Modern-day facelift results are so imperceptible that after a short time away from friends and family, one can reemerge looking fresh-faced with no signs of surgery. “You’ll be able to tell the patient looks much younger, and they might appear as if they’ve lost weight, done a cleanse or just arrived home from the most relaxing vacation of their life,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Andrew Jacono, MD. And while there are various options for the degree of facelift, many patients approaching 50 are opting for at least one version of the ultimate rejuvenator to avoid the need for a procedure in their 60s and 70s.
Average Age of Facelift Patients: 51–64*
Procedure Time: Two to five hours, depending on the procedure
Recovery: According to the experts, expect a minimum of two weeks before you can be Zoom-ready again. It may take a few months for noticeable swelling and bruising to go down, and up to six months for scars to fade.
Results: The final outcome can last upwards of 10 years, but as many surgeons note, as you continue to age, you will always appear younger than your chronological age.
Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD says mini-facelifts are designed to improve a targeted concern, like mild-to-moderate jowling. Dr. Nguyen recommends the procedure to patients in their 40s who may be in a transition zone. “This is a good option for when you’re starting to get jowly, your neck is starting to get loose, and Botox and filler aren’t working the same way for you anymore,” he adds.
“A mid-facelift primarily works on lifting the cheeks,” New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD explains. “It could have some limited effect on improving the jowls and has no effect on neck laxity.” Dr. Hartman adds that many surgeons prefer to perform, newer “extended” full facelifts, which can better address the midface and neck.
Chicago plastic surgeon Michael Byun, MD says one rule for a mid-facelift is that you cannot just repair one area of the cheek; you must also address the areas north and south of cheek to attain a significant result. “Meaning, if the skin on the cheek is sagging, you should also address the lower eye area and the mouth, or you will not achieve the full effect.”
“The meaning of the terms ‘mid-facelift’ and ‘mini-lift’ vary from patient to patient and how the surgery is performed, and what it entails differs from surgeon to surgeon,” adds La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD.
A lower facelift addresses the areas below the mouth down to the neck, including the nasolabial folds, jowls, jawline, under the chin and the neck. “This procedure creates a defined jawline, tightens the neck, smooths deep wrinkles, and softens the corners of the mouth,” explains Dr. Jacono.
“The term facelift is misleading to many people,” says Dr. Smith. “The facelift most people think of is actually a cheek-neck lift. When a patient says a ‘full facelift,’ they usually mean they want to address the entire face, including their eyes and brow.” Dr. Jacono adds that many patients may also want to rejuvenate the upper third of their face with a browlift or eyelid lift: “It’s like renovating a kitchen: Oftentimes when you upgrade one area, it calls attention to other areas that also need updating.”
SMAS vs. Deep Plane
You might hear terms like “SMAS lift” and “deep plane technique,” but not understand what they mean. The SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) technique means, “the tissue deep under the skin is either tightened, partially removed, elevated, or redirected to get support,” explains Dr. Singer. “The excess skin is removed and sutured in a slightly different direction to avoid a pulled, artificial look.” Dr. Smith notes, “Lifting this muscular area also tightens the neck.”
For a deep plane facelift, Dr. Jacono says both the skin and muscle are lifted and repositioned together as one unit. “It is a more technically difficult procedure.”
Making the Right Choice
Dr. Singer notes that what may be an ideal approach for one patient is not necessarily the same for someone else. “Rather than focusing on technique, what is more important is the qualification, experience and artistry of the board-certified plastic surgeon you choose,” he adds. “Artistic, natural-looking results must be tailored to the patient’s anatomy.”