Risks Of Facelift Surgery
27 May 2020 onur
All surgical treatments have various complications.
The likelihood of complications and the extent of possible damage from complications determine the “risk” of the procedure.
Before the treatment, the doctor and the patient sit together and decide by putting the expected benefit from the procedure on one side of the scale and the risks of the procedure on the other.
In order to determine the risk-benefit ratio in facelift surgery, it is essential that the patient be informed about the risks of the surgery. In our routine practice, we inform each patient in detail, both verbally and in writing, before the operation.
There are those who think this information is too detailed and thus give up on surgery.
Some complain, saying, “Professor, you are scaring me. Just give me some encouragement.”
There are patients that we do not agree to operate because they present a high risk.
And there are even “crazy ones” who hide their medical risk factors in their preoperative medical history statement just for the sake of having the surgery.
As a basic principle, in order for any procedure to have a place in the medical literature, it must first have a certain safety standard. All time-tested medical and surgical treatments are characterized by high benefits and low risks.
Since “beautification” is the measure of benefit in aesthetic surgery, the risks are expected to be much lower. Indeed, the risks of aesthetic procedures are quite low when compared to other surgical branches.
Facelift surgery is a medical procedure that has passed the test of time, has been standardized, has refined its surgical techniques, has analyzed complications for nearly a century and offers thousands of scientific studies on how to reduce these complications.
However, it has its own risks and complications.
Complications in facelift surgery can be mainly grouped into two.
- Systemic Complications
Complications in this group concern the whole body, not the surgical site. Generally speaking, they are not related to the surgical procedure itself but to the general anesthesia process. Systemic complications include but are not limited to heart attack, vascular occlusion, coagulation disorders and severe allergic reactions. These conditions can be fatal. They can result in grave and irreversible conditions such as paralysis, organ loss and blindness.
What you need to know about systemic complications is that they are extremely rare. Systemic complications of life-threatening severity occur in 1 out of every 10,000-60,000 patients. Systemic complications are often unpredictable and therefore unavoidable. For instance, a 40-year-old patient who is very active and healthy, does sports regularly, has no complaints or no issues in their medical history and is married to a cardiologist may have a heart attack during surgery. However, such a misfortune occurs in 1 out of 30,000 patients with the same background. We don’t perform comprehensive examinations such as coronary angiography, brain tomography and endoscopy in each patient just to eliminate such minuscule possibilities.
The key point in terms of systemic complications is to determine the risk factors before the operation. The risk will increase predictably in patients with “risk factors” in their medical history such as recurrent coagulation disorder, advanced uncontrolled heart disease and organ failure. In this group, it may be necessary to abandon surgery or delay it until the underlying cause is treated. Systemic complications are not related to the experience and meticulousness of the surgeon. Even highly successful plastic surgeons may lose their patients during or after surgery. Systemic complications are a misfortune for not only the patient and their relatives but also the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. Systemic complications are often unpredictable but are treatable when they occur. In the example above, you may not be able to predict that the cardiologist’s healthy wife would have a heart attack, but you can leave the operation unfinished and urgently take the patient to angiography to open the clogged vessel. Therefore, I prefer to perform all my surgeries in fully equipped hospitals with advanced emergency response capabilities.
- Systemic Complications
Surgical complications in facelift surgery include bleeding, infection, suture reactions and wound dehiscence, which may be seen in all surgical procedures. Injuries to facial nerves and muscles may occur during surgery. Tissue circulation disorders and tissue loss may occur. Hair loss or disruption of the hairline may occur. Deformities may emerge around the ear. Scars may be large, raised and noticeable. Skin surface collapses, roughness, excessively tight lines and deflected wrinkles may occur. It is not my purpose here to enumerate all the risks of facelift surgery, but you should know that there are diverse complications. Each of the surgical complications requires dedicated knowledge, care and planning.
Unlike systemic complications, surgical complications can often be partially controlled. The rates of surgical complications decrease markedly as the surgeon’s experience increases. Most of the surgical complications occur in the hands of surgeons who are still at the stage of learning and accumulating experience – no offense. Moreover, this applies not only in aesthetic surgery but also in all surgical branches.
Even in the hands of the most experienced and skilled surgeons, the rate of surgical complications is not “zero”. However, while the total surgical complication rate of a given surgeon is 15-20%, another surgeon’s rate may be 1-2%. Therefore, the most important task of a patient in terms of surgical complications is their choice of surgeon. I recommend that you consider this point before approaching plastic surgery like a “tender” and choosing the cheapest option.
Feel free to contact us to get detailed information about the risks of facelift surgery and to learn about your risk/benefit ratio.
Take good care of yourself, your health and your beauty.