Facelift vs. Fillers: Which One Is Right For Me?

Aging is a normal part of life, but not everyone enjoys the changes that come along with it. Usually, signs of aging are most apparent on the face in the form of wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, and lost facial volume. When it comes to the most effective treatments to reverse the visible signs of aging, the two most popular choices are the surgical facelift and non-surgical dermal fillers. The question that generally follows is, which treatment is right for me? When deciding between fillers vs facelift surgery, it’s important to consider what results can be achieved, what the recovery will be like, and how long the results will last.

At Phase Plastic Surgery in Seattle, WA, renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Baxter will discuss your personal goals, answer your questions, and help you determine which treatment is ideal to best meet your aesthetic goals. Both treatments can provide beautiful, natural-looking results, but the best one for you depends on a few different factors.

What Is a Facelift?

A facelift is a common surgical procedure that involves repositioning muscle, skin, and tissue to address common signs of aging. During a Seattle facelift procedure, Dr. Baxter will make incisions, typically around the ears and behind the hairline, where they are very inconspicuous. Once these incisions have been made, Dr. Baxter will reshape the cheeks using the SMAS layer under the skin so as to avoid too much pulling on the skin. The remaining skin is then repositioned to provide a more aesthetic and youthful facial profile, and the excess removed. The results produce a more contoured jawline, smoothed fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall firmer, rejuvenated appearance of the face and neck. A facelift often includes some fat grafting to restore volume in the cheeks.

A facelift is the ideal option for patients who are unhappy with sagging skin around the cheeks and jawline, loose skin in the neck, and loss of facial volume. It does not address lines around the mouth, which may be better treated with dermal fillers or a laser peel.

What Are Dermal Fillers?

Dermal fillers include a variety of hyaluronic acid products that are injected directly into your face and have an instant plumping effect. Once injected into the targeted area, they add volume to areas that have become sunken or hollow and help smooth out wrinkles and fine lines. Dermal fillers are commonly used in the lips, cheeks, jawline, under the eyes, and the forehead.

A facelift is recommended for more advanced signs of aging, whereas dermal fillers are used to treat the early stages of facial aging.

How Do the Durability and Longevity Compare?

As you research the anti-aging treatment that will produce your ideal outcomes, there are a number of factors to consider, including expectations, aesthetic outcomes, the longevity of the product, and the recovery process.


While both treatments can help minimize signs of aging, fillers are limited in what they can accomplish. For example, fillers cannot remove sagging or excess skin. Additionally, fillers cannot lift facial muscles or reposition fat pads, something a surgical facelift can provide.

Fillers provide less dramatic results, which, for some people, is more than enough. For patients looking for more comprehensive or dramatic changes, a facelift may be their best option.


Another important factor to consider when choosing between a surgical facelift and dermal fillers is the longevity of your results. Patients who undergo a facelift find that their results last for a decade or longer. With fillers, results typically last between 6 to 24 months. The specific duration of your dermal filler results depends on the type of filler used, where it is placed, and how fast your body metabolizes the injections. Maintenance injections can be scheduled to extend the life of your results.

What Can You Expect From Each Procedure and Recovery?

Because a facelift is a surgical procedure, you should anticipate a more prolonged recovery time. Dermal fillers, on the other hand, require little to no downtime and usually only involve some minor bruising and swelling at the injection sites.

After a facelift, it can take up to two weeks or more before you can return to work or participate in regular activities. It can take up to a month before you’re cleared to resume strenuous activities and exercise. Swelling, bruising, and tenderness can be expected and can last for up to four to eight weeks. Most patients report that their discomfort is minor, yet the benefits are long-lasting, making it worth it for many to have the more complex procedure.

After fillers, you may experience some minor bruising and swelling at the injection sites. Most patients can resume their normal activities within a day or two.

How Do the Costs of Facelifts and Fillers Compare?

When it comes to the cost of dermal fillers, you end up paying for the amount of the chosen filler that your provider uses. For that reason, the cost will depend on the area being treated, how much correction is required to reach your desired results, what type of filler is recommended to you, and how often you schedule your maintenance treatments.

The cost of a facelift will include surgeon fees, operating room fees, the cost of anesthesia, and more, depending on your surgeon. However, a facelift is a one-time surgical expense. You won’t have to worry about touch-up treatments for the next several years.

What Are the Safety Concerns and Risks for Both Procedures?

Having a facelift requires surgery under general anesthesia. While this is very safe for patients in generally good health, it presents more potential risks. Dr. Baxter will discuss all of these risks and safety concerns with you prior to your surgery. Fillers, however, are performed in-office and usually only require 30 minutes to an hour to complete. There are also some risks associated with facial fillers, but when you choose an experienced injector, these risks are greatly minimized.

How Do Age and Skin Type Influence the Best Choice?

A facelift is commonly performed on patients who are 50 or older because it is capable of producing more advanced results than dermal fillers. On the other hand, dermal fillers can be performed on patients as early as their 20s who are just beginning to see the early signs of aging and want to help prevent these signs from becoming worse.

As far as skin type is concerned, patients with extreme skin laxity may not be suitable candidates for dermal fillers as they do very little to help the elasticity of the skin. A facelift is suited for candidates with more skin laxity as it is the only way to effectively tighten sagging skin and reposition facial muscles.

How Do You Maintain and Care For Facelifts vs. Fillers?

Maintaining and caring for your facelift results versus dermal filler results are very similar. A few things you can implement into your daily life to help maintain and care for your results include:

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Choose high-quality skincare products
  • Maintain your stress levels
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get enough sleep each night

If you had a facelift several years ago and you’re beginning to see some signs of aging start to return, you can use dermal fillers and other non-invasive treatments, like Botox, to help maintain your results.

How Do You Decide Which Option Is Right For You?

The best way to decide which treatment is right for you is to schedule a personalized consultation with an experienced Seattle board-certified plastic surgeon. As an art major with an aptitude for science, Dr. Baxter took his artistic background and married it with his surgical approaches. His creative problem-solving skills and artistic lens help him evaluate his patient’s needs and recommend the best procedures based on their unique requirements.

To schedule your consultation with Dr. Baxter, complete our online consultation form or call us at (425) 776-0880.

Our technology & science meets your beauty.

Our expertise, coupled with science-based technologies and the latest in advanced techniques at PHASE Plastic Surgery, is how we continue to be the best surgical and non-surgical facility Seattle has to offer. We’re honored and excited to join you on your aesthetic journey toward looking and feeling your best. To get started, complete our consultation form, or call us at (425) 776-0880.