Facelift surgery is often perceived as the pinnacle of treating changes caused by facial aging. The surgery does require investment in time and resources, so it’s natural for someone considering a facelift to inquire about how long the benefits of the surgery should last. I’ll discuss how I counsel my patients as to the longevity of facelift surgery for their individual situations.
I’ve been in practice in Manhattan and Long Island for over 25 years. I’ve been performing facelifts throughout my career, and have brought my own innovations into the procedure such as performing facelift surgery under local anesthesia with LITE IV sedation instead of general anesthesia. Modifying different types of facelift incisions, and applying advanced healing materials for better incision healing. These have all helped make post-surgery recovery easier and faster for my patients, without compromising the quality or longevity of results.
Oftentimes people assume facelifts as being permanent. However, no cosmetic procedure is truly permanent since no procedure stops the aging process. I stress how the objective of a facelift from my personal aesthetic is to help patients look like younger versions of themselves. This means I strive to maintain their individual, unique facial character.
How Long Does a Facelift Last?
Generally speaking, I’d estimate the benefits of a facelift can last 5-10 years. There are individual factors affecting the perception of longevity for each patient, in particular the age at which the facelift was performed.
The timing of when in a person’s life a facelift is recommended in my practice has changed as other aesthetic procedures have been introduced. For example, to compensate for bone and soft tissue volume loss associated with aging in the mid thirties and later, I use long lasting injectable fillers, which I place at the bone level using a technique called Structural Volumizing, also called the Y Lift. The results from Structural Volumizing can actually appear comparable to a surgical facelift.
Generally a facelift is recommended for significant changes in the skin, muscle, and soft tissue which results in laxity and downward descent, which tends to happen from age 50 and older. There are some cases where a younger person may have a limited facelift due to genetic factors which cause earlier tissue laxity.
Deep Plane Facelift Before and After
It’s common for patients inquiring about facelift surgery to be aware that there is something called, “tightening the muscle” for a facelift to be performed optimally. This means that any facelift operation involves some manipulation of a very important support structure called the SMAS, or the superficial musculoaponeurotic system. You can think of it as the foundation that helps reinforce and support the position of the skin that is being moved upwards. There is a lot of finesse to facelift surgery. The objective is to optimize the aesthetic by repositioning, with improvement in the neck angle and jawline, while minimizing the visibility of the incisions, and preventing any distortion of the earlobe.
How Long is Facelift Recovery?
I routinely perform my facelift procedures under local anesthesia with LITE IV sedation, so patients can recover more quickly than they would if the surgery was performed under general anesthesia. By doing this, our patients are able to leave our in-office operating suite in about 1-2 hours after surgery, with a small facial bandage and go home to recover. This is in contrast to general anesthesia where it’s routine for you to have to stay overnight in a facility with facial drains, and a nurse to monitor you.
My facelift patients will generally experience limited swelling and some mild bruising. They usually return to work and their normal routine in about a week to 2 weeks. Technique combined with the application of stem cell-based wound healing technology such as extracellular matrix and PRP contributes to this quicker recovery. As with any surgery, the healing process continues for about 1 year.
Regardless of facelift technique, the skin and underlying tissue does relax over the course of 1 year, since facial movement and tissue elasticity creates a certain level of softening of the initial higher level of tissue tone right after surgery. I educate my patients to expect this before surgery, and to remember that young faces aren’t tight or pulled faces. A younger face has a youthful appearance based on facial balance and skin quality.
It’s important to recognize that once the soft tissue and skin is repositioned after facelift, there is additional opportunity afterwards to further improve your appearance by addressing volume loss. As we get older, facial volume from bone, muscle, fat, and soft tissue diminishes. Many times, I actually combine volume enhancement with facelift surgery through the placement of implants and cosmetic fillers.
How Do You Fix Lost Facial Volume?
For the purpose of restoring facial volume related to bone loss, I perform a specific technique called Structural Volumizing. This is an approach where long lasting cosmetic fillers such as Juvederm Ultra Plus or Juvederm Voluma are placed much deeper than with traditional techniques. This means that the fillers are placed at the same level as facial implants, which is just above the bone structure, and under the muscle layer. I’m able to create more defined facial volume and structure. Traditional placement of facial fillers is in the soft tissue layer just beneath the skin.
The filler in the soft tissue space can shift, and can make you look doughy and pillowy. In contrast, I perform Structural Volumizing to create a stable and defined contour. I often see people who’ve had their facelift performed elsewhere and question why they don’t look as good as they had hoped. For these patients, I routinely place filler at the cheeks, chin, and jawline. Their facelift results look much better because there is improvement in the underlying facial structure. This approach has been a relief for many people who had facelift surgery and thought they’d need to have another facelift surgery. Instead, in less than 30 minutes in an exam room, they look significantly better with Structural Volumizing.
While the benefits of a facelift can be present for a long time, it’s important to remember that a facelift does not address bone volume loss, or stop the aging process. It’s important to have a proper evaluation to look at the different aspects of facial aging. In my practice, the long-term strategy after facelift surgery integrates volume correction and other non-surgical procedures to help my patients look their best.