Do I Really Need a Facelift?

By W. Jason Martin, M.D.  -  On 24 Mar, 2011 -  0 comments

The most common question that is posed to me on a daily basis is “Dr. Martin, do I need a facelift?”. This may be in the office, the grocery store, at a dinner party or even on a chairlift. I often sense that patients feel that even bringing up this topic is admitting some failure on their part, as if wrinkles and sagging skin have somehow become punishment for living a fruitful and active life.

It is at this point in the discussion that I interject with some compassion and whole lot of honesty:

Time, gravity and genetics are constants. We can’t change them and it is not your fault!

Clearly, life choices like smoking, poor diet or not wearing sunscreen can have a real effect on one’s aesthetic condition, but they are only contributors.

The reality lies in the fact that changes in the skin and soft tissue that are associated with age are inevitable. This is obviously contrary to every 2am advertisement that pontificates on the newest, most amazing facial product.

Lasers, fillers, Botox and coordinated skin care protocols really help. But contrary to what most non-plastic surgeon aesthetic doctors (e.g. dermatologists) will tell you, they are only half the solution.

The reality is that jowling, lax facial skin, and a loose neck will not magically disappear with any of the above-mentioned non-invasive treatments. Doing 1000 treatments of Thermage, Fraxyl, or any other skin tightening treatment of the month will NOT reverse the perceived problems with facial aging. Doing all of those treatments may cost as much as a facelift and slightly improve the problem areas, but will not solve the problem.

So if what I have written in this post is truth, then why do patients choose every treatment under the sun before doing a facelift? The answer lies with common perception and the effect of history.

First and foremost, the examples of extreme facelifts that you see in the media are not representative of the procedures that are completed in high-end offices such as mine in Aspen and Denver. Barring close friends and family members, if you notice that an individual has had a facelift, it was not done correctly. A facelift is subtle, natural, and flows with the normal anatomy of a patient’s face.

Second, the history of this procedure has created a real stereotype that now distorts the public view of what a facelift really looks like. My forefathers in plastic surgery unfortunately veered away from the natural aesthetic during the 1980s and 1990s. Patients from that era tended to look windblown, pulled and unnatural. This set the stage for a real concern among patients that having a facelift could ultimately leave you looking unnatural.

Fortunately, the modern facelift has little relationship with the procedures of previous decades. The outcomes are natural and tailored to each patient’s specific facial features. There is an emphasis on restoration and balance. Volume losses are addressed and combination treatments with lasers are now the norm. Overall, the results give a subtle rejuvenating effect to the face that is unparalleled by any other treatment or procedure.

Most of these procedures I complete with advanced, minimally-invasive techniques. The incisions are short and hidden. The down time is less than ten days and that includes swelling and bruising. Most patients are back to normal activities at 7 days. The whole recovery phase is relatively pain free-and very manageable.

In the end, this is why I love my profession. With one amazing procedure, the patient who once said to me, “do I really need a facelift?”, is soon sitting in my office and saying with a smile, “I should have done this sooner”.

It is really that simple.