Facelift surgery has a longstanding reputation as one of the most well-known procedures for facial rejuvenation. Despite all the advances in minimally invasive techniques, which usually have short-lived, effective results, the surgical facelift continues to provide the most consistent, effective and long-lasting results.
The procedure has been developed in a variety of ways. Although a facelift acts to reverse the appearance of aging on the face, it cannot halt the natural aging of the body and the face. In general, it has been thought that the effects of a facelift usually last approximately 10 years. However, a number of factors come into play which include what technique is used for the facelift and how effectively the tissues are lifted to a more youthful position. Another important consideration is not just the deterioration of the facelift surgery over time but that that if a facelift had not been performed then it is likely that the aging 10 years later would be worse. This means that the facelift surgery often slows down the ageing effect in the face.
What type of facelift technique enhances the longevity ?
There is no doubt that minimally invasive techniques produce results that do not last as long. For example a mini-facelift procedure will not anatomically restore all the various deeper facial tissues back to their more youthful position. Minimal techniques are therefore very much a short cut which produce minimal longevity. Their attraction is the fact that the recovery tends to be shorter with a quicker return to work and full activity. Some patients may indeed have only the very minimal effects of ageing in the face and therefore a more extensive procedure may not be requested by the patient.
Similarly techniques that aim to more effectively restore the lifted appearance of the deeper tissues such as the SMAS layer provide better results and better longevity. This is because such techniques aim to anatomically restore the tissues to their more youthful position rather than simply tighten the skin which can easily relax again and fail to hold the weight of the deeper tissues which have sagged.
Have there been any studies examining longevity after facelift surgery ?
There has never been an accurate study examining the longevity of facelift surgery. No previous study has used standardized analysis techniques and therefore the results of any previous studies can be considered inadequate in the assessment of the longevity of a facelift procedure.
One study conducted in London and Glasgow has provided a more accurate overview of the long term results. Between 2001 and 2011, photographs were standardized in each institution to ensure the accuracy of the study. Fifty patients were assessed between these years, 5.5 years after their surgery using objective measurements. The jowl, elevated 6mm in vertical height after facelift surgery, was seen to have been maintained an average amount of 21% after this time. Also, jowl correction in its own right was maintained at 5.5 years follow up, with less than 0.0001% alteration.
What's more at 5.5 years, the standardised scoring method in this study suggests that 76% of patients still look younger 5.5 years after a facelift than they did prior to the procedure. There is no definitive answer to how the results of a facelift will last - everyone is different, and there are many factors that can impact the results of a facelift. However, in line with the results of this study, facelift patients can expect long-lasting, effective results, and the majority of patients will look younger than they did for many years after surgery.
Achieving the best results with facelift surgery ?
Often the best results with facelift surgery are not only due to one single technique but due to careful analysis of the face and individualising the procedure to each ageing characteristic displayed by each patient. This may mean that not only a different type of facelift procedure but also adjunctive procedures may be required to optimise the result . These may include browlift surgery, eyelid surgery , fat transfer or chin liposuction and necklifts.
What type of facelift techniques are used in my practice to enhance longevity ?
A SMAS facelift technique or one of its variants is used since this allows a more effective facelift result. The SMAS layer is a deeper layer under the skin which supports the facial fat compartments and the muscles . Lifting and tightening this SMAS layer provides the best results. The exact technique can vary from individual to individual but may include
- A standard SMAS lift
- A SMASectomy ( a strip of SMAS excised and then sewn together to provide lifting)
- A high SMAS lift
- A deep plane facelift
It is important to remember that facelift surgery is not a one technique fits all procedure. Fpr example a younger patient in their 40s with only minimal changes in their cheek may not need a deep plane facelift. A patient returning for a second facelift after a previous SMAS facelift may be better suited to a SMASectomy in order to reduce the risks to the facial nerve from scarring after the previous surgery.
How to maintain the results after facelift surgery ?
Avoiding smoking and staying out of the sun are two of the most important factors to slow down the facial ageing process. Both of these cause thinning of the skin and result in laxity occurring with the development of facial wrinkles. Maintaining a steady weight is also important since too rapid and excessive weight loss may cause loss of facial fat and this accentuates the hollowness of an aging face along with further laxity of the tissues. In fact fat transfer is often used alongside facelift surgery to enhance the results in the same way that dermal fillers are used except fat transfer is more likely to be permanent.
A good skin care regime along with non-surgical treatments such as botox aid in the prevention and development of facial wrinkles. Also, a medical grade chemical peel administered once a year can maintain the quality of the skin . Even better is fractional carbon dioxide laser treatment.
What do my patients say about their long term results ?
It is always very satisfying to see my patients many years later for a secondary facelift. Here a couple of testimonials from patients I have operated on over 10 years ago:
Ten years later.
19 Oct 2020
I am a male of 68 years old. I had a face-lift exactly 10 years ago which was rather brave of me. To be honest , it was the best decision l ever made. The face-lift was so successful that l continously get positive comments about my fresh youthful looks . Everyday when l looked into the mirror , l am still satisfied with my appearance. Up today nobody knew l had the face-lift except my family.
What can l say, except that if you want an excellent job done, do see Mr.Chana. He is the best money can buy.
Read the review and others on Real Self https://www.realself.com/review/facelift-ten-years
The best thing I ever did !
21 Dec 2020
The wonderful Mr Chana did my facelift 12 years ago. It was one of the best things I've ever done and I was over the moon with the results. Even now after all this time the results are there to see and I am thankful to him every day. I go to see him every 6 months or so for what he calls. 'maintenance' ie botox and sometimes fillers to keep me looking perky. Cannot recommend him highly enough for his care over all this time. He has a very calming manner and really listens to any concerns you might have.
Read the review and others on Real self https://www.realself.com/review/facelift-dr-chana-best-thing-ever-did
What do the scars look like 15 years later ?
It is interesting to see how a well positioned and deigned scar can heal long term. Here is a video below of a patient on whom I am just about to perform her second facelift 15 years after I performed her first one.