A rhytidectomy or facelift is designed to restore a more youthful appearance to the neck, jowl and cheek region by removing major wrinkles and sagging skin. If there is excess fat in the neck or chin region, this can simultaneously be addressed with liposuction or direct excision. A facelift can improve a tired facial appearance by smoothing the skin, reestablishing defined contours along the neck and jaw line and resuspending the cheek to its original position. It is often done in combination with other procedures including a brow lift and eyelid surgery to create an overall harmonious, youthful result.

The surgery is done under general anesthesia and typically takes 4 hours. The modern facelift pulls the face vertically and includes incision in the natural means, only in front of the ear (short scar facelift) and that avoids incisions behind the ear. This new technique provides more natural appearance and not the "lateral pull of the face". It involves elevation of the skin, tightening of the facial and neck muscles and redraping and removal of any excess skin.

Postoperatively patients may have a small silicone drain in overnight as well as head and neck wrappings. After these are removed, patients are often required to wear a removable chin strap for one week. Sutures are usually removed 7 days after surgery but it is usually 2 to 3 weeks before most patients feel socially presentable.