Will a facelift leave visible scars?
Any surgical procedure that involves incisions will leave a scar. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Henstrom are both extremely successful when it comes to hiding the scars that facelifts require in the hairline and behind the ears. During the consultation and preoperative process we will also talk to you about a few factors that can increase your risk of scarring and things you can do to help your scars heal well.
With our traditional facelift you can expect the incision to start in the temporal hairline, comes in front of the ear then behind the cartilage (tragus), up behind the ear and then into the hairline behind the ear. There is also a small incision under the chin that allows our surgeons to perform liposuction, protruding platysma bands and/or chin implant if needed. Our surgeons perform facelift procedures very often and are experts when it comes to carefully closing up the incisions without tension.
Genetics play a factor in the healing process. Some individuals are more prone to keloid scarring. A keloid scar is a raised, enlarged scar that can vary in color. If an individual is prone to keloid scarring, our surgeons will look at existing scars to see how they healed, which will help them determine if they are a candidate for a facelift.
Whether an individual is a smoker or nicotine user can negatively impact how a scar heals. It is crucial that nicotine is stopped at least two weeks before and two weeks after a facelift. Nicotine interferes with the healing process and can increase the risks of complications, such as excessive scarring, skin cell death, reduced blood flow, increases risk of infection, and poor surgical outcome.
Carefully following post operative instructions can also determine how your incisions heal. Following a facelift the sutures come out at different points within a 10 day period. 24 hours after surgery patients are instructed to clean their incisions with hydrogen peroxide and water (50/50), followed by Bacitracin (antibiotic ointment). During the 10 day period, when sutures are removed steri-strips are applied to hold the incision together a bit longer. By doing so, it avoids the risks of “hole” marks in the skin from the sutures.
During the recovery process it is normal for the incision scar to appear pink. Once this coloration passes, the scars will turn white. During the entire recovery process it is extremely important that the sun is kept off the incisions during this time. If you are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time we recommend either wearing a hat or applying sunscreen to both your face and incisions.