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How soon before a big event should I plan my facelift surgery?


The decision to have facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) can sometimes accompany life changes and significant events such as anniversaries, weddings or birthdays. In preparing for – or celebrating – these milestones, patients report reflecting upon their life experiences, age and how well their ‘outer self’ represents or reflects the way they feel on the inside.

However, at the risk of putting a dampener on the excitement of the moment – plastic surgeons do not recommend planning surgery around a specific event.

This is because they know that while most cosmetic procedures go to plan and result in a pleasing outcome, surgery is not an exact science; it carries benefits, but also risks and a recovery period that can be unpredictable for some patients.

Dr Sharp plastic surgeon planning facelift

The changes that surgery brings will last long after the big event or milestone has passed.

Hence, if your primary motivation is to look good for a specific event, we recommend reconsidering the timing of your procedure.

So when is the right time for a facelift?

  • You would like to reduce deep lines, jowls and lax skin in the mid and lower face and upper neck
  • When facelift surgery is something you have wanted to do for some time
  • You have given serious consideration and thought to the procedure, weighing its risks and benefits
  • You have a good support network at home to assist with your recovery
  • You can afford to take time off work, leisure or family commitments to recover; and you understand recovery periods vary between patients
  • If you currently have good body image and life satisfaction / stability
  • You have reasonable expectations about what facelift surgery will achieve and understand that a specific outcome cannot be guaranteed


This is not an exhaustive list, but being able to answer positively to these preoperatively gives you a greater chance of being pleased with your result postoperatively, and might mean that now is a suitable time to consider facelift surgery.

Physically, facelift surgery should be performed when you are:

  • Healthy – ie not suffering from disease or chronic illness that may impact your anaesthetic safety profile, healing or recovery.
  • At your personal ‘ideal’ weight, with a BMI under 30.


These factors improve your chances of having a safe anaesthetic and good surgical outcome.


So you’ve decided to have a facelift – what next?

Check your shortlisted surgeons’ credentials!

Facelift surgery should be performed by a qualified specialist plastic surgeon as they have advanced surgical training in facial anatomy.

Visit the RACS website or Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons to confirm your surgeon’s credentials.

Also, confirm that your surgeon:

  • consults her/his patients directly – your first consult and second preoperative consult should be with the surgeon who is performing your surgery, not an allocated patient coordinator, nurse or another doctor who will not be operating on you.
  • performs the operation at an accredited hospital facility
  • has admitting rights to an inpatient hospital facility (for example, Greenslopes Private Hospital) where your care can be managed by them should you have a complication requiring readmission or further surgery



Pictured: before and after facelift surgery with Dr Sharp (shown here following one Fraxel laser session)


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Plan ahead + consult at least two plastic surgeons

Expect a wait to consult specialist plastic surgeons in Brisbane with extensive experience in facelift surgery. When booking your consult, if you’d like to be seen sooner, ask to be placed on the clinic’s priority waiting list.

The wait time for a consult and surgery will vary depending on the time of year. We recommend reaching out to your shortlisted surgeon’s clinics 10-12 months prior to your ideal time for surgery to ensure no part of your surgical journey is rushed. We also recommend seeking the opinions of at least two specialist plastic surgeons, to ensure you make an educated and confident decision.

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Do your research

That doesn’t mean Dr Google – it just means spend time on your shortlisted surgeon’s websites, social media or talking to their patient support or administrative team to get a sense of the clinics ethos and values.

If you feel comfortable, talk to friends for recommendations – you might be surprised how many people in your network know someone who has had a facelift or has had one themselves.

Before and after photos are important, but typically, facelift patients wish to keep their identify concealed and don’t consent to their images being used online.

So ask your surgeon if they have in-clinic images that are consented for face-to-face consult sharing between surgeon and patient, for educational purposes.

Some of the most experienced plastic surgeons in Australia have the least-glossy social media accounts, so don’t always believe the hype!

Ask lots of questions at your pre operative initial consult; the surgeon should answer them in detail, and in plain terms.

Image, left: before and 5 months after facelift surgery with Dr Sharp and one Fraxel laser session

Some things to consider if you are planning a facelift

Facelift recovery will vary between patients. The initial swelling will take a few weeks to subside, but the deeper swelling will take months – and scars can take years to mature.

Therefore Dr Sharp does not perform the procedure within 6 months of a milestone or big event.

  1. The deeper swelling involved with a facelift can vary from patient to patient but in some cases, can still be visible for up to 6 months. During an active or busy period, increased blood pressure etc can cause parts of the face that are still healing to swell up, and take a few days of light activity (and compression garment when sleeping) to subside. It can be very distressing if the patient is unlucky enough to develop recurrent swelling just before a special event.
  2. Despite being rare, nerve compression, or even damage, is the most serious complication after facelift surgery. The vast majority of nerve compression or damage recovers fully, but can take 6-24 months. During this time, the patient can have a lopsided smile or issues with normal lower face movement, which is conservatively managed using doses of muscle relaxing injections. Although it is rare, the risk of this occurring before a special event compounds the trauma caused if it does happen.
  3. Scarring is at its reddest, most prominent during the early recovery period, and even if hair is worn down and makeup is used, can be visible during this phase of healing. Once healing is complete, most scarring is easily covered by makeup, or not even required at all if you are not prone to prominent scarring – but it can take at least 6 months (up to 24) for some patients to get to that point, depending on their skin quality and how their body inherently scars.
  4. While most facelift complications are not life threatening, they can impact your quality of life for a period of time and it is important to consider how you may feel if they occur. Although studies report good psychosocial outcomes after facelift surgery, negative outcomes occur despite sound surgical techniques and operative safety.
facelift scars
facelift results Dr Sharp

Above, before and 1 year after facelift surgery with Dr Sharp and Fraxel – and the same patient at 1 month and 5 months after facelift surgery with Dr Sharp.

Most patients recover well and the above aspects are not a problem by 3-6 months post surgery, but unfortunately we are not able to predict who will have a straightforward recovery, and who will not, so we err on the side of caution.

Our standard postoperative facelift care program includes a six week LED program, as well as Fraxel non ablative laser. Our post op care utilises modalities to improve bruising, swelling and scarring – while improving skin quality and reducing pigmentation. 

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Above left: before and 5 months after facelift surgery with Dr Sharp and Fraxel

Above right: before and 6 months after facelift and fat grafting surgery with Dr Sharp and Fraxel

Want to find out more about facelift surgery pricing, recovery and results?

Enquire with our helpful team here…

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