If the person looking back at you in the mirror looks like a stranger, you may be considering a facelift -- but what kind of facelift? Cosmetic surgery to create a more youthful or healthier appearance is not one procedure, but a family of procedures, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and ideal applications. Here are some tips for making the right choice based on your specific challenges, needs, and expectations.
"I Want a Dramatic Difference That Will Last"
Do you need to smooth and tighten the majority of your face, creating a significant change in your appearance that will last for many years? The best overall choice to obtain this outcome is also one of the more expensive ones and requires a relatively lengthy recovery time -- but you may decide that the results are absolutely worth it. In this traditional form of facelift, the surgeon cuts and repositions not only the dermis and fatty subcutaneous tissue, but also some of the superficial muscle tissue underneath. This set of tissues is known as the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system), and once the surgeon has freed it from the deeper facial structures, it can be shifted easily.
The deepest form of traditional facelift is called a deep plane lift. Excess tissue is removed along incisions from the temple to behind the ear, and the remaining tissues are stretched into position and connected via sutures. This extensive procedure can last for up to 15 years, which is good news if going under the knife more frequently is a strain on your nerves (and your bank account).
"I Don't Want Any Scars"
If keeping surgical scarring to an absolute minimum sits near the top of your priority list, then you may be an ideal candidate for an S-lift. This minimally invasive procedure is so named because the incision curls in a characteristic S shape. The scars left by this procedure are much shorter than those associated with traditional facelifts. If you want a slightly deeper but still minimally invasive alternative, ask your surgeon about a MACS (minimal access cranial suspension) lift, which confines its incisions to the temporal areas at the sides of the face.
The results of S-lifts and MACS lifts are more understated than the dramatic effect you can achieve with a traditional facelift, but you may actually prefer the more subtle approach -- in which case, these procedures could make good sense for you. On the downside, they won't last quite as long as a more extensive surgery, and they can't correct severe sagging.
"I Only Need One Part Tightened"
If you're unhappy with only one aspect of your facial appearance, you may be putting off that big total facelift until the other parts catch up. But there's need to feel progressively disenchanted with your looks -- if one part in particular bothers you, then fix that part! Fortunately, modern cosmetic surgery offers a few different options for doing just that, including:
- Neck lift - Even if you're planning a more general facelift, you might still need a separate procedure called a lower rhytidectomy to tighten sagging skin on your neck. Neck lifts can also address unsightly vertical bands of neck muscle that often protrude with age.
- Eyebrow lift - An eyebrow lift can help smooth your forehead while also correcting droopy eyebrows that make you look angry, worried or tired. This technique can be done either through traditional surgery or by working through tiny incisions with a thin device called an endoscope.
- Midface lift - Also known as a cheek lift, this procedure can help reduce the depth of the nasal labial folds (where your cheeks meet your nose). In some cases the surgeon may transfer fat to this area, either as an alternative to the procedure or as a complement to it.
Whatever your particular facial rejuvenation goals may be, it pays to consider all your options. Show a trusted cosmetic surgeon in your area what you don't like about your face, and ask about costs, healing times, and the duration of the final result. You'll be glad you did -- especially when you look in the mirror! Click here to read more about facelift options in your area.