Second Facelift as Safe as First

Risks With Plastic Surgery Remain the Same

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 4, 2002 -- Good news for sagging faces: A repeat facelift isn't likely to be any riskier than the original. A new study shows people who have a second nip and tuck around the face aren't any more likely to suffer complications than those who have the cosmetic surgery for the first time.

Researchers say the findings are encouraging because people who have a second facelift are usually older than first-time recipients. Older patients often suffer from other medical conditions such as high blood pressure that might increase risks associated with surgery.

About a third of all facelifts are performed on patients under age 50, and researchers say a growing number of patients are opting to go under the knife again to reduce the signs of aging.

"With the increasing population of facelift recipients, the plastic surgery community has started to see not only older patients, but also patients coming back for a second facelift," says researcher Alan Matarasso, MD, clinical associate professor of plastic surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a news release.

Matarasso presented the study this week at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in San Antonio, Texas.

In the study, researchers looked at whether 101 repeat facelift patients with an average age of 60 had a higher rate of complications than first-timers. They found that only 2% suffered from any major complications, which is comparable to rates among younger, first-time patients.

Researchers say that low rate of complications was especially significant because more than 75% of these repeat patients chose to have additional cosmetic procedures, such as laser resurfacing and eyelid surgery, during the facelift.

"Through this study, we found that secondary facelifts in older patients combined with added cosmetic procedures are safe," says Matarasso. "However, we also found there are special considerations with older patients such as medical conditions and surgical techniques.

For example, the researchers say a second-time facelift patient's skin is usually thinner and less elastic. Older patients are also more likely to suffer from hair loss and surgeons need to be aware that an incision at the hairline could generate additional hair loss.

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