As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and the stresses of daily life alter their faces. Fat from the cheeks descend causing deep creases between the nose and mouth. A cheek lift raises the cheek fat pads giving a more youthful appearance. Alternative non-surgical alternatives include injections with filler such as Radiesse or Juvederm to volumize the cheeks. If you are considering a cheek lift, the following will give you a basic understanding of the procedure. You will learn when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It cannot answer all of your questions, since much depends on the individual patient. Please ask Dr. Baroody about anything you do not understand.
THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR A CHEEK LIFT
Those who have good skin elasticity and bone structure. Most patients are between forty and seventy.
ALL SURGERY CARRIES SOME UNCERTAINTY AND RISK
When a cheek lift is performed by a board certified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. Still, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, physical reactions,and healing abilities; therefore the outcome is never completely predictable. Complications that can occur include bleeding, injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to anesthesia. Smoking will greatly decrease your ability to heal properly. You will reduce your risks by closely following Dr. Baroody’s instructions both before and after surgery.
PLANNING YOUR SURGERY
Cheek lifts are very individualized procedures. During your initial consultation, Dr. Baroody will evaluate your face and discuss your goals for surgery. Dr. Baroody will review any medical conditions that may cause problems during or after surgery, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, or the tendency to scar poorly. Be sure to inform Dr. Baroody if you smoke or are taking any supplements/medications. If a cheek lift is right for you, Dr. Baroody will explain the technique, potential complications, before and after instructions, as well as medications you should avoid. Do not hesitate to ask Dr. Baroody any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
PREPARING FOR YOUR SURGERY
Dr. Baroody will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, smoking, and avoiding certain vitamins/medications. Carefully following these instructions will decrease your overall surgical risks. If you smoke, it’s especially important to stop at least four weeks before and after surgery. Smoking inhibits blood flow to the skin and can interfere with the healing of your incisions. Whether your cheek lift is being done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.
WHERE YOUR SURGERY WILL BE PERFORMED
A cheek lift may be performed at Ridgefield Surgery Center (Danbury Hospital) or New Milford hospital. It is typically performed on an outpatient basis.
TYPES OF ANESTHESIA
Dr. Baroody prefers general anesthesia where you will be asleep through the operation. Another option includes local anesthesia, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You will be awake but relaxed.
A cheek lift usually takes two to three hours. Incisions are usually within the hair and above the upper gum line within the mouth. An incision just below the lower eyelashes may also be used. Generally speaking, Dr. Baroody develops a plane along the cheek bone releasing the attachments to the overlying fat pad of the cheek. A small incision is made in the scalp hair and a plane is developed under the forehead skin and connected with the cheek. Sutures are placed within the cheek fat and suspended over the temporalis muscle beneath the scalp. Following surgery, a small, thin tube is temporarily placed behind your ear to drain any fluid that may accumulate. Dr. Baroody will also wrap your head loosely in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
AFTER YOUR SURGERY
Expect minimal discomfort after surgery. Severe pain or a sudden swelling of your cheeks and neck should be reported to Dr. Baroody immediately. Some numbness of the skin is normal and will improve over the next few weeks to months.
Minimize swelling by elevating your head and keeping your head as still as possible for a couple days after surgery. The drains and bandages will be removed one day after surgery. Do not be concerned about how you look directly after surgery. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you’ll be looking great. Most of your stitches will be removed after approximately five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches or metal clips in your hairline could be left in a few days longer.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair. Dr. Baroody will give more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. Avoid strenuous activity, including sex and heavy housework, for at least two weeks (walking and mild stretching are fine). Above all, get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing. At the beginning, your face may look and feel rather strange. Some bruising may persist for two or three weeks, and you may tire easily. It’s not surprising that some patients are disappointed and depressed at first. By the third week, you will look and feel much better. Most patients are back to work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If needed, makeup can mask most of the remaining bruises.
YOUR NEW LOOK
The chances are excellent that you will be happy with your cheek lift; especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. You will have some scars from your cheek lift, but they are usually hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your eyelids. In any case, they will fade within time and should be scarcely visible. Having a cheek lift doesn’t stop the clock. Your face will continue to age with time. Even so, years later you will look younger than if you chose not to have a cheek lift at all.