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SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery

A SMAS Facelift, Superficial Musculo-Aponeurotic System Facelift or Rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure performed by plastic surgeons to address loose skin and ageing in the lower face and neck.

Why consider SMAS Facelift?

Address signs of Aging

Lift and tighten facial muscles

Reduce lines around lower face and neck

Concealable Scarring

What is a SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy)?

Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS) Illustration of Anatomy of Face and Neck (Profile View)

The rhytidectomy procedure, also referred to as a SMAS facelift, involves lifting and tightening the underlying layer of tissue (SMAS) beneath the skin, which tends to change with age. This procedure aims to help change facial contours by repositioning and tightening the muscles and tissues in the face and neck.

Am I A Suitable Candidate For SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery

Generally a suitable candidate for SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery is someone who;

  • Shows visible signs of ageing in the lower face and neck, such as loose skin, facial creases and loss of definition in the jawline.
  • Has reasonably good skin elasticity, this is important because the skin needs to be able to adjust to the tightened underlying tissues.
  • Is in good overall health and has no medical conditions that could increase surgical risks.
  • Does not smoke as smoking can impair the body’s ability to heal.
  • Is a stable weight because significant weight fluctuations can affect the results of the surgery.
  • Has realistic expectations about the outcome of the surgery. While a SMAS Facelift may provide significant improvement, it cannot stop the ageing process entirely.

Please also visit our other types of facelift surgery for more information on different types of Facelift procedures.

What are the outcomes of SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery?

SMAS Facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery has many potential outcomes including;

  • Changed jawline definition
  • Reduction in wrinkles, fine lines, and jowls
  • Concealable Scarring (incisions can be made along hairline, behind ears and sometimes under the chin)
  • Visible reduction of loose skin
  • In some cases the results may last for many years

Individuals considering SMAS Facelift Lift (rhytidectomy) should consult with a fully qualified plastic surgeon to discuss goals, candidacy, and to receive personalised recommendations based on their unique circumstances.

What to Expect During SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) surgery

Although every surgery is tailored to the patients needs, the steps are generally as follows:

Anesthesia: The procedure typically begins with the administration of anesthesia to make the patient more comfortable.

Incision Placement: The surgeon will make incisions usually within the hairline around the ears and sometimes under the chin. These incisions are strategically placed to minimise visible scarring.

Skin Elevation: The skin is gently lifted from the underlying tissues to access the SMAS layer which is a fibrous network of muscles and connective tissue.

SMAS Manipulation: The surgeon will then reposition and tighten the SMAS layer. This may involve trimming excess tissue, adjusting muscle placement and lifting.

Fat Repositioning or Removal: In some cases, fat may be redistributed or removed to change facial contours, especially in the neck and jowl area.

Skin Redraping: After the SMAS layer has been adjusted, the skin is carefully redraped over the newly repositioned tissues. Excess skin is trimmed as needed.

Suture Closure: The surgeon uses sutures to secure the skin in its new position. These sutures are often placed beneath the skin’s surface to reduce tension on the outer skin layer.

Incision Closure: The incisions are meticulously closed with sutures. The choice of closure method may vary depending on the surgeon’s preference and the individual case.

Dressing and Bandages: Dressings and bandages may be applied to protect the incisions and help reduce swelling and bruising.

Recovery and Monitoring: After the surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area to ensure your immediate well-being. You will receive post-operative instructions regarding care, medications, and follow-up appointments.

Risks and Complications of SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy)

Like all invasive surgery SMAS Facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery has several risks and potential complications. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Anesthesia Complications
  • Infection
  • Haematoma or Seroma
  • Scarring
  • Nerve Damage
  • Asymmetry
  • Prolonged Swelling and Bruising
  • Delayed Healing
  • Unsatisfactory Results
  • Need for Surgery Revision

It is essential for patients to thoroughly discuss these potential risks and complications with their surgeon during the consultation process. Careful post-operative care and adherence to recovery guidelines can help reduce the likelihood of complications. Choosing an experienced and Specialised Plastic Surgeon is crucial for achieving desired results from a SMAS Facelift (rhytidectomy).

All surgery has risks, for detailed information about the risks and complications of SMAS Facelift surgery please visit the risks of surgery page.


SMAS Facelift surgery recovery typically involves a period of rest and limited activity to allow for proper healing. Patients will need to take a few weeks off work.

  • Patients may experience swelling, numbness, bruising, and a feeling of tightness and discomfort in the face and neck area which are normal and expected.
  • Dressings and drains may be in place and patients should follow post-op care instructions carefully.
  • Immediately after surgery (and in the initial weeks after surgery) patients may experience pain which can be managed with pain medication and cold compresses.
  • Avoid strenuous activities for several weeks as this may help ensure a smoother recovery.
  • Expect a gradual improvement in facial appearance as swelling subsides and healing progresses, full settling may take twelve months or longer
  • Regular follow up appointments with the surgeon are necessary to monitor healing and address any concerns or complications that may arise. Follow the link for post-operative care guide.

How much does SMAS Facelift Surgery Cost?

Our Surgeons customise every surgery to each patient, therefore, the price of surgery varies. However, your Surgeon can give you a price quote for surgery during your consultation. The quote you receive will have a cost breakdown, which will include; Surgeon’s fee, an Anesthetist fee, a Surgical Assistant fee, hospital fees (including a hospital stay) and more.

Medicare and Private Health Insurers consider SMAS Facelift surgery purely cosmetic and not medically necessary. Therefore you will not be covered and will have to pay for the procedure in full.

For information about payment options visit prices page

Scar Management Minimising scars after Surgery

At Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery we offer several scar treatment options including; Healite, Fraxel Laser and Dermapen to patients that need extra assistance in reducing the appearance/severity of their surgical scars.

Be sure to follow your Surgeon’s instructions after surgery to reduce the appearance of your scars.

Why Choose Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery?

Not all Surgeons have the same experience or intensive training and testing qualifications. Be sure you learn the differences between a Plastic Surgeon, a General Surgeon, a Cosmetic Surgeon or other types of Surgeon.

In choosing a surgeon for your SMAS Facelift (rhytidectomy) it helps to understand that a Facelift (rhytidectomy) is a complex surgical procedure in terms of facial anatomy, skeletal structures, muscles, fat, nerves, tendons and other structures relating to the surgery.

Choosing a Specialist Plastic Surgeon means you are choosing an accredited recognised plastic surgeon that performs surgery in an accredited hospital. Look for members of FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) memberships. ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons) ASAPS (Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) or ISAPS (International Society Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) as some of the Qualifications of your Plastic Surgeon.

Important Information about Facial Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery

Facial nerves and blood vessels traverse your face and neck, and it takes the expertise of a highly experienced surgeon to navigate them during a SMAS Facelift procedure. This approach minimises the potential complications associated with Facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery, including the risk of diminished facial sensation, or damage to the skin, muscles, blood vessels, or nerves.

About our Surgeons

  • It is important to research a Surgeon’s qualifications and experience before deciding on the Surgeon.
  • We suggest you seek a second opinion and have multiple consultations to see who you feel most confident with. Getting the opinion of an appropriately qualified health practitioner is vital.
  • We also suggest that you check your surgeons’ credentials at AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
  • Another good source of information is Past Patients.

Our SMAS Surgeons,  Dr Gary Kode, and Dr Broughton Snell are both highly experienced, fully qualified specialist plastic surgeons with current FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) memberships.

Visit our before and after facelift surgery photos or register to come to one of our FREE information evening events.

Download our 2023 Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Guide

This complete guide to Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery covers everything you need to know about this procedure, including:

  • Your surgery explained
  • How to assess if you are a suitable candidate.
  • Planning for your surgery
  • Answers to most frequently asked questions.
  • Before and after gallery
  • Learn more about Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery

Download Now

Facelift Guide Download

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Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843 Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266 Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799 Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964 Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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