Facelifts; non-surgical and surgical skin smoothing options

Posted on the 16 December 2011 at 12:23

Cosmetic surgery alterations are growing at a rapid pace, trending alongside the incredible advances in technology and new medical breakthroughs. Not so long ago, cosmetic surgery was far fetched, unattainable and unrealistic for many women outside of celebrity circles.

This is not the case today however; as many treatments along with greater accessibility means more and more women (and men) are enhancing or rejuvenating their appearances than ever before.

Tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), nose jobs (Rhinoplasty) and breast enlargement are probably some of the more popular treatments, and perhaps facelifts, which are now leading the cosmetic surgery market as one of the most requested procedures. There are now both surgical and non-surgical options available too, depending on the need of the patient.

It is always essential to discus your desired procedure, wants and your circumstances with a qualified and reputable cosmetic surgeon. They will be able to recommend new or different combinations of treatments to tailor your desired results in most cases.

Chronologically, the original facelifts that we think of had a tendency to make patients look constantly surprised. Pulling skin back and tightening it is going to create this appearance without refining it a little more, as is done today. Severe and dated procedures like this removed lines and sagging, however today the procedure is much gentler, gradually refreshing and lifting the skin until a perfect, fresher face is achieved.

With the development of liposuction, facelift surgery has met the progress of other popular procedures. Recovery time is also greatly reduced as procedures have become so much gentler. Once fully recovered, it is not immediately obvious that a patient has undergone surgery either. Often people get compliments along the lines of ‘how well they are looking’ or being asked if they have gone on holiday and returned looking relaxed!

Generally a facelift will work with the contours of the face and create greater definition, or remove jowels or bags. Other combinations of treatments can also be used, like chemical peels to reduce scarring from acne and lines.

Different types of facelifts and how they work

If you are interested in knowing about the nitty-gritty procedure of the most common type of a facelift, read on. First, an incision under the hairline is made just above the ear and curving around it. The skin is then lifted off the underling muscle and fat, lifted and repositioned.
However, despite this being the most ‘everyday’ facelift, the skin does naturally stretch over time, making results not always as long lasted as desired. Despite this, the procedure offers lowered risks to tissues and nerves, and muscle layers can also be put in a better position to encourage long-lasting tightening. Any excess skin which is left over after all of this will be removed followed by incisions closed, ready for healing. (A SMAS facelift works in the similar way - referring to the superficial musculo-aponeurotic system).

Specific areas of the face can also be targeted such as the eyebrows. A temporal facelift can lift drooping or lowered eyebrows, without going to the extent of a full-brow lift. Another procedure is the deep-plane facelift. This is the traditional version, but modified. The surgeon for this will dissect lower, deeper layers of the face, before repositioning underlying muscle and repositioning it. Although there is a slightly increased risk of damaging facial nerves, this can lead to a much more natural look on completion. The advantages of this increasingly popular procedure, is that it works well on older skins, with results often lasting 10-15 years.

If a patient would like to improve their neck, a neck-lift or platysmaplasty (or sometimes called a submentoplasty) is an option. This is where an incision at the earlobe and behind the ear area, before removing any neck cords with a pronounced appearance. Liposuction may also be used at the same time to remove any excess fat from the area. If a patient is thinking of only having a neck lift, it is better if the skin has good elasticity still. If the skin is not so supple, a facelift may also be recommended at the same time.

Liposuction is commonly used in conjunction with facelifts to remove areas containing too much fat. The chin and neck often hold this, and liposuction can sometimes be performed in these areas alone without the invasion of a face or neck lift. This is a much quicker procedure than both facelifts and main-body liposuction. Finer, more delicate cannulas are used in the face and neck areas as it is much more sensitive, and requires greater attention to detail than the same procedure on the thighs, waist or stomach. Minimal scarring is also an advantage.

Facelifts are not only restricted to the traditional platysmaplasty; mid-face lifts and sub-periosteal facelifts are other options. This however does require a prolonged recoverey period as it invades the very deepest layers of the face. Some surgeons do question its benefits, and there is also associated risks including muscle and nerve damage.

An alternative so such drastic surgery is a mini-facelift. Becoming increasingly popular, smaller incisions are made with corresponding quicker healing times. For younger patients this is a good option as the skin is a lot more elastic, than an older patients skin. For the more mature patient with perhaps excessive skin wrinkling or loosening, a mini-face-lift may not provide satisfying results.

The S-lift is (named after the ‘S’ shaped incision) made under the jaw, only if the skin is slightly loose though) is an example of one mini-facelift technique. There is also the MACS lift, good for preventing the look of mild aging, and the Feather Lift. This simply uses sutures under the skin to pull it into position, with much more subtle results. This is also marketed under several different brand names including Contour and APTOS.

A further popular technique is fat transfer, and it’s not as bad as it sounds! Fat is harvested and re-placed from the thighs or belly by injections into the face, restoring plumpness in hollowed areas which are common through weight loss or aging.  Injectable fillers are sometimes used as alternatives too, with speedier healing times.

Non-surgical alternatives

Non-surgical alternatives are also a great option if you don’t want to go all the way with cosmetic surgery. Thermage, a branded non-surgical facelift, tightens the skin with lasers. Radio-frequency waves are targeted to the deeper layers of skin, causing collagen to contract in the skin and tightening it. This can be used effectively as a complimentary procedure to combat typical signs of ageing - redness, wrinkling, unwanted hair, acne scars, age spots and broken blood vessels – however it will not lift or tighten drooping muscle. Wrinkles around the eyes and mouth can be treated this way, so if it is minor skin-smoothing you desire this could be the perfect treatment for you.

Other options include Computerised Micro-Current systems, Microdermobrasion, peels, Facial injections and fillers, IPL and mesotherapy. These techniques will be used either alone or in combination to tackle different signs and indicators of ageing. It works by maximising the skins moisture, tone and elasticity, helping to rejuvenate and soften the skin, eliminating lines and wrinkles.

A common cause of skin appearing older or more damaged than it should, is often due to over exposure to UV rays and also poor skin maintenance. Some techniques used such as microdermabrasion, which gently removes the skins outer layer to reveal a smoother softer layer of skin, will require you to protect your skin from UV more so than normal. Peels work in a similar way and are quick and effective. IPL is age-spot removal, and mesotherapy adds important nutrients and minerals back into the skin to restore it.

A new technique that is being developed is the mesh-lift, which is likely to be one of the next big things in the plastic surgery world. Mesh is inserted under the skin from the hairline, lifting the face via the supporting structure, also dissolving in time.

The range of non-surgical options is constantly increasing as this fast-paced industry develops. Interests in lasers, topical applications and nutrition are ever-popular as patients prefer the quicker recovery time and less invasive surgery.

Cosmetic surgery is booming, and there is little doubt that the range of not only face-lift and related options will appear, but also other general procedure expand as more advanced and effective options appear.

Watch this space!


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