Oct 26, 2016

Not Your Mother's Facelift

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By Melissa Chapman

As a sophomore in high school, (way back in the late 1980s,) I will never forget what it was like to witness a friend’s mother’s transformation post-facelift. Her mother, (who I will refer to as “Julie”) had just gone through a divorce and I remember her telling her daughter and me that she just felt like she needed to be refreshed. At the time I thought, why not just go to the cosmetics counter at the mall and get a mini makeover- or go to the salon and get a new haircut and color? Little did I know weeks later I would be at my friend’s house as she was feeding Julie dinner through a straw while her mother moaned, groaned, and begged for painkillers. As I watched Julie, who had essentially morphed into a swollen and bruised shell of her former self-recuperate, I remember thinking — there is NO way I would ever subject myself to any kind of pain in the name of beauty.

About three weeks after her facelift, I saw Julie again. The transformation was, in a word, MIRACULOUS. It was like the clock had been turned back ten years - and those fine lines, her turkey-like neck, the jiggly jowls, the sunken eye sockets, the low hanging forehead… they were all GONE! But she didn’t look tight or as though she had just come out of a wind tunnel. She simply looked like herself - just a softer and more youthful version. There was also a discernible change in her attitude as though getting her face “lifted” also “lifted” her spirit. Sure she had to go through a painful recovery process - but doesn’t every hard-earned goal require some kind of sacrifice?!

Fast forward to 2016 and as a 42-year-old woman I still vividly recall Julie’s facelift reawakening and it has me pondering just what advancements have been made in the procedure, AKA the holy grail of plastic surgery. So if you are a woman of a certain age and you moisturize, avoid the sun, don’t smoke, have had Botox treatments and a couple of fillers and feel like the next logical step is a facelift, then read on! To answer all of your questions Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Westchester Medical Center, Associate Professor of Surgery, New York Medical College, deconstructs this not-so-simple procedure and shares the different types of facelifts and potential side effects and risks involved.

What is a Facelift?
According to Dr. Alizadeh, a facelift refers to a surgical procedure that repositions the soft tissue (skin, fat, muscle) of the lower face to re-establish a rejuvenated contour of the face and neck. Need an analogy? Think of it as similar to straightening out a tablecloth on a table.

Who is the ideal candidate?
Someone who is usually between the ages of 40-70 and has moderate to severe loss of midface prominence, with increased jowls, neck skin and platysma (neck muscle) banding.

Most Popular Facelift Techniques
“Although there are many different types of facelifts, the type of facelift I perform most frequently employs a minimally invasive approach to lift the underlying structures of the face (named SMAS) to their natural position while adding a patient’s own soft tissue to strategically augment the areas around the mouth and cheeks that descend over time,” explains Dr. Alizadeh. “A more novel and recent approach is the so-called liquid face lift which incorporates the liberal use of fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm to strategically fill the areas of soft tissue deflating as a result of aging. It requires minimal downtime, but has short-term results of 7-12 months.”

Types of facelifts
According to Dr. Alizadeh, here is what you need to know about different types of facelifts:
The deep plane lift involves structures closer to the bone. However, it has fallen out of favor because of longer recovery time usually related to increase swelling from this operation.

  • The short scar lift, which is minimally invasive, but may not be able to get rid of all the extra skin.
  • The midface or cheek lift is great for the midface but does not address the neck.
  •  The thread lift simply does not last and may cause static facial deformity.
  • Endoscopic facelifts usually mean deeper facelift planes and again, do not address the skin-related problems.
Risks and Recovery
Dr. Alizadeh notes the reported risks include scarring, infection, bleeding, skin or nerve damage although these are extremely rare. Of course he adds the risks are minimized by having your procedure performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon with plenty of experience and expertise in the particular procedure you plan to have. The recovery can be anywhere from 1-2 weeks which mostly involves swelling and bruising to resolve.

Questions EVERY patient should ask prior to getting a facelift
Before entering into this procedure, Dr. Alizadeh urges you to ask a few questions: Is the surgeon board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery? How much experience does he/she have with this type of surgery? Can they refer you to someone who has had experience with this particular office and staff and surgery center and was that patient’s experience positive?

After chatting with Dr. Alizadeh, it is clear that these new rounds of facelift procedures are nothing like our mother’s lifts and therefore I think getting a facelift is most definitely in my future!
To find a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area with experience performing a facelift, use the Find A Surgeon tool.


Article published in partnership with SmartBeautyGuide.com.

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