This is a great question; many patients are concerned about looking unnatural after having cosmetic procedures done. And we’ve all seen examples of celebrities who look artificial or unnatural after plastic surgery. But I can assure you those are the exceptions. First of all, remember that it is the paparazzi’s job to catch celebrities looking their worst. So many of the photos that you see in those “horrible plastic surgery” before and after photos are taken at awkward angles with unflattering lighting. There may also be photos taken in the postoperative period, when there is still significant swelling. Many photos of Mickey Rourke, for example, appear to be taken shortly after surgery. Joan Rivers is another often-cited example of a celebrity who started to look a bit artificial.
So what can you realistically expect after having a facelift?
- Immediately after surgery you will have swelling and bruising. Your ears will be swollen as well, and may feel tender or full as if you have a cold. If you have drains, they are removed in the first day or two.
- Weeks 1-2: Your bruising will fade and swelling starts to improve. Your face may feel or look tight.
- Weeks 3-4: Swelling resolves and the feeling of tightness improves as the skin and underlying tissue stretch and relax. Soon you’ll find that you simply look like a more refreshed version of yourself.
The most common result after a face lift is that you look 5-10 years younger after surgery, and then continue to age naturally. Those people who look very overdone, are often just that: overdone. It takes many, many procedures to create that artificial appearance. If a face lift is something you are interested in, but you’re concerned about looking artificial, I would recommend spending some time looking at real before and after photos. The American Society of Plastic Surgery and Real Self are great places to start, along with the websites of Plastic Surgeons in your area.