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Watch Video: Facelift

Rhytidectomy is the technical term for repositioning tissues of the face and neck— commonly called a facelift. Facial aging is the result of changes in the skin, fat, and muscle of the face. The decrease and shift of facial volume from the cheeks to the lower third of the face is responsible for the onset of cheek hollowing, deepening of the nasolabial folds, and the loss of jaw and neck definition over time. A facelift repositions the tissues of the face and neck to restore the contours and appearance of a more youthful or fresher face. Many areas of the face are improved: sagging, loose tissues of the midface, deep folds of loose skin at the sides of the nose and mouth, jowls or loss of definition of the jawline, and excess fat or loose skin causing loss of definition in the neck area. Visible banding of the platysma neck muscle below the chin can be corrected to provide additional improvement of the neck contour.

Dr. Forley brings over 20 years of expertise in the most advanced facelift techniques to his patients. Starting with a coveted fellowship in aesthetic surgery with Dr. Bruce Connell in California, Dr. Forley has developed a reputation for an unsurpassed attention to detail and precision in performing his facelifts. He has been recognized by his peers annually in the selection process for the Castle Connolly “Top Doctors” guide. His incisions are designed to optimally conceal your scars with tightening of the deep layer, known as the SMAS, producing the most natural, long-lasting results. He was an early proponent of the MACS-Lift “short scar” technique, which uses a series of sutures, woven through the deep fibrous layer of the face, to enable volume restoration of the cheeks and improvement of the nasolabial folds, jowls, jawline, and neck with natural, long lasting results. Dr. Forley also offers a comprehensive laser and skin care program to enhance the results of surgery by improving the quality of your skin.

61 year old female discusses her facelift experience *Results may vary.

Is This For Me?

You should consider a facelift if:

  • Your face makes you look older than your actual age or older than you feel.
  • You want to restore your confidence and both feel and look more youthful.
  • Your face and neck have sagging and other significant signs of aging.
  • You have benefited from non-surgical treatments but have reached a stage where a more natural, youthful appearance is best achieved surgically

The Consultation

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Dr. Forley will discuss your individual concerns during your consultation and demonstrate the degree of correction you can expect in each area. He will explain the aging process and the reasons for performing the procedures he may recommend to you. In many cases, some or all of the facial procedures you desire can be performed in one stage. Dr. Forley always attempts to use the smallest and most well concealed incisions possible. He will explain how natural looking results can be achieved with advanced surgical techniques through limited incisions. You will have the opportunity to review before and after photographs of Dr. Forley’s patients to give you an idea of the type of aesthetic outcome that typifies his approach toward surgery.

58 year old female discusses her experience with facelift and upper & lower eyelid surgery. *Results may vary.


Your pre-operative appointment will be scheduled 2 weeks prior to your surgery date. A complete review of the surgical plan as well as instructions for you to follow before and after surgery will be discussed. Medical clearance, including blood tests and cardiac testing as needed, will be obtained from your primary care doctor in preparation for your surgery. A program of vitamins and supplements to optimize your healing and recovery will be provided to you during your pre-op visit. Dr. Forley advocates a customized skin care regimen prior to and following surgery for all his patients and this will also be discussed. Photographs will be taken and kept strictly confidential.

Tatler discussed Dr. Forley in its 2008 Beauty and Cosmetic Surgery Guide as one of the "A-list of cosmetic surgeons"..."who are at the top of their game"...and whose "innovations are shaping the art of cosmetic surgery around the world." It was noted that Dr. Forley's "discreet Upper East Side clinic is perfect for women and men in search of minimally invasive natural-looking surgery.”

The Procedure

Dr. Forley will carefully mark the incision sites and answer any last minute questions. The anesthesiologist will then review with you the twilight/sedation technique that is utilized exclusively in the Joint Commission accredited office surgical suite. Incisions for a facelift are designed to be minimally apparent following the healing process. They are carefully concealed within the hair in the area of the temples, in skin creases paralleling the curve of the ear, and behind the tragal cartilage edge of the ear. This is the extent of the incision in the MACS- Lift “short scar” technique performed by Dr. Forley. The incision is extended behind the ear and into the hair of the scalp when there is significant skin excess of the neck that needs to be improved.

To reposition your facial tissues, skin and deeper layers of the face are first very carefully mobilized. The deep SMAS layer is tightened to lift the sagging tissues and create a natural restoration of the youthful contours of the face. Fat grafts may be added to augment the loss of volume that often accompanies the aging changes in the face. In the neck, banding or visible thickening of the midline neck muscles is corrected to provide better support and optimal contour to the neck. Excess or malpositioned fatty tissue may be sculpted using small suction tubes to further improve the result.

After redraping the skin, excess is removed and the incisions are carefully closed to produce fine, minimally apparent scars.

What to Expect After Your Procedure

Recovery from plastic surgical procedures progresses steadily but varies slightly from person to person. Pain is usually minor and patients frequently do not require more than a few doses of pain medication following surgery.

A protective turban-style head wrap is used for 1-2 days. Compression is not used as it actually increases the amount of swelling you might experience. In most cases, a drain is used overnight to remove any post-operative oozing of blood so that there will be less bruising. Dr. Forley will remove the drain the following day when he changes your dressing.

74 year old female 3 years following facelift and endoscopic browlift, 2 years following upper and lower eyelid surgery and Fraxel® laser series *Results may vary.

You will be able to wash your hair within 2 days. Sutures are removed at about 5 days and 8-10 days.

You’ll feel some tightness in the neck area following surgery. This assures that you’ll have the best possible long term result. Most of the tight feeling resolves in the first few weeks.

Temporary numbness of the face and neck skin is normal after facelift surgery.

The Stages of Recovery

  • Day of surgery: May be performed as an outpatient procedure in our accredited office surgery suite. A nurse can be booked to monitor you overnight.
  • Bruising and swelling resolve: Most improvement occurs in the first 1-2 weeks with continued improvement occurring for several months. Minor changes may continue to occur for up to 1 year.
  • Sensation returns: A gradual process that occurs over 6-12 months.
  • Return to work, social activity: Average is 2 weeks.
  • Aerobic or strenuous activity: 14-21 days.

We encourage a return to activity in the early post-operative period. Just don’t do any type of strenuous exercise that would push your pulse over 100 for about two to three weeks. Any aerobic activity that increases your pulse over 100 also increases your blood pressure, and could make you bleed.

Potential Risks and Complications

Risks common to all surgical procedures such as bleeding, infection and thickened scar tissue occur in a very small percentage of cases. There is a rarely occurring risk of affecting nerves that control facial movement. Dr. Forley will discuss the risks of facelift surgery in more detail with you during your consultation.

We encourage you to discuss any concerns you may have during your consultation. 
If you have hypertension or high blood pressure, it must be properly controlled prior to surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding. We will coordinate this with your primary care physician.

Facelift procedures involve more risk in smokers. Nicotine causes constriction of blood vessels that supply the skin, reducing blood flow, and increasing the risk of skin loss. If you are a smoker, Dr. Forley will make specific recommendations to you to reduce those risks.

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1. Facelift surgery makes a patient look unnatural. An unnatural "wind tunnel" look is the result of excessive horizontal tension on the skin itself. Natural, unoperated results are achieved with techniques that use the layer deep to the skin, known as the SMAS, to lift and reposition sagging tissues of the face and neck in a superior and oblique direction. The obvious appearance of an unnatural look makes the prevalence of this outcome seem much greater than its true occurrence. 2. It requires a long recovery time. Recovery occurs in stages. The initial post-operative stage of bruising and swelling is usually sufficiently improved by 2-3 weeks for most social or business activities. However, the healing process continues to occur for up to 1 year but these are more minor changes. 3. Only women get facelift surgery. Increasingly more men have been taking advantage of the benefits of plastic surgery. The recent demographic trend in cosmetic procedures has been in the range of 15-20% men with facelifts a part of the choices available to help men look their best as they get older. 4. If I do surgery now, I will just have to do it again later. Timing is everything! The philosophy of waiting until the aging process has progressed to its maximum degree of sagging before doing anything about it has been replaced by intervening at an earlier stage so that the transformation will appear more gradual and less drastic. Frequently, the skin and deep tissues are of better quality in patients in their 50's than in their 70's resulting in a longer lasting result. A program of diet and exercise, skin care, and maintenance tightening treatments like Ultherapy® can prolong the benefits of surgery. Remember, surgery doesn't stop the clock but you will always look better 10 years following a facelift than if you waited and did nothing. 5. If I just keep doing fillers, I won't need facelift surgery. Injectable fillers and the concept of volume replacement in the aging face have been of tremendous benefit in our efforts to achieve a more youthful appearance for our patients. However, fillers can be counterproductive when excessive expansion of the cheek is performed in an effort to lift the lower face. There comes a point where the most natural result will be produced by facelift surgery and not by more and more fillers.
  • New York Magazine Best Doctors 2012
  • Castle Connolly Guide-Top Doctors: New York Metro Area
  • dr. Forley in the media TA TLER
  • New York Super Doctors

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