How Do You Define a Facelift?
In the world of facelift surgery today, there are so many catchy terms and techniques such as lifestyle lift, short scar lift, weekend lift, and mini-lift that it can make things quite confusing for the average patient. There are some “lifts” that are simply addition of volume to the face with fillers like liquid lifts and vampire lifts that aren’t even a facelift as most would define it. So lets try to clear some things up. To put it simply, fillers only fill and lifts only lift. Although fillers and fat injections have a very important place in facial rejuvenation, any technique that only adds volume to the face is NOT a facelift.
Modern day facelifts involve making some form of incision around the ears, separating the skin from the deeper tissues, lifting and repositioning the deeper tissues in the cheeks and jawline, and finally trimming redundant skin. This is the basic definition of a facelift. It primarily lifts tissue in the lower face producing an improvement in the sagging tissues of the cheeks, around the mouth, and jawline (jowl). These incisions around the ears can commonly be combined with a short incision below the chin to also perform a necklift. A necklift tightens tissue below the jawline in the neck. A facelift and necklift are commonly done at the same time because they share similar access incisions and address aging features that usually develop together. Rarely is there aging in only the face and not the neck, or vice versa. So in summary, a facelift primarily addresses sagging tissue in the lower face and a necklift improves and sharpens the transition from the jawline to the neck. There is no noninvasive procedure to date like botox, fillers, lasers, peels, ultrasound, radio frequency, etc. that can markedly improve sagging tissue. If there is significant sagging in the cheeks, jawline, and neck, the correct treatment is a facelift and/or necklift and nothing else.
So then what do terms like short scar lift, mini-lift, midface lift, or Lifestyle lift signify? Some of these terms like Lifestyle Lift represent a brand name. Lifestyle Lift is a corporation that heavily advertises a very quick “facelift” procedure under local anesthesia with minimal downtime, and fantastic results. Be Skeptical! There seems to be a lot of deceptive advertising and disappointed patients linked to this company. Other terms like the short scar facelift or mini-lift are just phrases a physician may coin to represent a slight modification to the traditional facelift procedure.
Ultimately if you are thinking seriously about any of these procedures seek the advice of a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Any of the facelift procedures can be broken down into two components: where are the scars around the ears exactly located and what areas of tissue sagging will be addressed. Your surgeon should be able to explain this and if they are using a term other than facelift, ask them to describe how this term differentiates the procedure from a traditional facelift.
Dr. Dino Elyassnia is a board certified plastic surgeon serving the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a specialist in facial rejuvenation and offers facelift and necklift procedures along with fat injections and other less invasive treatments like Botox and fillers.