Why Are So Many Plastic Surgeons Opposed to Facelifts at a Young Age?

With all the questions I've seen by Realselfers with regards to age and facelifts, many of the plastic surgeons seem to evade the question of why PRACTICALLY facelifts on a young person are a bad idea. Many simply seem to sidestep it by responding with what young people should do instead. Technically, not ethically, why is a facelift on a young person a bad idea? Scarring? Aesthetically looking too "done"? Why? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 26

Facelift and age

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Facelifts need to be done when the patient will benefit from it. The age is often irrelevant. In general we are trending towards doing facelifts in younger individuals as we are understanding the sequence of aging. I personally feel that a younger individual who needs a facelift will have a better, longer lasting and more natural result than a much older person who has global aging in his or her face. The older individuals are often more difficult to correct and can look unnatural as they can only be helped so much. So, facelift in a younger individual who has sustained early aging changes IS a good procedure and can have a nice outcome.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

How young to do a facelift

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Facelifts on a young person are not necessarily bad idea. The question is if the person has physical changes that a face lift will correct. Usually these changes show up in the late thirties. 

I have seen early changes in women in their late twenties and done facelifts on them with lovely, lasting results. What scares a plastic surgeon is a young person dissatisfied with minor imperfections that a face lift can't improve. What says that a face lift is right for you?

  • jowls
  • loose skin of the face and neck
  • tissues sliding off the bone into the upper cheek.
  • deepening cheek folds. What to do? Consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon!


Facelifts for young people

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The most important consideration when evaluating a patient for surgery is to address this question: Will the patient be better off after surgery than they were before surgery? The reason that plastic surgeons are opposed to doing facelifts on young people is that there is rarely any indication that doing the surgery will provide the patient with any benefit. The only ethical dilemma in doing a facelift on a 30 year old is that it is unlikely that I, as a surgeon, will be able to provide the patient with much, if any benefit.

In the very unusual circumstances that a young person has premature signs of aging such as jowling and neck laxity, then it would be appropriate to offer the patient a face and neck lift. This is rarely the case. 

Todd C. Miller, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon

Facelifts are not for everyone

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Facelifts are not for everyone. Most patients and even surgeons see facelifts as cookie cutter for any facial rejuvenation, which is wrong.

Face is divided into 5 areas for proper and natural rejuvenation. Upper face (brows, forehead), midface (lower eyelids, cheek), lowerface (jowling and neck), mouth region (inside the nasolabial folds, lips), and the skin of the face.

There is no one procedure which will address all the above regions of the face. Facelift will effectively address the jowling, the neck region, and part of the cheek, however will not do anything to upperface, mouth region etc. I can perfom the best facelift, however if the eyebrows are droopy to start with, then despite the great facelift, you will/may still look tired due to the low eyebrows.

Again the best facelift alone will not do anything to your eyelids/bags, or lips.

So important thing to decide is what bothers you the most. At younger ages, the problem usually tends to be droopy eyebrows, loose eyelid skin, and thinning lips. That's why facelift usually not the first choice, since it will not correct the above problems.

Facelift is a great procedure if it is done right, and done on the right candidate. 

Adil Ceydeli, MD
Panama City Plastic Surgeon

Why are Plastic Surgeons Opposed to Facelifts on Young People

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Operations should be done on people who need them. Our goal is to improve our patients with the technique that is safest, easiest and meets the patient's expectations. If a patient needs a facelift to achieve reasonable goals that is what should be done. It's not about age but most young people do not need facelifts.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Facelifts at a Young Age

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   If a patient has stigmata of facial aging amenable to facelifting techniques, age is a moot point.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Facelift at a Young Age

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A Facelift is a wonderful procedure for the right patient, with the right indications (aging changes), and in a stable psychological state to undergo facial rejuvenation surgery.  Most experienced Facial Plastic Surgeons or Plastic Surgeons (the only two specialties I would recommend that you see for consideration of a Facelift) will recommend a procedure that best matches the individual's anatomy and expectations to reasonable results that can be achieved with a procedure.  If a patient does not yet have the indications for a Facelift, the prospective results from this surgical procedure will be far less impressive than those of a patient with more suitable indications.  The risk to reward ratio is much higher, not because the inherent risks are higher in a younger patient, but because the reward is likely to be far less.  Therefore, when a younger patient (early to mid 40's) presents with very mild aging changes, I am generally more likely to recommend less invasive procedures such fillers such as Botox, fillers, Ultherapy in addition to great skin care and Aesthetician services.  Such procedures and services are usually more suitable for younger patients due to an acceptable risk to reward ratio ( far less risk, downtime, while still providing quality results).

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

How young is too young for a facelift?

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I will quote the writer Gertrude Stein in answering this question - "A difference to be a difference must make a difference." 

There has to be something to lift to make a face lift worthwhile.  If there is no jowling or sagging, there will be very little improvment with a face lift.  Younger patients may very well have issues such as eyelid sagging or bagging but these are not addressed with a face lift.  Also, issues such as nasolabial folds or subtle loss of fullness are best addressed with  procedures such as HA fillers or fat transfer that add volume.  Also, skin quality issues are best addressed with resurfacing or aggressive skin care. 

It's not the date on a birth certificate that determines the appropriateness of a face lift.  It is the patient's anatomy, general health, mental health and expectations that determine whether or not a face lift is the way to go. 

Believe me, no one should want to go through with the expense and recovery of a facelift when agressive skin care and filler would have been a more logical option!

Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Facelifts at a young age.

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Thank you for your question.  There are several reasons that facelifts are not commonly performed for the young patient.

The main reason is because usually it is not necessary and there are other less invasive options that will get equally as good or better results.

Another reason is that facial scarring is worse in people in their 20's and 30's than it is in older patients.

Also, the skin quality has usually not deteriorated enough to make a significant different.

A facelift is serious surgery. If I am going to do it, I want to make sure that my patient is going to get a significant visible benefit.

I hope this helps.


J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Why Plastic Surgeons Opposed to Facelifts at Young Age?

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The most likely answer is that most young people seeking facelifts have problems that will not be fixed by a face lift.  They have non age-related issues with the face that is more likely to benefit from facial reshaping than from lifting

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 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.