Even though nonsurgical facial rejuvenation treatments have gained popularity in recent years, facelift surgery remains one of the most popular procedures year after year. At our practice in West Des Moines, the facelift rates high on the list of most-requested cosmetic enhancements.
Fortunately, today’s facelift techniques and results have advanced well beyond those that once produced an unnatural, “wind tunnel” look. Celebrities who undergo numerous plastic surgery procedures and have the classic, overly tight appearance contribute to the old notion that a facelift simply stretches the skin tight.
Even though a “skin only” facelift procedure might still be best for certain patients, the modern facelift works with the tissues and muscles below the skin to create a refreshed, natural look. I’ll describe the different techniques in this blog post and explain how fillers can also be combined with facial plastic surgery to enhance the outcome.
How Facelift Surgery Has Evolved
Facelift techniques remained largely the same for about the first 60 years of the last century. As the procedure gained popularity during the latter half of the 20th century, some surgeons developed techniques that created more natural-looking results. French surgeon Dr. Paul Tessier introduced what would become the modern facelift with a technique called the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS) facelift. The SMAS is the underlying structure that can be lifted and re-positioned during surgery.
Over the past 30 years, facial plastic surgeons have continued to refine the SMAS technique, focusing on making the procedure as minimally invasive as possible while still producing attractive results. Today, these improved techniques also reduce healing time and can be used to target specific areas, such as the chin or jowls.
The primary options for facelift surgery involve the location and length of the incisions.
Full Facelift (Cheek-Neck Lift)
With a traditional facelift, we make incisions in front of and behind the ears, curving them so they’re naturally disguised by a patient’s hairline (in some cases, we may also make a small incision under the chin). These incisions allow us to address the underlying architecture of the face and neck, tightening muscles and connective tissue and then gently re-draping the skin. In many cases, we also perform facial liposuction to remove excess fat.
Mini or S-Lift Facelift
Men and women with less sagging on their lower faces and necks may be good candidates for a technique called the S-Lift. The shorter incision is limited to the area around the ear and doesn’t extend into the hairline. This technique requires less recovery time than a full facelift.
Enhancing Your Results
With either option, we may use dermal fillers to restore volume to the face during the surgery. This also helps create more natural-looking results. We may also recommend complementary procedures for the upper face such as a brow lift or eyelid lift to enhance your facelift results.
You can get a good sense of the types of results we get by viewing more before-and-after photos of facelift patients who have come to our practice. To make sure you get the most pleasing results, it’s important to choose a board-certified facial plastic surgeon with extensive experience performing facelift surgery.