Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Facelifts

Posted January 19, 2018 in Facelift

If we could completely reverse the signs of aging with a few pinches of the syringe, plastic surgery wouldn’t exist—and we’d all look flawless by now. With that said, however, non-surgical facelifts shouldn’t be underestimated. Delaying your first surgical facelift until it’s necessary can help you reduce the need for future revision surgeries. It also reduces the amount of down-time you will need after your procedure. The bottom line? Surgery is in a league of its own when it comes to correcting the more advanced signs of aging, but it’s best used in moderation.

So, how do you know if it’s time for plastic surgery? While only a consultation with a board certified facial plastic surgeon can give you a sure answer, understanding the different capabilities of surgical and non-surgical facelifts is a good place to start. Knowing what a non-surgical facelift can and can’t do can help you build an accurate picture of whether or not this procedure will be able to meet your needs.

What is a Non-Surgical Facelift, and What Can It Do?

Adding to the confusion surrounding anti-aging treatments, the phrase “non-surgical facelift” is something of an umbrella term. Depending on who you talk to, this label can be applied to a diverse array of different injectable treatments, skin rejuvenation procedures, or even something called a “thread lift” (this is a fairly uncommon procedure where sutures are used to lift the skin without any incisions being made). Most commonly, however, a non-surgical facelift involves the use of a neuromodulator (like Botox) to get rid of dynamic wrinkles and dermal fillers (e.g., Juvederm, Voluma, and Restylane) to fill in static wrinkles and areas where facial volume has been lost. Chemical peels or microdermabrasion are usually administered afterwards in order to get rid of areas of uneven skin pigmentation, age spots, fine lines, acne scars, and other superficial imperfections. These treatments also stimulate collagen production, which results in a gentle overall “lift” to the face (collagen is responsible for keeping our skin firm, hydrated, and supple).

A non-surgical facelift can therefore take care of crow’s feet, forehead wrinkles, “smile lines,” and hollows under the eyes and cheekbones. Dermal fillers can also be used to enhance and reshape the lips, correcting any age-related thinning that’s deflated a once plump pout. Now, here’s what a non-surgical facelift can’t do:

  • Get rid of loose skin. If facial plastic surgeons could remove loose skin without making any incisions, they’d be classified as magicians rather than medical professionals. While both dermal fillers and chemical peels can tighten the skin somewhat, there’s a limit to their efficacy in this area. Let’s face it: If you have distinctly visible jowls or a hanging fold of loose neck skin, you’ll probably be pretty underwhelmed if these areas are lifted by just a few millimeters. The only answer to sagging skin is to have a surgical procedure, usually a combined face and neck lift, wherein excess skin is removed.
  • Lift the underlying musculature of your face. While dermal fillers can fill in some of the hollows that form as the facial muscles “drop” (and take facial fat with them), they can’t actually adjust the position of the muscles themselves. If you really want your cheeks to sit where they used to, you’ll need to have a deep plane facelift. This modern update on traditional facelift methods involves actually releasing and adjusting the SMAS system (the group of muscles that occupy the mid-face region), not just stretching the skin. In simpler terms, this operation puts everything back where it used to be; as a result, your face will still look like, well, your face, just ten to fifteen years younger.
  • Correct drooping eyelids. If you’re starting to notice drooping eyelids: A brow lift and/or eyelid lift. Just like loose face and neck skin have to be literally removed in order to create a lifted look, there’s no nonsurgical way to deal with drooping eyelids. You’ll need a highly skilled and experienced board certified facial plastic surgeon to deftly cut away excess tissue and reshape your brow eyelids so that you look completely awake again. Scary? Yes. Extremely effective? Double yes.

Ultimately, if you feel like your face and neck have started an irreversible journey southward, you’re probably ready for your first facelift consultation. If, on the other hand, you’re only dealing with a few lines, puckers, and hollows, you’re in luck—a non-surgical facelift will keep you feeling selfie-ready for at least a few years to come.

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Dr. David Gilpin is an award-winning, board-certified facial plastic surgeon and a leader in facial plastic surgery in the Nashville, TN area. Dr. Gilpin performs surgeries at our accredited surgical suite for a private, welcoming experience. During a consultation, Dr. Gilpin will work with you to explore your cosmetic options and achieve your most confident self yet. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Gilpin and learn more about your facial cosmetic surgery options, contact our office by calling or filling out our online form.

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