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Explore Facial Plastic Surgery in Richmond by Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Matthew Stanwix

As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and the daily stress of life can be seen in their faces.  The face is the central part of the body that shows "age;"  It is key to looking and feeling younger. Facial Plastic Surgeon and Cosmetic Surgery Expert Dr. Matthew G. Stanwix has the experience, training, outcomes,  and advanced techniques to help women and men look and feel younger.  Dr. Stanwix calls this process of turning back the clock as "Aging Gracefully."  Keep reading to learn more on how our plastic surgeon in Richmond uses advanced facial surgery to improve patients' appearance and self-confidence then schedule your consultation with Dr. Stanwix today!

Why Consider Facial Surgery?

Nothing can completely stop the process of aging. There are a number of treatments to reverse facial aging. They include non-invasive topical medicines, lasers, and injections to temporize the effects of ageing. Many patients present to Dr. Stanwix desiring a more aggressive, permanent solution to the effects of aging. Dr. Matthew Stanwix offers a number of surgical procedures to address the face, forehead, eyelids, and neck.

A facelift (technically known as rhytidectomy) cannot stop the aging process, but can "set back the clock," and improve the most visible signs of aging. Individuals who undergo a facelift find that they appear more rested; as if they just went on a long and relaxed vacation. This is accomplished by removing excess skin and redraping the remainder, tightening underlying muscles, and repositioning the fat in the face. A facelift can be done alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as a forehead lift (brow lift), eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), chin augmentation, and nose reshaping (rhinoplasty). Oftentimes, Dr. Matthew Stanwix adds volume through facial fat injections, a novel and cutting edge technique that replaces the fat that is lost with time, giving an “reinflated” youthful look.

In decades past, facelift operations attempted to pull the face tight, often times giving a windblown, artificial appearance. Dr. Matthew Stanwix uses modern techniques that give a more nature, proportional rejuvenation. Dr. Stanwix believes a modern facelift should attempt to reposition the facial tissues to a more lifted, youthful position, and restore volume to the deflated face. Do you want to see previous photos?  View his natural facelift results in the photo gallery now.

If you're considering a facelift, this page will give you a basic understanding of the procedure: when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. Dr. Stanwix at Stanwix Plastic Surgery will be pleased to answer all of your detailed questions during your consultation.

Am I a Candidate for a Face Lift?

The ideal candidate for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, obscuring the jaw angle through the creating of jowls and marionette lines. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but facelifts can be done successfully on people in their seventies or eighties. A facelift will make you look younger, fresher, and rejuvenated. While a facelift may enhance your self-confidence, it can't give you a totally different face, nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth. Also, it will not remove the fine lines or wrinkles; for this the doctors at Dr. Stanwix may recommend a chemical peel or laser resurfacing treatments as an adjunct.

Surgical face, brow, eyelid and neck lifting address the following signs of facial ageing:

  • Sagging of the central face
  • Thicken nasolabial folds (laugh lines) and jowling
  • Poorly defined jaw line
  • Laxity of the neck with an obscured neck line
  • Hollow check areas
  • Sagging of the brow
  • Excess skin and sagging of the upper and lower eyelids

Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with the Dr. Stanwix . Dr. Stanwix listens carefully to your expectations and concerns and implements his medical expertise and experience into addressing them. Most importantly, he will discuss his main objective of facelift surgery: to create a natural, more youthful appearance, while avoiding the lateral sweep or “wind blown” look. Dr. Stanwix strives to always provide this in a safe and reliable fashion.

The face must be seen as a full unit, and in order to create optimal surgical results and a youthful appearance, all areas of the face must be considered. Often, correcting the problems associated with facial ageing in one area will cause the other areas to be much more noticeable. Think of it as an outfit. If someone updates the dress or suit they are wearing, their overall appearance improves. However, if they fail to change their outdated jewelry, shoes, belt, etc., then these areas will standout. The overall improvement will be severely hindered by lack of accessory updating. One can imagine that similar to clothing, the facial areas are connected and age together. Although, one area of the face may age faster, it is important to approach a youthful rejuvenation of the facial components together. The lower eyelids flow into the cheek, which connects to the lower face, and finally into the neck. It is very common to perform multiple procedures together to approach all aspects of a complete facial rejuvenation.

What to Expect During Facelift Surgery

A facelift takes Dr. Stanwix approximately two and a half to three hours to perform. However, facelifts are often combined with other facial procedures and the overall time depends on the number of areas addressed. Incisions begin hidden in the sideburn area and extend in a natural line in front of the ear. It then courses in back of the small cartilage at the front of the ear (tragus), and continues behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. All of these incisions have been proven to be well hidden and concealed. If the neck needs tightening, a small incision may also be made under the chin.

Dr. Stanwix separates the skin from the fatty tissue and muscle layer below. A critical part of the facelift procedure is to tighten the underlying deep layer of facial tissues. This layer is called the SMAS (the superficial muscular aponeurotic system). The SMAS layer is essentially the layer of muscle that gives expression to the face. Dr. Stanwix tightens this layer by performing maneuvers called a lateral SMASectomy or SMAS plication. He knows that each face is different, and thus pulls the direction of tissue in different directions, called “individualized vector analysis.” By doing so, he recruits the sagging fat and musculature and raise it back to its youthful position and reestablish volume in the cheek area. This is critical in obtaining proper lift and returning volume to the face. By tightening and lifting the deeper layers, Dr. Stanwix gives an excellent, natural, long lasting result. Lastly, the skin is redraped over the face and any excess is removed. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions.

 A light dressing to protect and secure the skin and incisions is then placed carefully over the face.

After Surgery

There isn't usually significant discomfort after facial cosmetic surgery; if there is, it can be lessened with the pain medication prescribed. You face may feel slightly tight, puffy, and bruised. This usually resolves quickly in 5 to 7 days. Dr. Stanwix will prescribe analgesics (Percocet or dilaudid), antibiotics, and medicine for nausea (Zofran or phenergan). Dr. Stanwixs’ team will go over each medicine prescribed before surgery so you are comfortable with your medications after surgery.

If you are admitted to the hospital over night, you will receive your medications intravenously. Pain medication, antibiotics, and nausea medicines will be given by the route. You will be monitored closely overnight and a qualified nurse will take good care of you. Dr. Stanwix will then see you early the next morning to check on your progress. Bandages will be changed and any medication adjustments will be made. Once you are feeling well you will be discharged later in the day.  If you have a more minor procedure, you will be discharges home after surgery. You will then be seen in the office the next day and your dressing will be removed.

After surgery it is important to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery to help with the swelling. Don't be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you'll be back to normal and look like a new younger you.

Most of your stitches will be removed after about five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches or metal clips in your hairline could be left in a few days longer. 

Feeling Normal Again 

You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair, since your skin will be both tender and numb, and may not respond normally at first. It is important to not place ice or heat on for prolonged lengths of time, as your skin is too numb to alarm you of impending discomfort.

Dr. Stanwix will give more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. He suggests: Avoiding strenuous activity, including sex and heavy housework for at least two weeks (walking and mild stretching are encouraged); avoiding alcohol, steam baths, and saunas for several months. Above all, get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing.

At the beginning, your face may look and feel odd. Your features may be distorted from the swelling, your facial movements may be slightly stiff and your incisions will be slightly red. Some bruising may persist for two or three weeks, and you may tire easily.

By the third week, you'll look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If you need it, special camouflage makeup can mask most bruising that remains.

Your New Appearance

You will be excited with the youthful transition and new, younger, more rested you. Remember that the results may not be immediately apparent because of swelling and natural healing. Most of the swelling will resolve in 3 to 4 weeks, but a small percentage may take 3 months or more to completely resolve.

You will have some scars from your facelift, but will be well hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your face and ears. In any case, they'll fade within time and will be scarcely visible.

Having a facelift does not stop the clock, it just turns it back. Your face will continue to age with time, and you may want to repeat the procedure one or more times-perhaps around ten years down the line. But in another sense, the effects of even one facelift are lasting; years later, you will continue to look much better than if you had never had a facelift at all.