Many people wonder if they can gain the profound benefits of a facelift without having surgery. It is understandable to want to reverse visible signs of aging and look more youthful, but not be completely comfortable or ready to take the surgical route. This is why non-surgical procedures are so appealing. A quick online search might have you believing that these treatments can deliver incredible results on par with a facelift. There are endless options promising to tighten skin and remove years off our faces, often with a short office visit that requires minimal downtime. However, do these alternatives truly measure up? Here we take a closer look at some of the most popular non-surgical procedures and how they compare to a traditional facelift.
Facelift Surgery: The Gold Standard
Before we explore the benefits of non-surgical treatments, let’s briefly review what traditional facelift surgery can accomplish. It’s no wonder it is considered the ”gold standard” of facial rejuvenation. The facelift procedure is unrivaled for its ability to remove unwanted sagging skin, eliminate jowls, smooth out deep lines and restore youthful contours. By way of placing discreet incisions, the surgeon can lift and tighten the underlying muscle structures and achieve significant, long-lasting results to diminish the look of facial aging. Although there are incredible benefits, a facelift, like other surgery also means there will be a necessary post-operative recovery period, possible risks and side effects and considerable cost. These downsides are what usually influences patients to consider non-surgical alternatives as the first resort.
Facelift Alternatives: Non-Surgical Options
Whether you’re looking to address specific facial aging concerns or interested to slow down or prevent aging in the first place, non-surgical rejuvenation procedures offer a diverse range of options to help you achieve a more youthful and revitalized look. From reducing fine lines and wrinkles to restoring lost volume and improving skin texture, non-surgical procedures can provide effective, natural-looking results without the need for surgery. However, while there are many benefits, there are also limitations to what these treatments can accomplish, especially when compared to a facelift. The degree of facial aging, skin texture and elasticity and aesthetic goals of the patient are also an important factor in the efficacy of non-surgical options.
A “liquid facelift” is a term used to describe a non-surgical procedure that involves the use of dermal filler injectables, typically hyaluronic acid-based, to achieve facial rejuvenation. Dermal fillers can help restore lost volume, fill in wrinkles, smooth out fine lines, and lift the cheeks. Liquid facelifts offer immediate results with minimal downtime, making them a popular choice for those seeking a quick fix. However, the effects usually last from 12-18 months to a year, depending on the targeted areas and products used. Regular maintenance treatments are necessary to sustain the desired outcome, unlike with a traditional facelift, which can last 10-15 years or more. A liquid facelift compared to a surgical facelift also cannot help eliminate or improve the look of advanced sagging or loose skin.
Non-Surgical Skin Tightening
Some of the most advertised non-surgical tightening procedures currently on the market are ultrasound or radio frequency treatments that utilize energy-based devices to stimulate collagen production, improve texture and tighten the skin. While these treatments claim to effectively target mild to moderate signs of aging without the need for surgery, the results are often fairly subtle especially when compared to a facelift. Multiple sessions are often required to achieve an optimal outcome and will need to be continually maintained, which can become costly. Additionally, ultrasound and radio frequency treatments are not without the downside. The high-energy treatments can sometimes melt too much fat under the skin resulting in loose skin and more wrinkles.
Another non-surgical skin-tightening treatment usually used to reduce fullness under the chin is a special, FDA-approved injectable called KYBELLA®. This product’s active ingredient occurs naturally in the digestive tract and breaks apart dietary fat, which is easier for the body to metabolize. When administered to areas of unwanted fat just beneath the skin, KYBELLA® works in the same way to break fat into small particles that can be metabolized and eliminated by the body. This treatment is best for people with good skin elasticity and minimal signs of aging as it cannot help advanced fullness under the chin.
A thread lift is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure designed to lift and tighten sagging or loose skin on the face and neck. During the procedure, the surgeon uses a thin needle to pass a self-dissolving thread underneath the skin, lifting areas of the face such as the jowls, chin, neck or cheeks. The appeal of this type of “lift” is that it is done in a relatively quick office visit and requires minimal downtime. When compared to a traditional facelift, the thread lift doesn’t have the same longevity. The results of a thread lift usually last two to six months, but can cost on average $4,000-$8,000 per procedure. To maintain results, a patient will need to get it done repeatedly, which in the long run, can end up being more costly than a traditional facelift.
Chemical peels are treatments that involve applying a chemical solution to the skin that exfoliates the outer layers and encourages cell turnover. This process can improve skin tone, uneven pigmentation, texture, and reduce fine lines. Chemical peels are a generally safe, effective option for producing a refreshed facial appearance, but multiple sessions may be necessary for more noticeable results. These treatments are useful for improving the superficial layers of the skin, but will not be able to reverse aging changes such as deep lines or skin laxity.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that uses laser technology to improve the appearance and texture of the skin. It involves the removal of the outermost layers of skin, stimulating the growth of new, healthy cells. The laser energy is delivered in short pulses, targeting specific areas of concern such as wrinkles, scars, sun damage, and age spots. The heat from the laser also stimulates collagen production, which helps to tighten the skin and improve overall elasticity. However, multiple treatments may be required and it is not suitable for all skin types. This procedure, similarly to a chemical peel, can temporarily help improve surface-layer concerns, but doesn’t address significant laxity or facial sagging, that would usually require surgery to see results.
A Better Approach: Combining Surgical and Non-Surgical Options
Ultimately, non-surgical methods in most cases cannot create significant, long-lasting results equivalent to those of a surgical facelift. However, carefully applied and customized non-surgical techniques are appropriate for many people who want to reduce mild or moderate signs of aging. They are also a great starting point for those who want to ease into facial rejuvenation procedures gradually, with the objective of feeling more comfortable with having surgery later on.
It is worth considering another excellent approach for a comprehensive facial rejuvenation – to combine both surgical and non-surgical techniques. Why not have the best of both worlds? For example, a patient can reap the most benefits from a traditional facelift procedure that is complimented by adding volume to the cheeks and other areas of the face with fat grafting or injectable fillers. Additionally, laser treatments can improve the texture and quality of the skin for a complete look. On its own, a facelift can create impressive results indeed, but when combined with non-surgical treatments, an even better result is possible for each person’s dynamic aesthetic goals.
For more information about a facelift or other facial rejuvenation procedures, please call or contact us to schedule your appointment. At the office of Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, New York’s top facial plastic surgeon and facelift expert, we are always here for your beauty needs!