What exactly is a facelift, and what does it do? Before we get into that, let’s first describe some basic anatomy.
Plastic surgeons divide the face into thirds. The upper third of the face includes the eyes, eyebrows, forehead, and hairline. This area is typically treated with upper eyelid lifts (upper blepharoplasty) and browlifts. (I’ll tell you more about those in chapter 8).
The middle third of the face includes the cheeks and lower eyelids. These areas are treated surgically by lower eyelid lifts (lower blepharoplasty) and cheek lifts (also called mid-face lifts).
The lower third of the face extends from the cheek hollows downward, including the upper neck and jowls. A facelift typically treats only the lower third of the face. For this reason, a more accurate term for a facelift is a ‘lower face and upper neck lift.’ In my office we shorten it to lower facelift, but other offices simply use the term facelift.
I tell you all this to explain that a facelift does not treat the upper face. That would be a browlift. It doesn’t lift the cheeks. That would be a mid-face lift. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at exactly what a lower facelift (or just plain facelift) really does.
Plastic surgeons perform a wide variety of facelifts and give them all sorts of different names, like the Extended SMAS Facelift, the MACS Lift, the Deep Plane Lift, and many others. No matter what a facelift is called, they all pretty much work the same way by doing three things:
- Removing excess skin. As your skin loosens and sags with age, a facelift removes some of the excess using incisions (and creating scars) around the ears.
- Removing or repositioning excess fat. As we age, we all develop jowls and excess fat below the jaw line. All facelifts either remove this fat or move it up to a higher spot on your face.
- Tightening or removing loose muscle. A thin, sheet-like muscle underlies the skin. In the neck it is called the platysma, and in the face it is called the SMAS.
For those who have a sagging jaw line and/or neck and want a dramatic, permanent solution, there simply is no substitute for a facelift.
However, a facelift is quite an invasive surgery. It can take anywhere from two to six hours, depending on the surgeon and the technique used. Facelifts create permanent scars around the ears, and recovery time can also be significant, ranging from several days for a mini facelift to several weeks for a more aggressive, deep plane facelift.
In general, the more aggressive the facelift, the more dramatic the results, but also the higher the risk of potential complications, such as permanent numbness and facial muscle paralysis, and the longer the recovery time. Obviously, they are not for everyone, but they do get the job done.
To learn more about Dr. Youn performing your facelift, click HERE.