The Truth About the Nonsurgical Facelift
Earlier this month, a panel of doctors at the annual meeting of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery discussed whether the “nonsurgical facelift” is a marketing gimmick. The moderator maintained “there’s no such thing” as a facelift without surgery, but on that same panel, another plastic surgeon asserted that the nonsurgical facelift is a valid procedure.
Poor consumers! If cosmetic surgeons can’t agree, how can the average person figure out the best approach to facial rejuvenation?
The way to make sense of the situation is to educate yourself. Here’s some information to start you off.
The Nonsurgical Facelift is Legitimate
Also called the “liquid facelift,” the nonsurgical facelift addresses early signs of aging largely through injectables. Dermal fillers replace lost volume beneath the skin, while Botox or Dysport banish dynamic wrinkles such as those on the forehead. In many cases, lasers and microdermabrasion or a chemical peel are added to smooth and soften surface skin.
Although these procedures can’t accomplish surgical results, for the right patient, the treatments can add up to a refreshed, more youthful appearance. At the moment, reviewers on RealSelf give the liquid facelift a nearly universal thumbs up!
The Flip Side
You can probably feel it: there are some “buts” coming. Here are some things you should keep in mind about the nonsurgical facelift.
Doctors are not above marketing, especially when it comes to elective surgery and particularly when it comes to the face. Procedure names are sometimes created to get attention more than to convey reality. The “Vampire Facelift” is not a surgical procedure performed by Dracula, for instance, and the “Lunchtime Facelift” has been used to market so many different approaches that the term is now virtually meaningless.
The main issue is when creative marketing leads to false expectations on the part of someone considering rejuvenation. If you’re interested in turning back the clock without surgery, evaluate your options carefully without expecting results that equal what surgery can do.
It helps to understand the role of dermal fillers and injectables like Botox and Dysport—you can start by reading more about them on our website. The bottom line is that these treatments can address wrinkles in specific ways, but they do not actually lift the skin as a surgical facelift does. Similarly, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and lasers can work wonders on the surface but again, no lifting.
Another aspect of the nonsurgical facelift that may not be readily apparent is that many doctors (such as dermatologists) can offer it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Just keep in mind that if your dermatologist recommends it for you, it could be because it is the only option on the menu in their practice. Board certified plastic surgeons or facial plastic surgeons should have a variety of rejuvenation choices to offer, both surgical and nonsurgical.
Finally, there is the matter of cost. A nonsurgical facelift naturally costs less than surgery—how much less depends on the combination of treatments. On RealSelf, some patients say the liquid facelift costs about half the price tag of surgery. The big “but” here is that the results of injectables and surface procedures do not last forever. You can expect to return to your doctor for additional work in several months to about two years.
A Word About Surgical Facelifts
Although the traditional facelift delivers more dramatic results than nonsurgical procedures, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. In fact, for patients who are relatively young, a surgical facelift might be overkill. There’s the additional investment in cost and recovery to consider, and the fact that surface skin may need treatment to complement the lifting effect of surgery.
The Ideal Path
There’s an aspect of facial aging doctors can agree on: it makes sense to take a long-term view. Ideally, a patient will do some research, then find a professional they can partner with as the years pass. Less invasive treatment may be a good first step, with surgical alternatives such as a facelift, eyelid surgery or a neck lift available later on as needed.
With patients concerned about looking more youthful, our approach is open, honest and focused on delivering the anticipated results. We don’t adopt new techniques until we are certain they’re in our patients’ best interests. If you should come in thinking about a procedure we feel is ill advised, we’ll tell you.
We would be pleased to be your partner in caring for your appearance. Call us at 212-570-6080.