Risks & Complications of Facelift
Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk and it is important that you understand the risks involved with Facelift surgery. An individual’s choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience the following complications, you should discuss each of them with your surgeon to make sure you understand the risks, potential complications, and consequences of Facelift.
Bleeding – It is possible, though unusual, that you may have problems with bleeding during or after surgery. Should post-operative bleeding occur, it may require emergency treatment to drain accumulated blood or require a blood transfusion. Do not take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications for ten days before surgery, as this contributes to a greater risk of bleeding. Non-prescription “herbs” and dietary supplements can increase the risk of surgical bleeding. Hypertension (high blood pressure) that is not under good medical control may cause bleeding during or after surgery. Accumulations of blood under the skin may delay healing and cause scarring.
Infection – Infection is unusual after this surgery. Should an infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics or surgery may be necessary.
Skin scarring – Although good wound healing after a surgical procedure is expected, abnormal scars may occur within the skin and deeper tissues. Scars may be unattractive and of different colour from the surrounding skin. There is the possibility of visible marks from sutures. Excessive scarring is uncommon. Additional treatments including surgery may be necessary to treat abnormal scarring.
Change in skin sensation – Diminished (or loss) of skin sensation in the face and scalp area may not totally resolve after face lift surgery.
Skin contour irregularities – Contour irregularities, depressions, and wrinkling of skin may occur after facelift.
Damage to deeper structures – Deeper structures such as blood vessels, muscles, and particularly nerves may be damaged during the course of surgery. The potential for this to occur varies with the type of facelift procedure performed. Injury to deeper structures may be temporary or permanent
Permanent Skin Discoloration – This is rare after most forms of surgery. Permanent staining may result if the patient sunbathes or uses ultraviolet sun beds whilst any visible skin bruising remains.
Asymmetry – The human face is normally asymmetrical. There can be a variation from one side to the other in the results obtained from a facelift procedure.
Surgical anaesthesia – Both local and general anaesthesia involve risk. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anaesthesia or sedation.
Nerve injury – Motor and sensory nerves may be injured during a facelift operation. Weakness or loss of facial movements may occur after facelift surgery. Nerve injuries may cause temporary or permanent loss of facial movements and feeling. Such injuries may improve over time. Injury to sensory nerves of the face, neck and ear regions may cause temporary or, more rarely, permanent numbness. Painful nerve scarring is very rare.
Chronic pain – Chronic pain is a very rare complication after a facelift.
Skin disorders/skin cancer – A facelift is a surgical procedure for the tightening of skin and deeper structures of the face. Skin disorders and skin cancer may occur independently of a facelift.
Unsatisfactory result – There is the possibility of a poor result from the facelift + Blepharoplasty surgery. This would include risks such as unacceptable visible deformities, loss of facial movement, wound disruption, and loss of sensation. You may be disappointed with the results of surgery. Infrequently, it is necessary to perform additional surgery to improve your results. Additional surgical procedures such as a brow lift may be needed to correct eyebrow sagging, which contributes to upper eyelid problems.
Allergic reactions – In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture material, or topical preparations have been reported. More serious systemic reactions may occur to drugs used during surgery and to prescription medicines. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
Hair loss – Hair loss may occur in areas of the face where the skin was elevated during surgery. The occurrence of this is not predictable.
Delayed healing – Wound disruption or delayed wound healing is possible. Some areas of the face may not heal normally or may take a long time to heal. Areas of skin may die. Frequent dressing changes or further surgery may be required to remove the non-healed tissue.
Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Long term effects – Subsequent alterations in facial appearance may occur as the result of aging, weight loss or gain, sun exposure, or other circumstances not related to facelift surgery. Facelift surgery does not arrest the aging process or produce permanent tightening of the face and neck. Future surgery or other treatments may be necessary to maintain the results of a facelift operation.
Unsatisfactory result – You may be disappointed with the results of surgery. Infrequently, it is necessary to perform additional surgery to improve your results.
Additional Surgery Necessary
There are many variable conditions in addition to risk and potential surgical complications that may influence the long term result from facelift surgery. Even though risks and complications occur infrequently, the risks cited are the ones that are particularly associated with facelift surgery. Other complications and risks can occur but are even more uncommon. Should complications occur, additional surgery or other treatments may be necessary. The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained.
Deep Venous Thrombosis, Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications: Surgery, especially longer procedures, may be associated with the formation of, or increase in, blood clots in the venous system. Pulmonary complications may occur secondarily to blood clots (pulmonary emboli), fat deposits (fat emboli) or partial collapse of the lungs after general anaesthesia. Pulmonary and fat emboli can be life threatening or fatal in some circumstances. Air travel, inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidents of blood clots travelling to the lung causing a major blood clot that may result in death. It is important to discuss with your surgeon any past history of blood clots of swollen legs that may contribute to this condition. Cardiac complications are a risk with any surgery with anaesthesia, even in patients without symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you might require hospitalisation and additional treatments.
Smoking, Second-Hand Smoke Exposure, Nicotine Products (Patch, Gum, Nasal spray): Patients who are currently smoking, use tobacco or nicotine products are at a greater risk of significant surgical complications of skin dying, delay in healing and additional scarring. Individuals exposed to second hand smoke are also at potential risk for similar complications attributable to nicotine exposure. Additionally, smokers may have a significant negative effect from anaesthesia and recovery from anaesthesia, with coughing and possibly increased bleeding. Individuals who are not exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine containing products have a significantly lower risk of this type of complication.
It is important to refrain from smoking at least six weeks before surgery and until your surgeon states it is safe to return, if desired.
Female patients information: It is important to inform your surgeon if you use birth control pills, oestrogen replacement, or if you believe you may be pregnant. Many medications, including antibiotics, may neutralize the preventive effects of birth control pills, allowing for conception and pregnancy.
Intimate Relations after Surgery: Surgery involves coagulating of blood vessels, and increased activity of any kind may open these vessels leading to a bleed or hematoma. Increased activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause additional bruising, swelling and the need for return to surgery and control of bleeding. It is wise to refrain from sexual activity until your surgeon states it is safe.
Medications: There are many adverse reactions that occur as the result of taking over the counter, herbal, and/or prescription medications. Be sure to check with your surgeon about any drug interactions that may exist with medication that you are already taking. If you have an adverse reaction, stop the medication immediately and call your surgeon for further instructions. If the reaction is severe, go immediately to nearest hospital. When taking the prescribed pain medication after surgery, realize that they can affect your thought process. Do not drive, do not operate complex equipment, do not make any important decisions and do not drink any alcohol while taking these medications. Be sure to take your prescribed medication only as directed.