Fabulous Facelifts

Discover how cosmetic surgery can rejuvenate the face and restore a youthful look

During the process of ageing, our skin loses its elasticity and volume which results in a sagging and wrinkled appearance. Fillers and botulinum toxin injectables, as well as treatments like energy-based devices and microneedling can help, but unfortunately, non-surgical treatments may only go so far, and are not a permanFabulous Faceent solution. Instead, facelift surgery remains one of the most popular types of cosmetic surgeries to be performed. After years of getting injectable treatments like fillers and toxin, 48-year-old Alison Telfer decided to undergo a deep plane facelift, platysmaplasty and lateral brow lift earlier this year to combat ageing, whilst improving the appearance of her skin quality.

The road to surgery begins

Working as an aesthetic nurse, Alison knew the ins and outs of the non-surgical treatments available to restore a youthful appearance, but she wanted to seek a more permanent solution to her ageing face. She notes, “Many non-surgical treatments – from injectables to threads – can give great results, but they have their limitations, and I knew I had got to the point where non-surgical procedures could not help me anymore because I had lax and saggy skin. I also wanted to look the most natural I could so didn’t want to overfill my face with fillers.” When choosing her surgeon, Alison felt that the surgeon’s speciality was important. “I wanted someone who only did faces. I didn’t want to have a surgeon who was performing on breasts in the morning, doing a tummy tuck next and then a facelift in the afternoon. By the surgeon only doing faces, this meant they were trained and educated in performing this type of surgery and therefore specialised in it,” she adds.

After meeting numerous surgeons, Alison decided on facial plastic surgeon Mr Dominic Bray at his clinic in Harley Street, London. In her experience, Alison emphasises the importance of taking your time to find the right surgeon for you. She explains, “There were surgeons in which I paid my deposit for the procedure and then withdrew it. There was something which stopped me every time; I think that was down to the consultation as well as the surgeon’s lack of understanding of what I wanted. However, I didn’t feel this in my consultation with Mr Bray. He was honest about what could be achieved, and it was a more positive consultation than I had experienced with previous surgeons. For other surgeons, the before and after images of other patients made me think, ‘if this was my face, I wouldn’t be happy with that result’ as they didn’t look natural.”

A unique consultation

Before the consultation, Mr Bray asked Alison to send across various photographs of her face, both front on, in profile and at a three-quarter angle. “I enjoyed the consultation process with Mr Bray as from looking at my images he was able to tell me what I would benefit from and ensure we were both on the same page, rather than a face-to-face meeting immediately,” Alison explains. Afterwards, Mr Bray’s clinical team emailed her with an estimation for the price of the procedure and whether she was in a financial position for the surgery.

Once Alison agreed and was happy to proceed, an in-person consultation was organised. During the meeting, Mr Bray began to pull back the facial skin, neck and jawline to show an indication of what the end results might look like for Alison, as well as showing past patients’ before and after images. “Seeing images of other patients similar to me allowed me to get a feel for the potential results. I had absolute faith in Mr Bray, and it wasn’t a scary decision for me at all. I had my husband with me during the consultation because I think it’s important to have someone with you who is going to support your journey. When Mr Bray examined my face, he asked me what my concerns were and the areas I wished to improve upon. To be honest, I didn’t know the answer to this. I just replied that I wanted to look better! I said that I look in the mirror and see someone getting older, and don’t notice myself anymore!” Alison reflects. Whilst at the clinic, Alison also got a tour of the miniature hospital situated at the clinic where the procedure was set to take place.

A supportive procedure

After the consultation, Mr Bray’s assistant ran through the costs and the whole process from start to finish. An initial deposit was placed to secure a slot followed by a 14-day cooling off period so that Alison could evaluate her decision and have time to really consider the surgery. She notes, “I didn’t have any concerns surrounding the surgery. I felt incredibly comfortable in the lead up to it; I was supported so much.”

One week prior to surgery, preparations begun. Alison was placed on a low-salicylate diet which involved avoiding most fruits and vegetables, as salicylates cause your blood to thin leading to increased bruising and bleeding. Manual lymphatic drainage on the face and neck (a massage to move excess lymph fluid out of the tissues) took place at the clinic and medication was prescribed for two to three days before surgery. On the day before surgery, Alison received more lymphatic drainage and entered a hyperbaric chamber at the hospital (a treatment which involves breathing a higher concentration of oxygen to accelerate the healing process) for an hour. On the morning of her surgery, Alison visited the chamber again for an hour and then was prepared for theatre. During the procedure, Alison was under twilight sedation, which meant she didn’t have a breathing tube and wasn’t paralysed from general anaesthetic drugs.

 

Alison’s side-profile before and three months after her deep plane facelift
surgery. Images courtesy of Mr Dominic Bray.

Alison’s three-quarter view before and three months after her deep plane facelift
surgery. Images courtesy of Mr Dominic Bray.

 

Alison’s facelift surgery involved Mr Bray accessing the facial tissues through skin incisions, lifting, tightening, and removing the excess skin and stitching it together. It slightly differs from a traditional facelift surgery, as Mr Bray’s deep plane approach goes a lot deeper and releases retaining ligaments whilst enabling to contour deeper areas of the face and sculpting the neckline and jawline.

After the surgery, the nurses assisted Alison with her nightwear and got her settled into bed for the evening where she stayed overnight. Pain relief was given along with ice packs to help with the tight feeling of the face. The next day, the bandages were removed and Alison visited the hyperbaric oxygen chamber again, and the clinical team prepared her to return home. Alison notes, “During the whole process, I was looked after so well. After the surgery, it felt like it was all about me and getting me prepared to head home. The next morning, Mr Bray contacted me personally to check my progress. At no point did I feel I was on my own and I felt so supported every step of the way.”

The speedy recovery

Alison visited Mr Bray after one week to have her stitches removed and then again one month and three months’ post-procedure to check on the progress. Alison was advised to continue the low-salicylate diet for one week, not to wash her hair for a week to keep the stitches clean, whilst sleeping upright for the first two weeks. She adds, “I was able to leave my house five days after the procedure as the swelling had begun to subside. Having my surgery in February meant that I could wear a bobble hat outside and pull it slightly forward so you couldn’t notice anything at the side. I decided to take three weeks off work to recover as my job is people-facing, so I wanted to be healed by the time I returned. After one month, my confidence began to skyrocket, and people say to me even now that my skin just looks so good, but they don’t think anything more than that.”

Maintaining results

Speaking about her results eight months later, Alison is thrilled and continues to receive non-surgical treatments to improve her skin quality and maintain the results. “My results are brilliant and perfect! It is a liberating feeling; I’ve really began to feel more confident in myself. I will continue to have filler and botulinum toxin injectables to maintain results, and the best thing is I don’t have any scars from the surgery. A facelift is like restoring the foundations of your house, but you still need to decorate it every now and again! Ageing is a continuous process and maintenance will still be required even if I have the main foundations reset.”

Instagramming experiences

Alison continues to speak openly about her surgery on her dedicated Instagram account – @myfaceliftlondon – where she has documented her journey before, during and after surgery. She notes, “It has been fascinating running the account, as lots of women have written to me about their own facelifts and commenting that it doesn’t look the same as mine, but it’s important to know that not all facelifts are the same! I have learnt a huge amount on this journey and will continue to answer any questions and offer support through the account for anyone interested.”

Practitioner perspective

Facelift surgery is an invasive procedure which allows for facial tissues to be lifted, tightened and sculpted to create better necklines and jawlines. This surgery can achieve full-face rejuvenation, however, the ageing process will not slow down. During the surgery, the patient’s face has been contoured and excess skin has been removed, but the face will continue to age. Skincare and non-surgical procedures should be upheld to optimise results. Every patient’s result is unique in their own way, but as Alison worked in the industry already, this made it particularly interesting. I believe it is a privilege for someone who understands the industry and who could pick anyone to perform on themselves chose me. I loved Alison’s results! I think we achieved what we both wanted. Her face was slightly more complex as we contoured the deep neck tissue and have created a more defined chin angle. At my clinic, a deep plane facelift surgery starts from £25,000, but can vary depending on the severity of the facial tissue.

Mr Dominic Bray, facial plastic and aesthetic surgeon, Dominic Bray Facial Plastic Surgery, London and Kent IG: @drdominicbray

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