Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker

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FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

You may be confused about which areas of concern can be addressed. You may be fearful of risks and costs of plastic surgery. These are perfectly normal things to consider and they are why we are here to help you. Please look at some common questions and our answers to them to help you make a more informed decision.

What is a facelift?

The facelift, also referred to as rhytidectomy or cervicofacial rhytidectomy, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to rejuvenate the lower face and upper neck, providing a more youthful and rested appearance. It’s important to note that a traditional or standard facelift rejuvenates only the lower one-third of the face whereas a ‘full facelift’ would include a brow lift, blepharoplasty and midface lift in addition to a lower facelift in order to rejuvenate the brow, eyelids, midface and lower face.

Is Dr. Elizabeth board certified?

Yes, Atlanta Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker has board certification from both the
American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology.

Am I a good candidate for a facelift?

Click here to answer a few questions that will help you determine if you are a good candidate.

Are there less invasive or even non-surgical techniques that could fulfill (or perhaps partially, but adequately, fulfill) my needs?

Yes, there are many other non-surgical options that are available from Atlanta Face & Body, including dermal fillers, Botox®, laser options and more.
All of these options can be discussed during your initial free consultation

Do you have before and after photos of facelifts you have done?

Yes, click here to see out Before & After photo library.

Will I be meeting with Dr. Elizabeth during every visit?

The initial free consultation is normally held with one of our Patient Care Coordinators but individual consultations with Dr. Elizabeth are available at an additional price.

Are there any lab tests and/or health clearances required before I have this surgery?

Are there any limitations to what a face lift can achieve?

Because a traditional or standard facelift targets the lower one-third of the face and the upper neck, patients should not expect the facelift to impact the forehead and brow position, the appearance of the eyelids, or the midface area. These areas may be better treated with a browlift, blepharoplasty, and/or midface lift. In addition, the facelift will not correct deep smile lines termed nasolabial folds which are better treated with a midface lift and/or volume enhancement with filler injections.

Where is the face lift procedure performed?

On site at Atlanta Face & Body.

How is the face lift performed?

The Signature Facelift™ is a less invasive approach to facelift surgery. By minimizing incisions and elevation, Dr. Elizabeth achieves a more natural, refreshed and youthful look, as opposed to the over-pulled appearance that often accompanies an attempt at looking overly young. In addition, the less invasive approach of the Signature Lift often leads to a faster, enhanced recovery.

Through incisions located just behind the hairline, starting near the temples, and around the front of the ear, hidden in the natural folds, a cosmetic surgeon can reposition the deeper tissues beneath the skin and remove excess skin to smooth creases, eliminate jowling and sagging skin under the chin, and restore a naturally youthful contour to the face and neck.

How long does the face lift take to perform?

The standard or lower face lift typically takes four to six hours to complete.
(The Mini-Lift, which is less invasive can be completed in three to four hours)

Where are the incisions made for a face lift?

The incisions for the facelift are strategically placed and generally well-concealed in and around the natural curves of the ear and extending into the hairline behind the ear. A slightly modified incision in front of the ear is usually required for male facelift patients. In these cases, the incision is placed more along the border of the bearded facial skin, ensuring that hair-bearing skin is not lifted onto the ear where it can create problems with shaving after surgery. An additional short incision is made hidden beneath the chin if there is an excess of fat beneath the chin or if the front of the neck is going to be tightened along with the lower face (during a platysmaplasty).

Are there scars after a facelift?

While the incisions made for the facelift will result in scars, they are generally well-concealed in and around the natural curves of the ear and extending into the hairline behind the ear. In some cases, an additional short incision is made in a well-concealed location beneath the chin. Once healed, facelift incisions are very difficult to see.

Is the facelift a painful procedure?

Any pain or discomfort that patients experience after the facelift is usually not significant and is well controlled with low-dose prescription medication. Facelift surgery is often described as being more uncomfortable than painful.

What is the recovery like after a facelift?

Because Dr. Elizabeth’s Signature Facelift™ procedures are designed to be less invasive than a traditional facelift, recovery times are generally shorter. You will miss some work, and will need to avoid strenuous activity as you heal. Since each procedure is customized, Dr. Elizabeth and her staff will provide you with a detailed recovery plan that allows you to resume normal activities as quickly as possible–and gives you the best long-term results.

Are there risks or complications with the face lift?

As with all types of surgery, there are potential risks associated with the facelift. The risk of infection and bleeding are very low provided that patients follow instructions to stop taking blood thinners for two weeks prior to surgery and discontinue smoking for at least two to three before and after surgery. As with any surgery performed on the face, there is a potential risk of damaging the facial nerve. This is the nerve that helps control movement on that side of the face and there are five separate branches that can be injured individually or altogether. Because these branches happen to run along a predictable path below the SMAS and platysma layers, there is very little risk of damaging the facial nerve as long as the surgery does not extend too deep below these layers. In some cases, temporary weakness can be seen in select branches of the facial nerve due to swelling and bruising near the nerve. This recovers fully in nearly all cases and only rarely does permanent damage of the facial nerve develop. There is also a chance that patients may experience numbness around the ear resulting from injury to the great auricular nerve, which runs adjacent to the platysma layer. In most cases, numbness is temporary due to bruising of the nerve and permanent numbness of the great auricular nerve is fortunately quite rare after facelift surgery. Despite excellent technique by the surgeon, some patients may still develop unfavorable scars. This is related more to the patient’s inherent ability to heal and form scars rather than the surgeon’s ability to close the incisions properly. This may manifest several weeks after surgery as slightly raised or deeply red scars. In most cases, management with topical or injectable steroids will help calm down this process and improve the appearance of these scars.

Does insurance cover the face lift procedure?

The facelift is generally not covered by insurance when performed for cosmetic reasons alone.

Who do I contact after surgery if I have questions or concerns?

You can contact your Patient Care Consultant at any time during business hours for any questions or concerns you may have.

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