Which facelift is right for you? The “mini facelift? How about the MACS Facelift? Maybe the endoscopic assisted biplanar facelift. Or even Kurtis Martin MD’s exclusive face lift. You get the picture – there are many options when it comes to selecting the facelift for you. Choosing the right procedure for the best result can be very difficult. The problem is keeping up with all the technology and separating the facts from the hype.
The most important factor when considering a facelift is choosing a surgeon who can achieve consistent, predictable results with minimal complications. During your consultation with your surgeon, look at before/after pictures of facelift patients and see if you like what you see. You must understand that not all surgeons perform all the techniques available. Most surgeons choose a limited number of techniques which produce excellent results with limited complications.
To illustrate this, here’s an example: Surgeon A performs many facelifts a year and uses very quick, simple techniques that are well received and have minimal recovery. His patients are very satisfied. Surgeon B performs very long procedures using the latest and most invasive techniques available. His patients take longer to recover but are also very happy. Which surgeon is performing the “best” facelift? The answer is both surgeons are able to achieve consistent, high quality results using different approaches. So don’t base your opinion of a surgeon on which procedures he performs. Let’s look at some of the common questions regarding facelift surgery.
When should I have a facelift?
You should consider facelift surgery when you want improvement in your facial situation. You are never too young (well maybe) nor too old to have a facelift. The aging process of the face is determined by genetic factors as well as environmental factors. You have no control over genetics but you can control environmental factors (smoking, sun exposure, skin care regimen, etc.) Younger patients will usually require less invasive procedures for facial rejuvenation. Some evidence exists that having a facelift at a younger age will result in a longer lasting facelift.
Am I too old for a facelift?
As stated above, you are never too old for a facelift as long as you are healthy. Dr. Martin’s oldest facelift patient is 85 years old.
Will I look “pulled” or “windblown” after my facelift?
Absolutely not! Most people want to look like themselves only younger. Few people want a windblown look. A tight, pulled look is very unnatural. Some people believe the tighter the pull the longer the facelift will last. This is not true. A tight, pulled look results from over tightening the skin without any pull on the underlying structures (SMAS). Pulling the skin in the wrong direction (abnormal vectoring) can also result in an abnormal appearance with lines going in the wrong direction. A secondary facelift can sometimes correct a pulled or vectored look.
How long will my facelift last?
The results of a facelift can last forever but you will continue to age and the skin on your face will continue to sag. Some patients with poor elasticity will require a secondary facelift (minor tightening) in as little as 6-12 months following the first facelift. A secondary facelift generally involves simply tightening the skin with minimal alteration to the SMAS.
Is a “mini facelift” effective?
Yes, a mini facelift can be effective but less so then a major facelift. The problem is agreement on what constitutes a mini facelift. Some consider a mini facelift to consist of skin excision only with short incisions. Others consider a mini facelift a secondary lift. One caveat to remember is that some non certified doctors promote the mini lift because they don’t know how to perform a more invasive facelift.
Where will the facelift incisions be made?
Standard facelift incisions start just above the ear at the sideburn, continue down in front of the ear, and circle back under the earlobe and behind the ear. Dr. Martin usually makes the post auricular incision straight up the ear without crossing into the hairline. This allows for the incision to hide completely behind the ear and not be seen when one wears their hair short. Be sure to ask if your incision will show when wearing short hair. This is a very common complaint from facelift patients.
Will a facelift remove wrinkles?
Yes and no. A facelift can stretch the skin allowing for the wrinkles to look less prominent. The only wrinkles that are actually removed are the wrinkles adjacent to the skin that is excised. Most facial wrinkles require soft tissue augmentation (Radiesse, Restylane, Fat, ect.) and or wrinkle reduction (chemical peels, laser, ect.)
Will a facelift improve nasolabial folds or marionette lines?
Yes and no. Most standard facelifts do not affect the nasolabial fold or marionette lines. Some special techniques and a particular type of facelift known as a mid facelift can improve these areas. Usually these areas respond best to soft tissue augmentation.
Most facelifts involve common principals of repositioning deeper structures, removing excess fat, and excising loose skin. Many can be performed under local anesthesia while the patient is awake. The face is infiltrated with anesthetic solution which numbs the face and reduces bleeding allowing for more precise dissection. Incisions are made under the chin and around the ear followed by dissecting the skin away from the deeper structures. The SMAS is then plicated (sutured up) to reposition the jowls and cheek tissue. The skin is then carefully removed and sutured back in place. Excess fat is removed from the neck, followed by tightening of the neck muscles (platysma). All sutures are removed in 5-7 days and recovery takes 1-2 weeks. Pain is minimal. Complications can include bleeding, infection, seroma, tissue loss, and nerve damage. Other tell-tale signs of a facelift which should be avoided include pulling of the external auditory canal, a pixie ear, disappearing sideburn, abnormal vectoring, and abnormal scarring.
A few words of wisdom
- It is very difficult even for a plastic surgeon to determine which techniques work the best without performing a large number of that specific procedure. Ask your surgeon how many facelifts he has performed using specific techniques.
- If you smoke, you may be a poor candidate for a facelift. Even if you quit smoking, you are still at high risk for tissue breakdown and scarring.
- Some patients develop recurrent laxity of the facial skin following a facelift. This may occur as early as 2-6 months following the procedure. It’s important to note that this laxity does not occur from the surgeon not pulling the skin tight enough! Recurrent laxity is more related to your genetic makeup, and there is very little you can do to improve the elasticity of your skin.
- Never leave your sutures in more than 5-7 days. With time, sutures cut through the skin leaving small cuts which heal as “railroad track” scars. These can be very noticeable.
- One serious complication is a hematoma which can lead to tissue necrosis and unacceptable scarring. The most common causes are aspirin, Advil, alcohol, and herbal products, all of which inhibit platelet function. Don’t take any of these products before or after your surgery. Ask your surgeon which other products to avoid.
- Never place a heating pad on your face following your facelift. The skin lacks normal sensation and the heating pad can burn your skin.
- Be sure to ask where your incisions will be located behind your ear. An incision that crosses into the hairline may leave scars which are easily seen if you wear your hair short. Ask about placing your incision totally behind your ear without crossing into the hairline.
If you are considering a facelift in Sharonville or Dayton, choose a surgeon with the skill and experience needed to achieve natural, consistent results. Ask about computer imaging to preview expected results and ask to see before/after photos of actual patients. If you have undergone a facelift and are unhappy with the results, please schedule a consult to see what options are available for correction.