Difference Between Facelift Procedures?

What is the difference between facelift procedures? There are deep plane, laser, and regular. I do not know of any others. How do you know which is right for you? I am fair, thin-skinned, and 60 years old. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 7

Band Aid

There are numerous facial rejuvenation procedures designed to address loose skin, lax muscle, and wrinkling that occurs with age.  Before you select a rejuvenation procedure, however, it is most important to first seek an in-person consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who can access your individual concerns and then recommend the most fitting option.  Most of my Atlanta facial rejuvenation patients typically elect a traditional facelift or Band Aid (mini facelift) depending on their individual concerns.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Differences Between Facelift Procedures

There are many differences between facelift procedures but the key here is what is actually being lifted.  In my experience, lifting the deeper tissues of the face (see attached anatomic explanation of why) provides a more robust change to the face than a SMAS lift.  Basically there area  few categories of lifts to look at:

  • Skin only lifts-  A simple skin only facelift can take a minimal amount of skill to do with possibly no change and poor scar formation.  
  • SMAS lift-  This requires a moderate amount of skill and anatomic knowledge.  SMAS lifts are the type of lift performed by the vast majority of surgeons (based on polling data).  While not all SMAS lifts are the same, I do not find the results of this lift satisfy myself or my patients since their are less robust changes and can lead to stigmata of facelifts long term such as a lateral sweep deformity.
  • Deep Plane Lifts-  A deep plane lift requires the most amount of skill and anatomic knowledge.  In my hands and my modified version of it, it leads to the most robust changes while still keeping the face appearing natural.

It is important to note that the biggest factor in a facelift is a surgeon.  His/her individual nuances of each technique will make the results differ dramatically for any type of lift.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 163 reviews

Facelift procedure encompasses a range of techniques to improve the aging face

Facelift was historically designed to remove the loose skin and pull the lower face. This procedure produced the typical "wind-tunnel" unnatural look. Subsequent modifications made the matters worse. Thinking that more pull or more lift is needed, the surgeons added a deeper component to the surgery. These deeper techniques made matters worse! Not only the patients looked unnatural and "overly pulled" but they also lost their natural facial movements and animation (not to mention the prolonged recovery and higher risk of permanent nerve injury)

The focus must be on correcting the changes that have occurred as a result of aging. Aging begins with a loss of volume, followed by loss of skin elasticy followed by hanging skin! To address this, a "facial rejuvenation" procedure must first restore the lost volume by adding more volume. this can be accomplished by fat injection. Next, some level of skin excision and deep tissue stabilization can be considered.

Adding volume is primary, removing skin is secondary in the more contemporary approach to facial rejuvenation.

Reza Nabavian, MD
Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon

Facelift proceedures

    The KEY to all facelift proceedures is the experience and talent of the surgeon. An experienced and talented surgeon will get a great result no matter what the approach, and unfortunately the opposite is also true of the less talented. After 2500 facelifts and many happy patients I do everything with Oral Sedation and Local Anesthesia therby removing 95% of the surgical risk and getting the same great results. The proceedure itself is still tailored to the presentation and needs of each individual patient. Extensive flaps as needed, SMAS work as needed and anything else to insure a natural appearence and long lasting result. So if I do a hundred different patients they get a hundred different facelifts....but they all get a great result and the safest surgery possible.

Richard Galitz, MD, FACS
Miami Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Facelift Options

There are many different types of facelifts. There are also many different names of similar types of facelifts, which makes the whole topic even more confusing.

Here's what you need to know. In the years past, aging was felt to be mainly do the the changes in the skin, and a "facelift" involved cutting out and repositioning excess skin. While this produced some change, it did not produce the most natural result, and the results were not long lasting.

We began to pay more attention the the layers of tissue under the skin, in particular to the layer of muscular/connective tissue under the skin. This layer is known as the SMAS(superificial musculoaponeurotic system). The next generation of facelifts made changes to this layer as well as to the skin, either with cuts into it or with specific stitches.

The SMAS lift produced a better result than just a skin lift, but did not really change the middle part of the face as well. The next generation of facelift addresses this issue by going deep to the SMAS, earning the name "deep-plane " facelift.

To confuse the issue even more, there are differences in both the incisions used and sutures placed, for example short-scar, MACS lift, Lifestyle lift, mini-lift etc. These are usually versions of a SMAS lift.

Also, there are also procedures designed to address the eyelid/cheeck area and midface, which can be called mid-face lifts, composite lifts etc.

Only your surgeon can decide the procedure that is best for you, based on your goals, anatomy, and downtime available. Good luck!

Jennifer Levine, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Difference between the Deep Plane Facelift and other Facelifts

The difference between facelift techniques lies in where and how the SMAS (the deep muscle layer) is addressed. The deep plane facelift differs from traditional facelifts in that the mid face is also lifted as well as the jowl and neck. 

Jacob D. Steiger, MD
Boca Raton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Facelift procedure differences

Facelift refers to cosmetic surgery of the lower face (jowls) & neck. Although there are many different face lift procedure terms, there are really only a few different types. These basic face lift types are the SMAS, deep, or composite. Face lift may be combined with other cosmetic surgery such as a neck lift, fat transfer, or others.

The amount of tissue adjusted or tightened depends on the specific approach & the requirements of a particular patient. The minimal access or minimal incision lift that leaves a short scar is more appropriate for younger patients (less than 60) or patients with little/moderate skin aging. All of these types of face lifts are variations of SMAS lifts. Older patients or patients with severe & excess skin sagging will require a more traditional facelift procedure. By far, a majority of plastic surgeons who perform face lift surgery do a SMAS lift variation. This face lift type generally has the quickest recovery with great results.

There isn't one face lift type for all patients. Each cosmetic surgery is specific for each patient. Keep in mind, many companies or plastic surgeons may market face lifts by different names, which confuses patients. Speak to a plastic surgeon to determine which facelift is right for you.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.