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Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery-SanFrancisco Bay Area|Marin County

How Safe is Face Lift Surgery?

March 27th, 2012 Miguel A. Delgado Jr, MD

Many San Francisco Bay Area patients are concerned about the safety of their rhytidectomy( face lift) surgery. If it is an elective procedure, how much of a risk is it? With tremendous advancements in medicine and anesthesia the risk factor for all surgical procedures is greatly reduced.

The greatest risks for face lift surgery which is the same for most surgical procedures include:

• Bleeding (hematoma)
During recovery it is possible a hematoma may form. A hematoma is when blood collects under the skin with increasing swelling and pressure. In most cases the surgeon would insert a tube to remove excess blood. Typically a hematoma will not impact the result of the surgery. The likelihood of this risk is only about 1% to 5%.

• Infection
Infection from a facelift is rare. Patients are placed on antibiotics before, during and after surgery. Having surgery in a private surgery center such as Dr. Delgado’s “Marin Cosmetic Surgery Center” greatly reduces exposure to infection due to the limited amount of patients, staff, and strict quality control.


• Blood Clots – Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Air travel, inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidence of blood clots. The use of compression stockings can help prevent clots from forming in the veins of the leg.

• Neurological Dysfunction (nerve injury)
After face lift surgery it is very common to experience numbness around the neck and ears. This will improve over the course of a few months as the nerve branches grow back. If a nerve branch is severed during a face lift procedure, permanent interference with muscle animation of the face can occur. In choosing a well qualified Board Certified Plastic Surgeon this complication is extremely rare.

• Anesthesia Complications
Today anesthesia is remarkably safe, there have been dramatic improvements in anesthetic medications, technology and training. The anesthesiologist begins with a thorough pre-operative evaluation checking a patient’s medicalcondition and history. During surgery the anesthesiologist uses several different drugs that are individualized for each patient taking into consideration a patients age and weight among other factors. Having  Board Certified


Anesthesiologist, Dr. Randy Gaynor at Marin Cosmetic Surgery Center insures the patient is getting optimal care.

• Loss of Hair at Incision Site
It is possible to have some hair loss on the areas where the incisions are. Dr. Delgado is very precise in making incisions in natural folds of skin where there may not be hair to cover it.

 Asymmetry (unevenness between the two sides of the face)
Swelling can temporarily make the face look uneven; choosing an experienced Board Certified Plastic surgeon will greatly reduce any likelihood of permanent asymmetry.

There are many things that a patient can do to prepare for face lift surgery, see the blog on our main surgery site here.