When La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD started in private practice some 40-odd years ago, the average age of his facelift patient was, as he pegs it, “well into their 60s.”
Today, it’s late-40s.
“Yes, you have to realize I’m in Southern California, but I think it’s fair to say most plastic surgeons are seeing the general phenomenon of people coming in earlier,” he says. “Because of the internet, because of social media and because of the media in general, there is a far greater awareness of aesthetic options today.”
“On the flipside, there is also a lot of misinformation out there.”
While it all comes down to your anatomy and individual goals, Dr. Singer says one common theme these patients share is that they aren’t interested in looking “over-operated” on and aim to get natural results. “There’s been a refinement of the procedure over the years, and we often combine the facelift with other treatments for a more harmonious look.”
Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD also praises “modern techniques tailored specifically for the younger face” as making “the entire process easier, more reliable and yielding more natural-looking results,” saying that there are “many reasons” the younger demo is opting for the facelift route.
“There is the option of having a facelift done in a private procedure room without general anesthesia. A ‘comfortably-awake’ procedure using tumescent lidocaine anesthesia and ProNox laughing gas—aka, the patient is not ‘put out’—can shorten and ease recovery, in my experience,” he says, adding that, at his practice, an “in-office facelift” makes his entire office available, which typically includes skin-improving lasers that fall under a single recovery.
Another, much buzzed-about, timely source for seeking out a facelift at a younger age, according to Dr. Hartman: “Of course, there’s no question, that the age of Zoom conferences, Instagram and FaceTime have promoted greater importance to one’s desire to put their ‘best face forward.’”
“We are definitely seeing more cases of 40-year-old facelifts,” concurs New York facial plastic surgeon Dilip D. Madnani, MD, who pinpoints 2021 as a year that, in his experience, has had a consistent lifestyle and aesthetic theme: “The last year has been ‘renovation season’ for most people—and faces are part of it.”
One more specific demo looking for the facial-reno route at Dr. Madnani’s practice: Those flying in from out of state.
“We’ve really streamlined our virtual consultation protocols and pre-op protocols and we have videos for patients to look at online,” he says. “I have also adjusted my surgery techniques to minimize post-op care and after-care, so patients can essentially leave after eight days.”
While New York plastic surgeon Daniel Maman, MD generally does not perform facelifts on women younger than 50—“there are good nonsurgical options that can bridge a woman until she reaches her 50s and becomes a better surgical candidate,” he says—he has most certainly seen an increase in patients coming in and requesting facelifts. “As with most facial aesthetic treatments, patients have been looking at themselves on Zoom for the last year—and now they are concerned about being seen without their masks on.”
New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD also lists the “mask coming off” and the end of social-distancing requirements as two big reasons he’s seeing patients scheduling any type of facial rejuvenation this summer. “Whether returning to normal social activities, looking for a new job or just looking for a convenient time to recover from surgery while the kids are in a summer camp, it seems to be a perfect time for a facelift.”
When it comes to facelifts, specifically, Dr. Vasyukevich says there continues to be a significant interest in the procedure with both the younger and more traditional 50 to 60-year-old demo (likewise, the Aesthetic Society lists it as the top surgical procedure performed in 2020 for the 70-plus age group).
“It definitely seems like facelifts are getting younger by the day. On my consultation days, it is not unusual for me to see several patients in their early-30s requesting a facelift. Most of these younger patients are already quite experienced with cosmetic procedures and have already tried several nonsurgical facial rejuvenation treatments such as Botox, fillers and high-energy skin-tightening treatments.”
Forces of Nature
In addition to facelifts, Westborough, MA facial plastic surgeon Min S. Ahn, MD is seeing younger people seeking mini-lifts and necklifts—and says the trend has seen an uptick in almost every age demographic during the time frame of the past 12–14 months. He credits it to a “confluence of forces” at play, including more time working at home, more time spent in front of Zoom and the fact that we are still wearing masks in certain situations, which can successfully hide bruising and swelling post-surgery. “In fact, just today I had to convince a 34-year-old woman to wait a few years to have a neck lift and to consider minimally invasive options first.”
While Dr. Ahn admits “most would consider people in their 30s and 40s to be too young to have surgery” (and agrees that, in general, he also categorizes it as an “accurate statement”) he explains there “are younger people who are surgical candidates not because they have experienced an early aging process, but instead because they have unique anatomy such as a full neck with loose skin that all of their family members have.”
“The youngest person we have performed a neck lift on was 38 and she had the ‘family neck’ with excess fat and loose neck skin that her mother and sisters had as well.”
Similarly, Los Angeles plastic surgeon Peter Lee, MD says there is a definite transition some patients choose to make between nonsurgical and a longer-lasting solution—and sources a somewhat simple philosophy: “I think people are living longer and living more productive lives both personally and professionally,” he says. “The desire for anti-aging intervention is growing. When surgery was the only option, I think the fear of surgery dissuaded people from exploring the treatments. However, with advancement and subsequent popularity of nonsurgical treatments (e.g., Botox and fillers), the demographics of people seeking anti-aging procedures has exploded. Once they become comfortable with nonsurgical treatments and are seeking longer and more definitive options, a facelift becomes the natural solution.”
“In general, younger people seeking youth is not about misaligned addiction to youth, but the older appearance creates an image of apathy and lethargy,” he says. “The mind and heart are younger than the appearance—and if there are solutions, people are willing to explore options such as facelift.”