. Larsen does not usually place any drains. Most patients reabsorb any excess fluid that may accumulate.

Initially you'll have a dressing on your face. It will be removed within a couple of hours of your waking up from the surgical procedure.  Our trained professionals will remove this dressing and start your specialized ice packs. Additionally some physicians place you in a supportive compression garment. We have not found the need to do this at Buckhead Plastic Surgery.

Soft cold compresses for the first 48 hours will be followed by warm compresses. Strictly keeping your head elevated with no movement leads to a speedy recovery. Patients usually eat a soft diet for the first day or two and then resume a normal diet. As you heal, your face will feel tighter for the first week or two.

Assistance from a responsible adult for the first few days is critical to decreasing complications and providing for a good outcome. Downtime is clearly a concern of patients having a facelift, especially with procedures being performed on younger patients. Healing is a progressive process and is controlled by mother nature.

Usually at four to five days the stitches are removed despite swelling and noticeable incisions. Patients are usually ready to venture outside at this time. As with any surgery, wearing sunscreen and a hat to protect the healing skin from the sun is essential. In a few weeks you will see a younger version of yourself. Complete healing will continue under the surface of the skin for quite some time. It is not uncommon for mild swelling and small lumps and bumps to take one to two months or more to resolve.

What to Expect

Initially after surgery you will be sleepy. This may be followed by a little anxiousness as you fully awake to find specialized ice packs along your face and eyes. After you are reassured about the dressings, your anxiousness will dissipate. You will find that you are sore but not in pain.

Over the next week or so, the bruising or ecchymoses resolves, swelling reduces, and you notice your new facial features. Your face will be rejuvenated. You will go through a phase during which your skin feels tight followed by a slow transition to normal feeling. After one month you should look good and after three months you should look great. A full return to activity is expected by six weeks.


Risks of surgery include bleeding beneath the skin, temporary hair loss at the incision sites and thickening of the scars. An asymmetry is possible although most likely noticeable only to you. Keep in mind that before surgery one side of your face did not match the other side.There is an extremely rare complication of nerve injury.

You may also need minor revisions to achieve your goals when tissues begin to loosen. As with any surgery, there are the risks associated with anesthesia. Your skin will also be tight and you will experience numbness for several months. These are not considered risks of surgery. Please see informed consent facelift for a more complete list.

Recovery Timeline

  • Discomfort the first night may include anxiousness because of the dressings.
  • Head elevation for 10 days to two weeks after surgery. Discomfort resolves quickly over the first two to three days.
  • Four to five days after surgery your neck and face will feel tight.
  • Sutures are removed four to five days after surgery.
  • You may return to a normal routine 10 days to two weeks after surgery.
  • Most patients return to work about two weeks after surgery.
  • Skin and neck start to soften somewhere around three to four weeks after surgery
  • You may return to full activity six to eight weeks after surgery.
  • Continue skin care, diet and exercise to maintain results.

Complementary Procedures

Lip augmentation is a procedure routinely performed on female patients undergoing facelift. I usually use the SMAS which was removed while tightening the facial framework. This tissue usually leads to fantastic lips.

Brow lift surgery rejuvenates the forehead, tightening the skin, smoothing the creases and raising the brow for a more alert, happy look.

Eyelid surgery will remove the excess of skin from the eyelids, remove the puffy bags, fill in the hollowness and restore a lifted youthful lower eyelid and cheek region.

Chin implant surgery restores a nice mandibular angle and chin.

Laser skin resurfacing is frequently used around the eyes or around the mouth to resurface, smoothen and tighten the skin.

Learn More About Facelift Surgery in Atlanta

Do you need more information about facelift surgery in Atlanta? Contact the office of double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alan N. Larsen. Our plastic surgery office is located in the Buckhead area of North Atlanta. Call (404) 367‐9005 to inquire about a consultation.