Bad news: There’s no procedure out there that can surpass the incredible results of an artfully performed facelift. However, not everyone is ready to go under the knife. So, what are the options available for those who wish to deter the inevitable signs of aging without prematurely experiencing a full-on facelift? Well, according to New York facial plastic surgeon John Kang, MD, there are quite a few time-tested, FDA-approved alternatives to a traditional facelift surgery.
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“The five alternatives to facelift surgery I utilize in my office are Thermage, Ultherapy, thread lifts, fillers, and two ‘Mini Surgery’ procedures consisting of 3-D volume restoration and re-contouring using fat transfer and lower eyelid fat bag removal,” explains Dr. Kang. Luckily for us, Dr. Kang walked us through each available option, below. Read on!
Thermage & Ultherapy
“Thermage and Ultherapy are both energy-based lifting devices that work by using radio-frequency (Thermage) or Sonar (Ultherapy) energy to heat up collagen and tighten connective tissue below the skin,” says Dr. Kang. “These are ideal in those patients who feel the collagen in their soft tissues are getting too soft and gravitating downward, which can be felt even in early 30s for some patients. Both of these machines are favorites as stand-alone procedures in patients from their 30s to 50s, and are often used in conjunction with Botox and fillers to achieve a greater synergistic effect.”
For patients in their 40s who experience sagging of the midface and visible nasolabial and marionette lines, Thermage and Ultherapy can work wonders. However, some people need a little more than that to get truly drastic results. “To achieve further lifting, thread lifting—using either Silhouette InstaLift or Nova Threads—is recommended,” says Dr. Kang. “The trick to a successful thread lift is understanding the nuances of the mechanism and strength of the threads and creating proper vectors and anchors to create a subtle but definite and natural lift. After completion of one side, patient is brought up to a sitting position so patients can directly visualize and compare the lifted vs non-lifted side as well as with their pre-operative pictures” adds Dr. Kang. Because there’s typically no bruising or swelling post-procedure, Dr. Kang says some patients resume their full activities and return to work on the same day. However, it’s advised to reserve a day to recover just in case some swelling appears.
Fat Transfer & Lower Eyelid Surgery
For those with significant loss of facial volume that extends beyond the reaches of a few tubes of filler, Dr. Kang recommends 3-D facial volume restoration and re-contouring with fat transfer is. “In my clinic fat transfer is usually done under local anesthesia and due to nearly no bruising, recovery is usually no more than a few days,” says Dr. Kang. And if a patient complains of lower eyelid puffiness, Dr. Kang recommends lower eyelid surgery which can be performed under local anesthesia with nearly no bruising and only a few days recovery time. “Incorporating these two ‘Mini Surgical’ procedures in my repertoire of alternatives to facelift surgery is imperative in my practice because in my opinion, the appearance of the fat bag under the eyes and loss of facial volume are truly the initial signs of aging visible in patients as early as late 20s and early 30s.”