Surgery Explained

There are a number of different ways that a facelift can be done. The method chosen depends on the appearance of person undergoing the procedure and their individual needs and expectations.

For example those who cannot afford much “downtime” because of personal or work commitments would most often elect to undergo a less extensive procedure. This means having a less invasive lift, where a shorter surgical incision is used. Such techniques are more often used in younger people, often in their forties or fifties.

This is referred to as a “short scar” facelift or MACS (=Minimal Access Cranial Suspension) lift. The cut or incision is in front of the ear and hairline. Internal stitches are applies to the tissues under the skin to lift them up and the excess skin is removed.

The main effect is to lift the mid face area and tighten up the jaw line or “jowl” area. This more limited lift heals quicker so that less recovery time is needed.

However this does not mean that the result is not as good. Extensive surgery is often not required to achieve the desired outcome in this part of the face. In fact the trend in modern facelifting is shifting towards the type of surgery that is less extensive and requires less recovery time.

The more traditional or sub SMAS (=Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) facelift uses a longer incision that extends around the earlobe and behind the ear into the hairline at the back of the ear.

This is particularly used in people who have sagging of the neck as well as aging of the face. The surgery is more extensive, with a wider area of skin “undermined” and usually produces more excess skin to be trimmed.

The actual lift relies on either stitching or removing some of the tissues or “SMAS” under the skin to achieve the lift. Recovery time is longer and the surgery takes up to four hours to perform. People who have this procedure are often in the older age group.


People need to be aware that smoking is a big risk factor in rhytidectomy. It is essential that every effort be made to stop smoking for at least two weeks before and after a face lift. In fact there are times when heavy smoking is just too much of a risk to proceed with the procedure.

Other medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure need to be identified and treated before surgery.

Medication such as aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs that affect blood clotting should be avoided.


The short scar lift can be performed under local anaesthesia and sedation.

The more extensive lifting procedures are more often performed under general anaesthetic although it is possible to use local anaesthesia and sedation. An overnight stay in hospital is usual.


Face Lift (PDF 218Kb)