I am not a plastic surgeon. I do not perform facelifts, at least the kind where incisions are required. However, I do offer alternatives like liquid facelifts, laser skin tightening, and other nonsurgical skin rejuvenation treatments that deliver excellent results.
These and other “facelifts” of the future offer exciting possibilities as their technology becomes more advanced, but let’s look at some plastic surgery history for a minute.
How Surgical Facelifts Have Developed Over the Last Century
The facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a procedure for facial rejuvenation or wrinkle excision that was first performed in Berlin in 1901. Various techniques have evolved over time using different incisions and tissue planes to perform the pullback of tissue and create a more youthful appearance.
For many years, cosmetic and plastic surgeons relied on facelift operations to treat all types of changes associated with facial aging. Since the early 1900s, the facelift technique has undergone at least four major surgical technical changes based on different and evolving philosophies and understanding of facial aging and anatomy.
A Shift to Minimally Invasive Procedures
As time has passed, economic changes have also taken place, vastly reducing the number of $10,000-to-$20,000-facelift procedures performed under general anesthesia. As a result, outpatient facelift facilities such as Lifestyle Lift centers sprang up all over the country offering minimally invasive facelifts. These centers were able to provide discounted plastic surgery facelift procedures due to their high volume of patients.
In spite of this, at this time in history, the facelift is just not as popular as it used to be for addressing facial wrinkles. In fact, facelift surgeries fell 11% between 2019 and 2020. Modern patients tend to seek minimally invasive procedures that require minimal downtime, less risk, and less scarring.
Advancements in Creating Natural-Looking Results
There is also, in my opinion, an improved understanding of what looks cosmetically appropriate and natural with better tools to accomplish these goals.
My patients often voice their concerns about the “swept back” appearance of a facelift that they have witnessed firsthand in friends and relatives and feel that surgery would alter their appearance too drastically. They are still looking for that youthful appearance, but they really don’t want surgery.
Nonsurgical Alternatives to Facelift Surgery
So what are the alternatives to facelifts? I approach the aging face by listening to the specific concerns of the patient. I examine their skin and their facial, neck bone, and muscular anatomy and function. I determine the cause of their concern and then use a combination of therapies such as:
- Lasers for skin rejuvenation and tightening
- Neuromodulators like Dysport® to relax certain muscles that create active wrinkles
- Dermal fillers like Restylane® and Perlane® to restore volume where it has been lost
- Laser-assisted liposuction, or Smartlipo™, to reduce fat in areas such as jowls and necks
All of these treatments either separately or in combination have been found to significantly improve the signs of aging and all are designed to provide minimal recovery times, little to no scarring, and low risk. The combination of neuromodulators and dermal fillers is so effective at rejuvenating the face that it has earned the nickname “liquid facelift.”
As these techniques continue to evolve, the results will be better, maybe even eventually replacing the 112-year-old rhytidectomy and becoming the facelift of the future.