Mini-Procedures: Quicklift or Lifestyle Lift?

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD

Article by
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

It is quite natural to seek a given result in surgery with less recovery, risk, and cost. Plastic surgeons have always sought creative ways to perform an operation (and get a good result) through smaller incisions, use of new technology, and novel approaches in general. As the profession has evolved, the successes were adopted and the failures discarded. The process continues.

Unfortunately, the understandable enthusiasm by the prospective patient for a “modern” operation can be exploited. Results can be implied and the seriousness of the procedure can be dumbed down by a clever choice of euphemistic adjectives. Terms like “featherlift” or “lunch-time facelift” imply that the biophysiological repercussions of surgery are trivial. Two new clever alternatives are “QuickLift” and “Lifestyle Lift”. They are not.

This is not to say that these miniaturized operations don’t work. They do. But they work only in properly selected patients. “Mini” operations solve “mini” problems. If the surgery is not tailored to the specific needs, it will fail.

An example: Last week I was visited by a patient who had undergone a boilerplate facial rejuvenation regimen by a franchise cosmetic surgeon. She had the combination of procedures that was performed on each and every patient-eyelid surgery, mini-facelift, and suction of the neck. The eyelids gave a good result, the mini-lift marginal improvement, and the neck lift a failure. Why did this happen?

The patient was in her fifties, and over the years, the cheeks had dropped substantially. The neck aging was a combination of looseness of the neck muscle, excess fat, and a substantial amount of excess skin. Treatment should have been tailored to these specific problems. The eyelid surgery was, the other components (mini-facelift and neck liposuction) were not.

The facelift tightened the skin a little. It needed it so there was improvement. But the descent of the facial fat pads and relaxation of the superficial muscles were ignored. Therefore, because only one of several problems were addressed, the results were modest at best.
The neck webbing was primarily the product of a loose platysma muscle and excess skin. There was little fat. Suction of the neck removed the small amount of fat but did nothing about the skin and muscle. The results were ineffectual.

Like all plastic surgeons, I have a selection of “mini” operations that I have performed over the years. However, they are recommended only occasionally. This is because patients who are good candidates for these lesser procedures are only seen occasionally. Most patients who seek facial rejuvenation have aged synchronously, and all areas must be addressed if a good result is to be obtained. The skin, the fat, and the muscles of the face play a role in facial aging and their individual contributions determine the proper procedure. There is simply no one combination of operations that fits all patients.

Shop wisely. There is no reason to waste thousands of dollars on a treatment plan that won’t work even if the risks and convalescence seem to be less. Better not to have surgery at all than to waste money on an operation that won’t solve your problems and does require convalescence and acceptance of surgical risk. Remember your due diligence.