For many of us, autumn is an introspective season: It’s a time when we reflect on our growth and maturation while planning for the future. This alone makes fall the perfect occasion to consider having aesthetic plastic surgery; updating your look can be a powerful part of turning over a new leaf. Today’s facelift methods produce graceful, natural results that will honor the person you’ve become while lifting and refining your features. If you’re ready to put your best face forward while staying true to yourself, a personalized facelift might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Beyond the symbolic value of having a facelift during the fall, there are a number of practical reasons why facelift surgery pairs well with cooler weather. Dr. Singer often advises his patients to have this procedure either during October or just after the holidays, for the following reasons:
4 Reasons to Schedule Your Facelift During Fall or Winter
1. Taking time off to recover will probably be easier.
Between spring break activities with the kids, summer vacation, and the winter holidays, most of us don’t get a lot of time to ourselves. The only real lulls of “quiet time” in the year typically occur during early autumn and midwinter (after the holiday rush is over). During these periods, the kids are busy with school, most of us aren’t traveling, and our workplaces are more subdued than usual. Fitting in the 10 to 14 days of rest required after facelift surgery is, therefore, less of a feat of commitment-juggling. Parents also find it easier to arrange follow-up appointments when they know their kids will be in school most of the day.
2. Incision care is simpler when the weather is colder.
Though plastic surgery patients face a lot less stigma than they used to, few people want to advertise the fact that they’ve recently had a facelift. After all, having any procedure—whether it’s medical or cosmetic—is usually a very personal, private matter. This is why many of our patients choose to heal during the colder months: They know that when they go outside, they’ll be able to cover their still-pink incisions with hats and scarves. Likewise, pulling a scarf up over the face is a great way to hide any lingering bruising and swelling.
The cold, dark months confer another important benefit, too: Though many people don’t realize it, sun exposure is the leading preventable cause of visible scarring. When you have plastic surgery, the area around your incisions becomes temporarily more vulnerable to the damaging effects of UV radiation. (This is the case because the skin is more fragile while it’s regenerating.) If you expose still-healing incisions to direct midday sunlight for even a moderate amount of time, you’re running a very real risk of developing thick, dark scar tissue. This risk remains present for a month or longer after having surgery because the dermis (the layer of connective tissue that supports the skin) takes a long time to fully repair itself.
Protecting your face and forehead from sun exposure is both easier and more comfortable during the colder months. Yes, you can cover up with a hat and sunscreen during the summer but doing so encourages forehead perspiration. This sweat can exacerbate the normal itching that accompanies the healing process. During autumn and winter, we’re not only cooler (even under layers of hats and scarves), the glands in our skin that produce sweat and oil actually become less active. This greatly reduces irritation, making recovery a much less frustrating experience.
The angle of the sun’s rays can also work in your favor during autumn and winter: If you live at a higher latitude, you’ll benefit from the tilting of the earth that occurs during the cooler months. While the earth is tilted away from the sun, harmful UVB rays are unable to reach the earth’s surface. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to cover your incisions—UVA radiation hits the earth all year long, no matter where you live—it just means you won’t have to panic if you forget to reapply your sunscreen on time. You’ll also have the option of running errands in the evening when it’s dark because the tilt of the earth makes the days significantly shorter.
3. You can stock up on rest and relaxation.
Unless you’re a die-hard extrovert, you probably find the holiday season a bit overwhelming (no matter how much fun it is). Having to spend a couple of weeks at home recovering from surgery can work to your advantage: If you schedule your surgery in January, you’ll be able to catch up on some much-needed post-holiday sleep. If you schedule your facelift in the fall, you can use the rest period to center yourself before the mayhem of the holidays gets truly underway.
4. You can time your results perfectly.
You’ll probably be surprised to learn that facelift recovery isn’t that uncomfortable. With the use of prescription pain medication, most people report experiencing only three to five days of mild soreness (and usually only when they move their face). The reason we recommend taking 10 to 14 days off work is actually cosmetic in nature: Symptoms of swelling and bruising tend to last for about two weeks, and most of our patients don’t want to return to work looking they’ve been injured.
Still, though the initial recovery period that follows facelift surgery is generally brief, the results of this procedure can take a while to fully “settle.” After you have a facelift, your skin, facial muscles, and the tissues that connect them need time to adjust to their new position. While these tissues are still falling healing, your face may look slightly stiff or asymmetrical and have decreased sensation in some areas. There is further subtle improvement over the next several months
Knowing this, you can time your results so that they integrate perfectly with your existing plans. If you intend to go on holiday in the spring or summer, for example, you should plan to have your procedure no later than mid-January. If you want to look your best in time for Christmas, consider arranging your consultation no later than November first.
How to Prepare for Facelift Surgery
Regardless of when you plan to have surgery, it’s important that you know how to prepare for your procedure. Having any kind of surgery is a big decision, so you should always “do your homework” before you pick up the phone to book a consultation. To help you get ready for your facelift, we’ve compiled a list of the preparatory steps we feel every patient should consider taking:
1. If you haven’t had a physical recently, see your doctor.
When performed on a healthy individual, facelift surgery is very low-risk. However, common health conditions—like cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes—can increase your risk of complications. Likewise, many medications (including over the counter medications and supplements) can interfere with your ability to safely have surgery. As such, you should visit your doctor before having any kind of invasive surgery. Inform him (or her) of your plans, review the medications you’re taking, and take any necessary blood tests to rule out possible medical conditions.
2. Take a look at your lifestyle.
Next to medical issues, lifestyle factors are the number one cause of surgical complications. Smoking is particularly dangerous for surgical patients: Because smoking tobacco limits the amount of available oxygen in the blood, it impairs the body’s ability to heal itself. This leads to delayed wound healing and an increased risk of infection. Smokers also tend to develop more noticeable scars. If you smoke, you’ll have to quit at least two weeks before you have facelift surgery. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation aids if you feel that quitting “cold turkey” might be too difficult. Using a nicotine patch or vaporizer can lower your risk of complications.
We also advise our patients to limit their alcohol intake and eat a healthy diet in the months leading up to surgery. Doing so will strengthen your immune system and increase your energy levels, making it easier for you to bounce back after having surgery.
3. Research the different types of facelift surgery.
Not everyone needs a conventional “full” facelift, so it’s important to understand the different forms of facelift surgery that are available today. More extensive surgical methods, like the deep plane facelift and the SMAS lift, are intended for use on patients who have more advanced signs of skin laxity. If you’re between the ages of 35 to 50, you may be a better candidate for a type of modified facelift procedure known as the mini or “mid” facelift. There are a variety of mini facelifts that can address limited areas of aging and require shorter incisions which in some patients can be hidden within the hairline. (Full facelift surgery, on the other hand, requires the creation of incisions around the hairline and ears. Additional incisions may be made on the neck and eyelids, if those areas will also benefit from improvement.
During a mini facelift, the muscles of the SMAS are lifted; this raises the cheeks and reduces the appearance of jowls. Most facelifts also incorporate dermal fillers or micro-fat grafts to improve loss of volume and Botox. These injectable treatments smooth out crow’s feet and smile lines quickly and easily.
The mini facelift is preferable (where appropriate) because it may require less healing time. It also produces very subtle, natural-looking results when used on younger patients because it doesn’t significantly tighten the skin. Older patients and those with more tissue laxilty may feel that the results of this procedure are underwhelming. Most people over the age of 55 need to have at least some excess skin removed to significantly erase visible sagging.
4. Make a recovery plan.
The best way to ensure a comfortable healing period is to start planning your recovery as soon as you’re sure you want surgery. Prepare to book at least two weeks off work and discuss your decision with your loved ones. You’ll need someone to drive you home from the hospital and look after you for three to five days, so having the support of someone you trust is essential. You should also plan to stock up on soft foods and buy a few extra pillows. If you avoid solid food for at least a week after your operation and stay propped up in bed, you’ll be a lot more comfortable.
Arrange a Facelift Consultation in La Jolla
Autumn is fast drawing to a close, so if you want to look your best in time for Christmas, you should arrange a facelift consultation now. Contact Dr. Singer online or via telephone at 858.455.0290 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Singer will be happy to answer any questions you have and develop a surgical plan that works with your lifestyle.