Facelift Q & A

I don’t want that “pulled” overdone look. How can you make a facelift look natural?

The best work never looks obvious, but there are several specific things that help accomplish that goal. First, it is helpful to understand that a facelift is more than pulling skin tighter. It’s really a 3-dimesional operation that reshapes the face in a youthful way. The layers under the skin need to be elevated in a vertical direction; if you look at the oblique view of a “before & after” you will notice the S-shaped curve of the cheek that results.

How can recovery time be minimized?

Most people are simply too busy to hide out for weeks after a facelift, and don’t want to have to explain to everyone they see that they had “a little work” done. Facelift techniques have improved a lot, but one thing that remains true is that a longer operation always means more swelling. The reshaping of the deeper tissues, as mentioned above, needs to be done with precision and minimal manipulation. Another thing that I use routinely is a sort of superglue that I believe really minimizes swelling and bruising. You will still need to “hide out” for a week, and expect some reasonably obvious swelling and bruising the second week but by week 3 most patients are comfortable being out and about, perhaps with a little camouflage makeup.

I don’t want visible scars. Is a short-scar technique an option?

A facelift isn’t just one operation, done the same way on everyone. Just as an artist has a palette of colors, there is a menu of techniques and variations that enable the facelift to be customized. All of these are designed to have very inconspicuous scars, but as a general rule the shortest and best-hidden scar that gives ideal results is used. Some of these have clever-sounding names, implying that they are some kind of dramatic improvement and render the ‘standard” facelift obsolete. There are indeed some great improvements, but I would advise an extreme degree of skepticism regarding trademarked facelifts, which may have more to do with marketing than anything else.

Is there really such a thing as a nonsurgical facelift?

In a word, no, but that hasn’t stopped the term for being widely used. That’s because a true surgical facelift is a reshaping operation, not simply tightening skin or adding volume with injections. There are some good options that don’t involve surgery, they just do something different and calling them a facelift tends to inflate expectations.

What is the best age to have a facelift, and how long does it last?

Of course there’s no simple answer to this, but when done in younger years (40’s to early 50’s) the skin is generally in better condition and so the results may hold up better over time. Also, for a younger patient the change isn’t as obvious to everyone, and more often a short scar technique is a good option. On the other hand, for someone a little bit older the change is more dramatic and some may find that more worthwhile. As for how long it lasts, a facelift isn’t really a temporary benefit; think of it as turning back the clock.

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