This is a question that I’m frequently asked by patients during their consultation. And it is a completely fair question, as patients want to be reassured that the expense and recovery involved in undergoing an invasive cosmetic surgery is justified. So, how long do the results of a facelift last? The simple answer is–we don’t really know. Surgeons frequently cite 10-15 years, which is probably pretty accurate, but there are several factors at play which can influence the durability of a patient’s results. In broad terms, the most important determinants are: the surgeon’s facelift technique, the patient’s adherence to the post-surgical skin care regimen, and some factors which are beyond our control such as genetics, skin quality, and environmental exposures. Optimizing the things that are within our control will increase the longevity of your results, and will be a focus of your surgical journey at 2301.
I listed this first, as I feel it is the most important. Techniques that cut corners with the promise of minimizing recovery, like the “lifestyle lift”, will almost certainly not hold up over the years! These often involve the simple removal of extra skin which, although a critical component of a comprehensive facelift, doesn’t address all the components of facial aging.
We know that facial aging is multifactorial – which means there are several factors at play. Yes, there is extra skin, but it is the changes that occur beneath the skin that are more significant. During facial aging, the deep tissues (or deep planes) of the face undergo two critical changes. The first is that they become loose, and under the force of years of gravity start to sag. This leads to the development of jowls and the so-called “turkey neck”. The second, and equally important, is that the deep tissues lose volume. This is typically most pronounced in the mid-face, over the cheek bones. The loss of volume in the mid-face combined with the sagging of tissues give the characteristic square face that we see in aging, as opposed to the oval or “egg-shaped” face that is associated with youth.
Thus, a comprehensive treatment of facial aging will involve returning these deeper tissues to where they should be on the face, with the possible addition of fat grafting to address the loss of volume.
Diligent Skin Aftercare
After your facelift, the goal is to maintain your results as long as possible. Remember, we are not stopping facial aging, just turning back the clock. Your skin will continue to age after a facelift, but our goal is to keep it as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Gentle skin cleansers and topical retinols can keep the skin hydrated and minimize oxidative stress. The importance of minimizing sun exposure and diligent use of sunscreen cannot be overstated as UV exposure rapidly accelerates the aging process.
Under our care, you will be prescribed an appropriate skin care regimen for you to preserve your surgical results. At 2301 Plastic Surgery we have the added benefit of housing our own MedSpa, so you won’t have to go far for continued skin care needs.
Things We Can’t Really Control
Unfortunately, despite adhering to all the above principles, there are factors beyond our control that will determine the longevity of a facelift. A lot of this comes down to genetics, which we can’t change. Somebody with good elasticity of their skin will likely have a longer lasting result than someone with thin, crepey skin. Environmental exposures, like years of excessive sun exposure, or history of smoking / vaping, will also play a role. As stated previously, UV radiation dramatically accelerates the aging process and can damage skin quality. Severely sun damaged skin is less resilient, and consequently, may not hold up as long to a facelift as someone who minimized sun exposure. That being said, fear not, as patients with any of these skin types can still have an amazing result. Remember, facial aging is multifactorial. Controlling as many of these factors as possible will ensure your results last as long as possible.
During your consultation we will have an in depth discussion about facial aging, and will develop a personalized surgical plan to address your goals and provide a long lasting result.