Facelift surgery, medically referred to as a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic procedure designed to make the face and neck look more youthful. This is accomplished by smoothing signs of facial aging, including loose skin, wrinkles, and jowls along the lower face and jawline. Over time, forces like gravity, sun exposure, use of tobacco, and simply the natural aging process can cause the skin to deteriorate and make you appear older than you actually are. Increased skin laxity, the thinning of tissue, lost facial volume, and wrinkles are among many factors that can mask your youthful features.

For those seeking a more refreshed look, facelift surgery can be a powerful solution to revitalize your appearance. This procedure is designed to reposition and reshape the underlying facial tissues, thereby tightening and smoothing the skin. Plastic surgeon Geoffrey Leber, MD, FACS performs a facelift to enhance your natural beauty, rather than alter the character of your face.

What is a Facelift?

A facelift is performed to reposition fat and weakened musculature in the face, while reducing excess skin causing jowls. This can provide smoother, sleeker facial contours and even potentially make patients look up to ten years younger than their actual age. In general, patients usually consider facelift surgery when their appearance doesn’t align with how youthful they may feel on the inside. Thanks to evolutions in facelift surgery, results from the procedure can be more elegant and natural-looking than ever. While the procedure is most often performed for patients in their forties and fifties, many individuals, younger and older, can also achieve beautiful results.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Facelift?

If you want to smooth signs of aging in the face and neck, a facelift may help you achieve the refreshed look you desire. Despite many preconceptions, there is no “appropriate” age to undergo a facelift. The procedure is typically suitable for patients who are in adequate health to undergo surgery and wish to improve the following concerns:

  • Loose or sagging skin in the mid-face and/or along the jawline
  • Loose skin and deep creases in the neck and/or under the chin
  • Creases that extend from the nose to the corner of the mouth (“marionette lines”)
  • Deep creases under the eyes that create an appearance of constant fatigue

Dr. Leber personalizes facelift surgery to accommodate each patient’s respective needs. Those who exhibit milder signs of facial aging may be able to achieve their cosmetic ideal with less invasive options from our medical spa, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and JUVÉDERM® dermal fillers. These more conservative treatments can temporarily smooth wrinkles and restore lost facial volume for exceptional and natural-looking results. After diligently assessing your aesthetic concerns and unique anatomy, Dr. Leber can develop a treatment plan to comprehensively fulfill your goals in the most effective way possible.

What Can a Facelift Do for Me?

A youthful facial appearance is often comprised of fuller cheeks with less volume in the lower face, creating the shape of an inverted triangle. However, as time passes, volume in the cheeks diminish and appear more in the lower jowl region. While there are many treatments to combat signs of aging, facelift surgery generally produces the most effective and long-term results. Depending on your unique needs, a facelift can achieve the following:

  • Tighten lax skin in the face, neck, and jawline
  • Smooth wrinkles, creases, folds, and fine lines
  • Reduce excess or displaced fat accumulation in the cheeks, jowls, and neck

In general, a facelift can make you look as much as ten years younger, restoring a more rejuvenated version of yourself. Widely regarded as the most enduring way to smooth jowls and sagging skin, a facelift can minimize or erase signs of age to help you look as young as you feel.

Types of Facelifts

Men and women considering facelift surgery have different needs, goals, and anatomical indicators; therefore, the best procedure for each patient will vary. A facelift is typically customized based on the extent of each person’s concerns and Dr. Leber will be able to discuss the most ideal procedure for you in a consultation. 

Mini Facelift

During a mini facelift, small incisions are placed within the hairline to improve aging in the lower face and neck. This can help you achieve a sharper jawline and more youthful appearance without the full recovery period required after an average facelift. While both incision length and the healing period are often shorter than a full facelift, this procedure is not appropriate for patients who have more extensive signs of hanging skin and tissue relaxation.  

SMAS Facelift

An SMAS facelift is a highly effective technique to lift, smooth, and rejuvenate the face with long-lasting results. Rather than use outdated techniques that simply pull back the skin, an SMAS facelift elevates lax and descended soft tissue at the deeper levels to restore underlying support for the face. This comprehensive approach allows patients to look up to ten years younger with results outlasting decades. In performing the SMAS technique, Dr. Leber also incorporates facial fat grafting to replenish lost volume in the cheeks and mid-face. This not only repairs jowls, but also restores the full, “inverted triangle” look in the face often associated with youth. 

How is Facelift Surgery Performed?

While Dr. Leber usually performs a facelift under general anesthesia, some cases may allow for local anesthesia or sedation techniques. Depending on which area of the face is being addressed, Dr. Leber will carefully place incisions in the hairline of the temple or the earlobe to minimize visible scarring after the procedure. Lost volume in the upper face is replaced with facial fat grafting techniques. He will then reposition the layer of soft tissue covering the facial muscles in order to restore the youthful characteristics of your facial skin. Lax facial tissue is elevated in an upward vertical direction to reduce a jowl appearance and help restore the youthful shape of an inverted triangle. Excess skin and pockets of fat are removed, and the skin is carefully tightened over the area to avoid an “over-pulled” look and diminish a sagging facial appearance. Facelift surgery generally takes approximately three to four hours, but the estimated procedure time depends on the exact nature of your treatment plan.

Patient Results

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What Can I Expect From the Facelift Recovery Period?

Facelift surgery can be an outpatient procedure; however, some individuals may require an overnight stay. Following surgery, bandages are placed over the incisions and a narrow tube may be utilized to drain excess fluid and prevent infection. Post-operative bruising and swelling is normal and typically subside within the first two weeks after the procedure. Any discomfort can be managed with ice packs and oral pain medication.

Results from a facelift can be immediately apparent, but the cosmetic outcome usually improves as healing progresses and swelling dissipates. Patients can expect a full return to normal activity in two to three weeks. Dr. Leber’s extensive experience in cosmetic surgery typically allows a natural-looking and rejuvenated facial aesthetic without looking “tight” or “overdone.” This younger-looking facial appearance can be long-lasting, but individuals can prolong the results of facelift surgery by limiting unprotected sun exposure and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.

How Long Does a Facelift Last?

A facelift typically provides noticeable rejuvenation for 10 to 15 years, although the longevity of the results will depend on your unique rate of aging as well as your lifestyle. Patients who smoke, artificially tan, or spend long periods of time outdoors without sun protection may experience facial aging at a faster rate than others. The natural effects of age will continue after facelift surgery, but patients who have undergone the procedure usually experience lasting results and feel no need to undergo additional facial rejuvenation surgery. Dr. Leber recommends practicing a healthy lifestyle and using sunscreen, as well as other quality skin products, to maintain your youthful appearance well into the future.

Will I Have Visible Facelift Scars?

One of the many benefits of facelift surgery is the ability to hide incisions in undetectable locations, minimizing the amount of visible scarring after incisions are fully healed. Depending on the extent of facial aging addressed, incisions are typically camouflaged with short scars placed in the natural contours around the ears while avoiding longer scars in the hairline of the temple and behind the ears. Dr. Leber’s goal is to produce an outcome that looks as natural as possible, and he is very diligent with regard to minimizing the amount of noticeable scarring.

Until your facelift scars mature, keeping your incisions clean, covered, and hydrated are key to speeding up the healing process. Dr. Leber will give you more information on post-operative wound care after your procedure. Most scars fade over time and are barely detectable, even up close.

How Much Does a Facelift Cost?

The price of a facelift can range from $8,000 to $12,000 depending on your needs and the facelift technique used during your procedure. Dr. Leber can discuss the best technique for your cosmetic goals during your consultation, after which a member of our office team can provide you with an accurate estimate of your surgery. While insurance companies don’t offer coverage for cosmetic procedures, our practice accepts plastic surgery financing from CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending. These healthcare lending companies allow qualified patients to choose from a selection of short- and long-term payment plans for the arrangement that works best with their budgetary concerns. Please call our team if you have any questions about the facelift procedure or consultation process at our practice locations in Boston or Scottsdale.

Is a Facelift Without Surgery Possible?

Although cosmetic injectables are often used to refresh the face, there is currently no non-surgical facelift that can match the results of a surgical procedure. Minimally invasive alternatives can be effective temporarily, but a facelift is currently the gold standard in achieving years-long rejuvenation. That said, dermal fillers like JUVÉDERM® and Restylane® can be utilized to achieve mild enhancement for patients who wish to increase facial volume or fill wrinkles. These products are often used in complement with each other during a cosmetic treatment referred to as a “liquid facelift.” Touch-up sessions will be necessary to maintain the facial rejuvenation achieved, but injectables can be ideal for individuals who would rather avoid surgery and/or downtime.

What’s the Best Age for a Facelift?

There is no “perfect” age for a facelift, as everyone ages at a unique rate depending on their genetics and unique lifestyle factors. The need for a facelift is usually assessed based on whether you are bothered by certain indications of aging in the lower face and neck, such as sagging skin along the jawline, loose neck skin, or deep creases around the nose and mouth, among other concerns.

Generally speaking, patients who smoke or who regularly suntan may develop early signs of aging relatively faster than other individuals, even if they are both the same age. This is due to how certain activities may negatively affect the skin’s natural elasticity, sometimes causing loose skin and wrinkles to develop prematurely.

In some cases, patients can resolve their concerns with nothing more than non-surgical dermal fillers, while other individuals may consider a full facelift and neck lift to produce their desired outcome. The best way to know for sure whether you may benefit from a facelift is to consult with Dr. Leber in an initial appointment.

Facelift Alternatives

Although a facelift is considered the premier solution to treat the lower face and neck, the procedure is not designed to improve aging in the upper facial planes. Fortunately, other facial plastic surgery options can be performed instead of—or in conjunction with—a facelift to further refresh the region around the eyes and brow. Additional cosmetic concerns that cannot be corrected with a facelift include: 

  • Drooping brows caused by loose, excess skin: If descended brows have given you an angry or aged look, a brow lift can make you appear more approachable by smoothing frown lines and furrows. 
  • Sagging of the upper eyelids: Heavy upper lids and “hooding” can be corrected with upper blepharoplasty, which is designed to restore a brighter and more energetic appearance. 
  • Puffy eyes or dark circles: These signs of exhaustion and aging can also be improved with lower blepharoplasty—a procedure performed to smooth the contour under the lower eyelids.  
  • Hollow tear troughs or flat cheek contours: Facial fat grafting can be a dynamic way to restore volume in the mid-face while achieving results that often last longer than cosmetic fillers. Since your own natural tissue is being used, fat injections typically produce long-term results.  

Dr. Leber can tailor your treatment plan to address all of your aesthetic concerns and provide all-encompassing facial rejuvenation. Multiple procedures can often be completed during the same surgery depending on each patient’s individual needs and preferences.

Complements to Facelift Surgery

A facelift can be an excellent procedure to undergo in isolation, or as part of a combined treatment plan. For some patients, the best results are seen when a facelift is paired with additional treatments that emphasize the jawline contour, such as neck liposuction and/or chin implants. If the youthful angles of your face are being obscured by excess fat, you may consider adding neck liposuction to your facelift. This can provide a slimmer and more contoured facial profile, helping you age more gracefully from every angle. Another option is to combine a lower facelift and chin implants, which can benefit patients who are bothered by a weak, recessed, or diminutive chin. A custom chin implant can not only help enhance facial balance, but it can also make the face and neck look more defined when utilized to complement a facelift.

Does a Facelift Get Rid of Wrinkles?

A facelift can address many different signs of aging, but the procedure isn’t primarily considered a solution for wrinkles. First and foremost, a facelift is typically performed to correct skin and tissue laxity, as well as age-related volume loss. This can help reduce jowls and deep creases along the lower face, such as marionette lines and nasolabial folds; however, wrinkles and fine lines are more often successfully treated with minimally invasive options, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic and fillers. These injectables can be highly effective in smoothing wrinkles and softening fine lines caused by overactive facial muscles. If desired, Dr. Leber can include injections in your treatment plan to reduce wrinkles and further rejuvenate the face.

Checklist for Choosing a Top Facelift Surgeon

When it comes to selecting a qualified plastic surgeon to perform your facelift, patients in Boston have endless options. The wide range of plastic surgery providers available can sometimes make it difficult to determine the right facelift surgeon for your needs. Although the research process can seem daunting, the following tips can help ensure you select a plastic surgeon who is experienced, highly trained, and well-equipped to achieve the results you desire. Before making your decision:

  • Check certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS), which assures quality training and credentials.
  • Ensure fellowship training in aesthetic plastic surgery to further confirm experience and advanced training.
  • Ask how frequently they perform facelift surgery during your consultation. 
  • Explore their before-and-after photos from the facelift procedure. 
  • Read reviews from previous facelift patients to determine their satisfaction after the procedure. 
  • Ensure you feel confident and comfortable under their care. 

Additional Facelift FAQs

Should I get a neck lift with my facelift?

The face and neck often age together, so it’s very common to combine a neck lift with facelift surgery. However, not all patients who undergo a facelift necessarily require a neck lift to gain a sleeker, smoother facial profile. If you have questions about whether you could benefit from a neck lift, Dr. Leber can evaluate your concerns and provide a recommendation during your consultation.

When can I wear makeup after facelift surgery?

Everyone heals at a different rate, but it generally takes 10 to 14 days before incisions are healed enough to begin applying makeup. However, Dr. Leber will provide you with guidance as he monitors your recovery in follow-up appointments.

How should I sleep after a facelift?

In general, patients who undergo facial plastic surgery should sleep on their backs with their heads slightly elevated above chest level. This elevation can be achieved by propping pillows behind the head, or sleeping in a recliner. Dr. Leber will give you detailed aftercare instructions to help ensure your recovery proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Can I naturally slow down facial aging?

Although natural remedies will not stop facial aging completely or replicate the results of a facelift, certain measures can slow down the rate at which signs of aging begin to appear. We recommend wearing sun protection every day, including high-SPF sunscreens, hats, sunglasses, etc. Artificial tanning and unprotected sun exposure can greatly damage the skin, often resulting in a poor skin tone and texture. Smoking is also a major factor that prematurely ages your skin and harms your skin health, so we strongly advise refraining from tobacco use.

What are the risks of facelift surgery?

It’s important to weigh the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery before making a decision to undergo the facelift procedure. The risks associated with a facelift are similar to the complications possible after any surgery, including the chance of infection, poor wound healing, or loss of sensation, among other adverse events. While the risk of complications exists, they are exceedingly rare — especially if you’re under the care of a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon.

Contact Us

To learn more about how facelift surgery can help you minimize key signs of aging, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Leber, please contact our Boston or Scottsdale practices today.

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