A facelift (also known as a rhytidectomy) is a cosmetic procedure to tighten and smooth, slackened or loose facial and neck skin. Facelift surgery is carried out under a general anaesthetic and requires a one to two night stay in hospital. It is usually performed for cosmetic reasons, but there may also be some medical reasons that would necessitate having the procedure. There are various techniques that surgeons can use to perform this operation, and you will be advised which is the most appropriate in your case.

While many people are content to live with the natural appearance of their face, others choose to use the services of a plastic surgeon to help improve their appearance with a facelift. Should you be considering this type of cosmetic surgery, it is sensible to talk through your thoughts and feelings with a competent medical professional and explain your reasons for wanting surgery. We would be very happy to arrange an initial appointment for you with a surgeon at your nearest Circle hospital, where you can discuss the potential surgical options available to you and ask any questions you have.

As you would expect, all Circle surgeons carrying out facelift surgery are suitably qualified and registered with the appropriate professional and regulatory bodies. They would be delighted to meet with you to discuss the suitability of facelift surgery for you, and to talk through the implications, things to be aware of and any alternative options available to you. Contact the team at Circle to arrange your appointment, at a time convenient to you.

As part of the natural aging process, skin loses its elasticity and muscles can become less tight. When these changes begin to show in and around the face and neck area, it can cause wrinkles, drooping eyebrows and loose folds of skin to develop. These physical changes can make you appear older than you would like.  

There are any number of reasons why you might feel dissatisfied with the appearance of your face, and this can sometimes have a significant impact on your mental well-being, confidence and self-esteem. This may lead you to consider a facelift as a surgical solution.

Aside from cosmetic reasons, you might consider getting a facelift:

  • To reduce the appearance of a facial deformity,
  • To restore your facial appearance following a disease or illness that has caused disfigurement.

Some of the common reasons people choose to have a facelift include:

  • Significant wrinkles, often the result of a loss of tone in the facial muscles due to aging,
  • Sagging skin around the face, caused by a loss of tone and elasticity in the muscles,
  • Reduced definition in and around the chin and neck, caused by an excess of loose skin,
  • Droopy cheeks around the mouth, often caused by excess loose skin,
  • Improving a “tired” appearance to your face. As part of the natural aging process, our faces inevitably start to show the effects of time, with a loss of muscle tone and elasticity. A facelift can help improve the appearance of your skin by removing these wrinkles and loose skin. 

Whatever your reasons for considering a facelift, it is important that you are aware of what can be achieved through surgery as well as what cannot be achieved. While a facelift can improve the appearance, it will not remove any other problems or challenges you may be experiencing in your life. A facelift can give you a more youthful appearance, but it cannot turn the clock back and actually make you younger. Having a good understanding of what can and can’t be achieved from a facelift is vital before making a decision whether to have surgery, and you will have the opportunity to discuss the benefits of a facelift with a Circle consultant at your initial consultation. 

A facelift is a cosmetic procedure to tighten and smooth, loose facial and neck skin. Facelift surgery is carried out under a general anaesthetic and requires a one to two-night stay in hospital.

There are various techniques that surgeons use to perform this operation. Some approaches improve the appearance of the lower part of the face, while others can improve the upper part (if you have ‘laughter lines’ around your eyes, your surgeon will usually adapt their technique to ensure these are smoothed out during the procedure). Your surgeon will advise which is the most appropriate in your case.

For a typical facelift, the surgeon will make an incision high in the temple area (this will be above your hairline so that it will be hidden by your hair following surgery). The incision follows the curve in front of the ear, down under and around the earlobe and then up behind the ear, before gently curving back into the hair again. An incision may also be made under the chin if the operation includes lifting a sagging jawline.

Once these incisions have been made, the facial skin is then carefully separated from the muscles of the face and any excess fat removed. The facial muscles are then tightened and, in some cases, re-draped in order to provide the best appearance. Sometime, fat and/or tissue is moved around to alter the appearance. Any excess facial skin is removed and then the remaining skin is pulled upwards and backwards to give a new smoothness to the facial skin. Once the surgery is complete, all the incisions made are closed, with sutures used around the ear and surgical clips used in the hair. Bandages are then placed around the face to help minimise bruising and/or swelling.

Sometimes, the muscles and skin around the neck will be stretched and stitched in place, and this is known as a necklift. A facelift and necklift can be carried out at the same time if required.

Before undergoing any cosmetic surgery, it is important to consider all other options and ensure your decision to have surgery has been sufficiently thought out. For this reason, your consultant will generally recommend waiting a few weeks between your initial appointment and your surgery, so as to give you ample time to do all the research you need, letting you make the best decision for you.

Having a facelift requires a certain level of understanding and maturity, as it is important you appreciate the change it will make, both in physical appearance and psychological effect. There is no upper age limit, as long as you are physically fit enough to withstand the demands of surgery. The main determining factor for a successful facelift is the tone and elasticity of the skin on your face. Should the skin be very thin, optimal results may not be achieved.  

For your surgery to go ahead, you should ensure you are in good physical and mental health. Undertaking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and being at a healthy weight can all play an important role in the results of surgery and your recovery afterwards. Your GP will be able to assist you if you are struggling in any of these areas, so do contact them if you feel you would benefit from expert help and support.

We always advise smokers to stop smoking several weeks beforehand, as smoking can increase the risk of complications and can slow down the rate of recovery from surgery. While we appreciate that this can be challenging, nicotine in cigarettes causes your blood vessels to tighten, which means the supply of blood and oxygen to the affected tissues is restricted. This can prevent your body from healing itself at the expected rate. If applicable, you may also be advised to stop taking the contraceptive pill four-six weeks prior to your operation, as doing so reduces your risk of developing a blood clot.

When considering a facelift, expert guidance and help should be sought. At this stage, we recommend you locate your most convenient Circle hospital, as this will usually determine which cosmetic surgeon you ultimately decide upon for your facelift. With hospitals in Bath, Reading, and Birmingham, we are well-positioned around the country, and whichever Circle hospital and surgeon you choose, your surgery will be carried out efficiently, safely, and competently by a specialist in the field.

Your initial consultation will be held in one of our comfortable, modern consultation rooms to help put you at ease. This preliminary discussion will be key in helping you and your surgeon make an informed decision on how best to proceed. They will be able to provide you with an expert, non-judgemental and compassionate platform to talk openly and honestly about your aims and goals for facelift surgery, discussing what it is that troubles you about your face and why you are considering a facelift. They will help you understand what is achievable through surgery alone.

We know that it can be challenging sometimes to talk through your thoughts and feelings about your face and a possible facelift, but it is important to be honest with your surgeon at this stage about what you hope to gain from facelift surgery and how you want to look once the procedure is complete. Depending on this consultation, it is possible that your surgeon will advise you against surgery if it is not deemed necessary or appropriate for you. There may be alternatives to surgery that they will be able to recommend for you instead.

Should facelift surgery be deemed appropriate for you, at this point your surgeon will often take photos of your face and head from different angles. These can then be referenced during surgery, and also give you a way of comparing your “before” and “after” facial appearance once surgery is completed.

You may also undergo a physical examination, possibly at the same time, so that your surgeon can start to plan the potential method of surgery. On occasion, they may require additional diagnostic tests or scans, and your surgeon will advise you if any further assessments are needed and will then help to arrange these without delay.

You will be asked for your medical history, particularly in relation to your face, skin and respiratory function, covering areas such as:

  • Allergies,
  • Facial trauma or injury in the past,
  • Any breathing difficulties you may have experienced,
  • Drug use.

This will help determine what kind of facelift surgery you are suitable for and will allow your surgeon to highlight any potential problem areas. Every facelift is different, so your surgeon will be looking to tailor their surgical approach to your specific needs, taking into account the unique qualities of your facial features.

Before the procedure, your consultant will see you for a second appointment to assess your individual condition, discuss your needs, goals and intended outcomes for surgery in case anything has changed for you, and decide on the most suitable type of facelift surgery for you. This will also provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the procedure or your recovery, and your surgeon can help ease any concerns that may have arisen along the way.

Typical questions you may find yourself asking include:

  • How long will the surgery take?
  • What happens after my facelift? What aftercare do you offer?
  • How long should I expect my recovery to take?
  • What anaesthetic will you be using?
  • What happens if the facelift surgery goes wrong?
  • What level of pain will there be after my operation?

No concern or question is too small; cosmetic surgery is a big undertaking and all our consultants appreciate that patients may be understandably apprehensive before the operation.

As with any surgery, it is important to make sure your preferred surgeon has the necessary qualifications and is registered with the usual regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council Specialist Register. All our surgeons at our Circle hospitals are registered with the appropriate bodies and comply with all relevant regulations, and you can verify this on the Care Quality Commission (CQC) database.

Your surgeon may also ask you to think about how you will get home after surgery, as you will be not be permitted to drive. You will therefore need to make other arrangements, preferably with someone available to accompany you home and stay with you throughout the first night.

Your surgeon will recap what you have covered, explaining and discussing the potential benefits and risks of a facelift, and will advise you on any post-operative care you need to be aware of. They will be happy to go over any detail again if anything remains unclear to you. As cosmetic surgery fundamentally aims to alter your appearance, it is important that you fully understand what the procedure involves and are comfortable with the plan going forward.

In advance of your surgery, your Circle hospital will ask you to complete a pre-admission health questionnaire. This information helps assist us in planning your individual care, taking into account your medical history and any previous hospital treatment you have received.

You will be contacted to arrange an appointment for a Pre-operative Assessment with the Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse. At this appointment, we will carry out appropriate tests (e.g. blood test) and discuss your patient journey. This is an ideal opportunity for you to raise any concerns or questions you may have, and we recommend you take advantage of this time by talking with the nurse about your procedure.

If you take regular medication, please continue to take it unless your surgeon or anaesthetist specifically advises otherwise. If you are unsure about taking any medication, please contact the Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse beforehand to check with them. As with any surgical procedure, there is no “silly” question to ask beforehand; we would much rather you ask lots of questions so that your mind is fully at ease leading up to your facelift. 

Before arriving for your facelift, we recommend you:

  • Take a bath or shower at home on the day of your admission.
  • Remove any make-up, nail varnish and jewellery. Rings that you prefer to not remove can be covered.
  • Follow the fasting instructions detailed in your admission letter – generally, this advises you not to eat for 6 hours and not to drink for 2 hours prior to your admission but do check your letter for clarity.

When you arrive at your Circle hospital, you will be escorted to the Surgery Unit where the nursing staff will prepare you for your facelift surgery. You will be provided with a theatre gown, dressing gown, and slippers for your use, and you may be asked to wear support stockings to help maintain the blood flow in your legs.

Your surgeon will visit you before the surgery in order to carry out pre-operative skin marking to highlight the correct areas for incision. They will also ask you to sign a consent form. By signing this form, you are giving your permission for the surgery to go ahead and confirming that you are aware of the possible risks and complications.

You will also be seen beforehand by an anaesthetist. They are responsible for administering your general anaesthetic and monitoring you closely throughout the surgery, so they will visit with you before your surgery to introduce themselves and to run through their pre-anaesthetic checks with you, in order to ensure your suitability for the anaesthetic.  

Your Cosmetic Surgery Specialist Nurse will also visit with you, and they will be there to help you with your aftercare.

Facelift surgery typically takes between two to three hours, but this will vary depending on the surgery being undertaken and if it is being combined with another procedure at the same time (for example, eyelid surgery, also known as ‘blepharoplasty’).

Once your facelift surgery is completed, you will be taken from the operating theatre into the Recovery Suite. Specially-trained theatre staff will monitor you and look after until you are fully awake following the anaesthetic.

Once you are fully conscious, and the staff are happy with your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels etc.), you will be taken back by a porter and nursing staff to your private room to rest and begin to recovery in a peaceful, quiet environment. You will probably spend quite a bit of time sleeping, as your body recovers from the effects of the anaesthetic and the surgery. 

Throughout the day, Circle nursing staff will check your dressings and monitor your pulse, blood pressure and heart rate at regular intervals to ensure you are well and that your recovery is proceeding as expected. We appreciate that sometimes surgery can be an unnerving experience, and should you have any concerns at any time, day or night, you can simply press a button to call one of the nurses to your room. 

Your face may feel puffy or achy, and you may feel drowsy from the anaesthetic. These are all perfectly normal following facelift surgery, and your anaesthetist will usually prescribe painkillers for you to take regularly for the first week or so. Pain can slow down your recovery, so it is important to discuss any discomfort you experience with nursing staff.

You may have drainage tubes under the skin of the face – these will have small bottles attached to them and are in place to help drain away any excess fluid. These will be removed before you are discharged home. There may also be a drip in one of your arms to help keep you well hydrated.  Sometimes after an anaesthetic and an operation you will not feel like drinking much, so the IV drip is our way of ensuring you are suitably hydrated. Once you are able to drink suitable amounts of fluid, this drip will be removed

You may also have dressings in place around your face to help reduce swelling and bruising following your facelift, and to aid and promote healing and recovery. These dressings will be regularly checked by your Circle nurse and replaced as and when needed.

Until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed, you will need to rest. Rest is vital to the recovery process. You will be visited by your surgeon who will assess your progress and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Providing you are not feeling sick you may start to drink and eat when you feel ready. Your Circle nursing staff will help ensure you have food when you feel like it. They will also give you advice on getting out of bed safely, personal hygiene, and diet. Sitting and sleeping upright (with extra pillows) will help to reduce any swelling, and you should have someone with you who can help look after you and make sure you don’t over-exert yourself once you’ve been discharged home from hosptial.

You will be required to stay in hospital for one or two nights to ensure everything is healing as expected. Once you have been discharged back home, you will still need time to recover from the surgery, so it is important that you have planned additional time off work during this healing and recovery phase. The exact time you will need off work will vary depending on many factors, including the extent of your facelift surgery and the job you do, and your surgeon will be able to give you more specific advice and guidance.


Recovery times for a facelift can vary significantly, depending on a number of factors:

  • the type of facelift surgery,
  • whether or not there were any complications,
  • your general health and the health of your body’s immune system,
  • how much you adhere to post-operative care guidelines.

Ordinarily it takes four to six weeks to fully recover from a facelift, but your surgeon will be able to give you a more accurate estimate of recovery time once your surgery is complete.

After a facelift you are likely to have some discomfort/pain, swelling, and bruising. These are temporary and you should find they subside after the first few weeks.

It is normal for bruising to be visible on your face for a couple of weeks after a facelift, and it may take up to nine months for you to see the full benefit of your facelift. You will need to avoid getting the bandages on your face wet for a few days, in order to give your skin time to start healing and the incisions to start closing up adequately.

Strenuous exercise should be avoided for a couple of weeks after your surgery and you should follow your surgeon's advice regarding how long to avoid driving; you should not begin driving again until you are confident that you can safely perform an emergency stop without experiencing any discomfort.

You will usually be advised to sleep on a couple of pillows for the first few days after surgery. This keeps your head propped up higher than normal, which can help to reduce excess swelling.

You will receive a post-operative telephone call from the cosmetic surgery nurse one or two days after your discharge home to ascertain your progress and well-being. Should you have any queries or concerns, you will of course be able to discuss these with the nurse during the phone call.

At your post-operative follow-up appointment, your surgeon will assess your progress and give advice on when you can resume your normal activities. The length of time you will need to take off work will completely depend on your type of employment, and again your surgeon will be able to guide you.

Facelift surgery is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure. However, all surgery carries an element of risk and it important you are aware of these.

General risks: Possible complications of any surgery can include:

  • an unexpected reaction to a general anaesthetic
  • excessive bleeding
  • developing a blood clot (usually in a vein in the lower leg, known as a DVT - deep vein thrombosis)

Specific risks following facelift surgery

  • Your face will probably feel numb or puffy for a few weeks after surgery.
  • You will be left with visible scars following your surgery. Initially they will be red and slightly raised but will gradually soften and fade over the following months. Sometimes these scars may remain visible for longer or even permanently.
  • Occasionally, bleeding under the skin causes further swelling and pain - this is known as a haematoma. In rare cases further surgery is required to remove the haematoma and to stop the bleeding.
  • There are facial nerves that run from the ear across to the muscles of the face - these may be damaged during surgery, causing numbness and muscle weakness. These symptoms usually resolve on their own, but occasionally can be permanent.
  • Sometimes, you may experience a small amount of permanent hair loss near the scars caused by the incisions made for the facelift.

If you are concerned about these risks and complications, feel free to discuss them with your Circle Health consultant, who will be able to answer any of your questions and determine which of the risks you may be more susceptible to. It is vital that you are aware of all the potential risks of surgery before undergoing any procedure, and your consultant will want to help you feel at ease beforehand by clearing up any queries you may have, and helping you to weigh up the risks against all the possible benefits you face from having the  facelift surgery.

It is important to bear in mind that a facelift can improve the appearance of your face, but your appearance will continue to change in the future due to the ongoing aging process. Should you gain or lose weight, this may also affect your facial appearance in the future. Sometimes, people who have had a facelift choose to have further surgery at some point in the future to help improve their appearance once more, and this can be discussed with your Circle doctor if it becomes appropriate for you at any point in the future.

At Circle Health, facelift surgery starts from £8,197.

This comes with the reassurance that you are being treated by medical professionals with extensive experience, fully qualified and in line with all the relevant guidelines and accreditations, alongside a multi-disciplinary team at one of our modern Circle hospitals.

We are always fully transparent with our pricing, but please do contact us for a bespoke quotation. For your reassurance, you will always receive a written fixed price quote from us before being admitted for any treatment.

Having cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision. Circle offer a range of cosmetic treatments for men and women, both surgical and non-surgical. Having a consultation with a suitably qualified plastic surgeon will help you to really understand your motivations and expectations, in order to arrive at the best solution for you. In some situations, our Circle specialists may advise you against having cosmetic surgery when it is not appropriate or medically justified, so it is important to be open and honest when discussing your options with them.

Understandably, everybody is different and has their own desires, opinions and thoughts that are important to them. Before making any decisions, it is advised that you seek independent professional medical advice, such as from your local GP.

At Circle, we aim to meet and then exceed the expectations of all our patients. When you choose to have your facelift carried out with us, you will benefit from:

  • No waiting lists: with no waiting lists, we can arrange your initial consultation with a doctor, and any further follow-up appointments or diagnostic tests, promptly.
  • Our luxurious facilities: every Circle hospital has been purpose-built, with input from our consultants to ensure we are able to provide the highest quality of care, in first-class surroundings.
  • Our multidisciplinary cosmetic surgery team: we have built a strong and diverse team of like-minded healthcare professionals working in our cosmetic surgery units. Their vast amount of shared experience means you will always receive high quality help, treatment, guidance and support possible when having your facelift with us. Every member of the Circle staff is ready to assist with anything you may require.
  • The depth of our expertise in cosmetic surgery: all our cosmetic surgeons are members of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS), reassurance that you will always receive treatment from a suitably qualified surgeon.

At Circle Health, we offer fast access to a number of modern hospitals across the UK, all featuring state-of-the-art facilities, technologies and diagnostic equipment. It is easy to book an appointment with one of our cosmetic surgeons at a time that is convenient for you.

We always advise you talk with one of our Circle consultants face to face if you are considering facelift surgery. This gives you the perfect opportunity to discuss all the benefits a facelift can provide, while addressing any worries or concerns you may have at the same time.

If you are considering a facelift, or would like to discuss alternative cosmetic surgery options with a suitably qualified and nationally registered cosmetic or plastic surgeon, why not book an appointment at your nearest Circle hospital? Our staff will be able to talk you through the options, advise you of the different procedures available to you, and answer any questions or concerns you may have about facelift surgery.

Contact the friendly team at Circle to arrange an initial consultation that fits with your schedule. We have no waiting lists so can quickly arrange a convenient appointment for you with one of our dedicated cosmetic surgeons. Take that first step towards a boosted self-confidence today.

*The information on this webpage is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Before any cosmetic surgery it is important you seek guidance and advice from an independent source, such as your GP. 



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