Technically known as rhytidectomy, a facelift is a surgical procedure that smooths loose skin on the face and neck, tightens underlying tissue and muscles, and removes excess fat. It is one of the most sought-after and satisfying aesthetic surgical procedures in La Jolla and San Diego.

A facelift can remove many, but usually not all, wrinkles and it can remove much of the sagging skin of the face and neck. It will give you a more youthful, fresher, and natural appearance.

Plastic surgery is the fusion of art and science. To sculpt the face through plastic surgery requires an approach that is individualized, studied, and measured. Achieving the most appropriate result for each face requires the ability to evaluate the facial anatomy and then to apply scientific principles, skill, and artistry. Dr. Robert Singer is known worldwide for his expertise and skill with the facelift procedure. He has performed this delicate surgical procedure at his La Jolla practice for many people wanting a rejuvenated, younger appearance.

Many men and women who opt for a facelift consider other procedures to be performed concurrently, when possible, to shorten the overall recovery time and create a harmonious result. These include nose surgery, eyelid surgerybrow lift, micro-fat grafts, chin and cheek augmentation, or injectables like Juvederm, Restylane, Botox, or Dysport. Injectables can further smooth some of the fine lines that remain after a facelift.

For more information about facelift surgery in La Jolla and San Diego, contact us or call Dr. Singer at 858.455.0290

Who Needs a Facelift?

Today, men and women increasingly want to look as young as they feel. No one wants to look tired, especially when they aren’t. The facelift (rhytidectomy) helps reverse the signs of aging, producing a more natural, youthful facial appearance.

You should consider a facelift when what you see in the mirror does not match what you feel on the inside, when you have a support structure in place to facilitate a comfortable recovery, and when you are confident you are doing this for yourself and not to please others.

Most patients who seek a facelift are between 40 and 70 years old, but there is no “correct” age. If you are not physically or emotionally ready for a facelift, there are non-invasive, temporary procedures to rejuvenate your faces such as supervised skin care, chemical peels, injectable fillers, microdermabrasion, lasers, and injectables such as Dysport or Botox.

If you are under forty years of age and have substantial loose skin of the face and neck, you can probably undergo a more limited variation of the facelift procedure called a Mini or Mid-facelift.

The best candidate for a facelift is a person whose facial and neck skin has started to sag but whose skin retains some elasticity. Additionally, a good candidate will have a strong, well-defined bone structure.

It is important for patients to be physically and psychologically healthy, have realistic expectations of their surgery, understand the risks and benefits of a facelift, and desire improvement rather than perfection.

Your Face Lift Consultation

During a facelift consultation, Dr. Singer will personally listen to your desires and expectations for your procedure. He will then evaluate your anatomy and physical appearance to create a custom treatment plan that best suits your needs. There is no single technique or single approach that is appropriate for every patient. The goal of your facelift is to improve your overall facial appearance in a natural manner.

The Facelift Procedure

Facelift techniques have evolved significantly over the past 15 years. Prior generations of facelift operations tightened only the skin and ignored important principles of aging and facial structure. Unfortunately, tightening only the skin produced distortions of the facial features and often resulted in an unnatural, flattened, wind-blown, pulled look, as well as a shorter length of efficacy.

Dr. Singer performs a modern multi-vector underlying support facelift that is individualized for your needs and is more precise, more natural, and longer lasting. The supporting deeper tissue – the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) – is tightened, lifting the underlying muscle layers of the cheek and the neck. The fat in the cheek is contoured into an improved position or sculpted if it is excessive.

Dr. Singer will correct the fullness of the upper cheek area below the eyelid by elevating it into a more youthful position, counteracting the direction of the descent of the tissue that occurs with aging. The skin is then redraped without tension, and any excess skin is tailored. He will also address the loose skin, muscle, and fat under the chin and neck if those areas need improvement.

Dr. Singer will perform the entire facelift surgical procedure, which can take 90 minutes to six hours depending on each patient. His focus will be on the success of the surgery, not in how fast he can complete the procedure.

Incisions are placed along the hairline and hidden in the curves around the ear, and there may be a small incision under the chin.

In addition to a full facelift, Dr. Singer also offers the maintenance facelift (mini or mid-facelift), cheek reduction, and secondary facelifts.

Anesthesia at our Accredited Operating Facility

At our AAAASF-accredited (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) private operating facility in La Jolla, you will be taken care of by thoroughly trained personnel, including carefully selected, experienced, board-certified anesthesiologists.

Most of our facelift patients are given a twilight anesthetic, allowing them to sleep while breathing on their own, but usually not requiring deeper general anesthesia. In some cases, Dr. Singer may recommend that you spend a night in the hospital after your surgery. We will discuss these options with you during your consultation.

Recovery from a Facelift

You will be allowed to go home, accompanied by a responsible adult, one to two hours after your facelift surgery. Dr. Singer may suggest you spend the night after surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital which is next door to our office.

Following the procedure, you will have a soft head wrap around your head and under your chin to minimize swelling. Dr. Singer will place drains behind each ear for excess fluid to escape. We will teach you, and you’re caretaker on how to empty these drains every night. We will remove these drains one or two days after surgery in our office. Your bandages will be changed or removed three to five days after surgery.  We will have all your sutures removed within two weeks.

You may experience some bruising and swelling, which should subside dramatically within two days. Applying Arnica Montana topical cream two days before and two days after surgery will help reduce bruising.  Bruising and swelling will continue to subside for three weeks after surgery.

We advise you to sleep on your back for two weeks with your head elevated. This position will help you with swelling and make you more comfortable.

You should avoid strenuous sports and exercise for three weeks, and you should refrain from any other activity that significantly raises your body temperature and blood pressure.

For more information about facelift surgery in La Jolla and San Diego, contact us or call Dr. Singer at 858.455.0290


Where will my facelift incisions be placed?

The placement of incisions varies depending on the extent of the procedure you will be undergoing. Incisions are typically hidden in the hair behind the ear and along the hairline or in the hair above the ear to maintain as much sideburn as possible. Facelift incisions go around the ear and dip inside the ear in the front to help hide the suture lines. Some patients require a short incision beneath the chin to allow access to the neck area to tighten up the muscles in front. Because Dr. Singer places incisions in natural skin creases, facelift incisions heal very well, and most patients and family members will barely notice them after a few weeks.

Will insurance cover the cost of a facelift?

A facelift is a cosmetic procedure and not covered by insurance.

When can I return to the gym after my facelift?

You should avoid aerobic activities after a facelift for three weeks following surgery. Any activity that potentially increases blood pressure will increase the amount of time it takes for postoperative swelling to resolve.

How long will bruising and swelling last?

Postoperative bruising and swelling begin to resolve at the end of the first week. Full resolution of bruising or swelling may take 2-3 weeks. Bruising is variable, and many patients can camouflage bruises easily at seven to ten days with a concealer. Our aestheticians at The Singer Skin Care Center, are available to help patients with this during their recovery period.

I am from out of town. Where can I stay in La Jolla (San Diego)?

Dr. Singer’s entire staff is accustomed to meeting the needs of out-of-town patients. Our patient care coordinator will help you with the necessary travel arrangements, transfers, hotels, pre-operative clearance, and your post-operative care. Dr. Singer will want to see you in person before your plastic surgery to review your case and complete your examination and consultation.

You can stay in any of the excellent hotels in San Diego or La Jolla. Depending on your surgery, you may spend the night of your procedure back at your hotel with a friend or a relative. Additionally, we have nurses that are available for private duty to accompany you to the hotel and remain with you. These nurses are independent contractors and handle their fees separately. Patients with specific medical needs may stay overnight at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, which is next door to our office. Our patient coordinator can assist you in analyzing your options and making the necessary arrangements.

When can I go back to work?

It depends on the type of work you perform. Restrictions from work are ten days to two weeks for a contemporary facelift surgery and may be less for a mini-lift or limited procedure. Since the extent of bruising and swelling and their resolution is individual and not predictable, some patients take three weeks off to be safe.

What are the risks or complications associated with facelift surgery?

No surgical procedure is without risk. Most complications associated with facelift surgery are minor. Here are some possible problems:

  • Collection of blood under the skin (hematoma)
  • Temporary numbness around the ear
  • Depression
  • Asymmetry

Potential but unlikely complications:

  • Infection
  • Poor healing of the skin
  • Loss of a small area of skin (necrosis)
  • Widening or thickening of a scar
  • Injury to the facial nerve

You must enter your surgery understanding the benefits, and the potential complications. Occasionally, a minor revision may be necessary to enhance the final results.

For more information about facelift surgery in La Jolla and San Diego, contact us or call Dr. Singer at 858.455.0290

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