Can a facelift improve crows feet?

I am aware there are many techniques, surgical and non that reduce the appearance of crow's feet. Having said that I would like to know if a facelift with its repositioning of muscle and skin can diminish crows feet. Many thanks

Doctor Answers 27

Crow's feet and facelift

Hi there and thanks for the question.  To answer this it is important to understand what crow's feet are. They are folding of the skin due to contraction of the underlying muscle.

Crow's feet occur because of contraction of the underlying muscle.  This muscle closes the eye, and elevates the cheeks ie such as when smiling or squinting in bright sunlight.  So when you are young the skin is thick and less resistant to the folding and creasing.  As you age the skin thins and the skin is less resistant to this folding. Botulinum toxin is used by many to reduce crow's feet, but I believe this makes people look strange as this muscle contraction is normal. The same is to be said for procedures that cut the muscle during facelift. Facelift will elevate facial tissues that have fallen, and blepharoplasty will also lift skin around the eyes.  These may help some of the crow's feet at rest, but they will still occur.

Treatments to improve the skin and stiffen the underlying tissues help best with crow's feet, as they do not disturb normal contraction. Fillers may help, and skin surface procedures also.

So facelift may help a tiny bit, but ultimately no.

I hope this helps.

Geelong Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

The Objectives of a Facelift

A #facelift is a surgical procedure designed to remove the major folds and wrinkles that form on our faces with age. Gravity, sun damage, smoking, living in a dry climate, and a variety of factors contribute to the aging process of our faces. Facelift techniques vary from patient to patient to give each person a procedure tailored to produce the best possible surgical result. A facelift will smooth out major folds and #wrinkles, #tighten the tissues beneath your skin, remove #sagging and excess skin. A facelift can also reduce excess skin around the #neck and #jawline.  

There is not just one facelift procedure, but a whole range of #facelift procedures. These different techniques have been developed over the years, involving different incisions and lifting the skin to varying degrees. A facelift may also involve the tightening of certain muscles and tissues, or liposuction of areas such as the jowls or chin.

It is important to understand that facelifts are meant to remove major folds and wrinkles, not fine wrinkles. A facelift which removes every line and fold would be too aggressive and would result in an unnatural result. Fine lines and #wrinkles are better addressed by skin treatments such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion, which we also offer at our office. 
Incisions vary depending upon whether the patient is male or female, the hairstyles, hairline, age, previous surgery, and other factors. Generally, the #incision starts in the temple, in front or within the hairline. It continues in front of the ear, sometimes partially hidden within the ear. It then goes under the earlobe, behind the ear fold, and ends within the hairline or at the hairline behind the ear. The newer, shorter scar #techniques, which do not include scars in or by the hairline, can be used for most patients. Frequently another small and hidden incision is made under the chin in a natural skin fold. This allows fat removal and tightening of the platysma muscle in the neck if required.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Crow's feet are caused by muscle activity and skin laxity, and facelifts don't lift the area directly responsible for them

Thank you for your question. You’d like to know if crow’s feet lines can be treated with a facelift, and are aware they can be treated non-surgically.

To first give you a little information about myself — I am a Board-certified cosmetic surgeon and a Fellowship-trained oculofacial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, practicing in Manhattan and Long Island for over 20 years. My expertise lies in facial rejuvenation and facial aging, as well as advanced treatment of the area around the eyes.

Crow’s feet lines are caused by a combination of factors that are dependent on two key elements: (1) the looseness or laxity of the skin around the eyes and; (2) the activity of the muscle around the eye that is responsible for the contraction of skin.

Assuming there is no skin laxity around the eye and there is no presence of eyebrow ptosis, what would most likely cause the appearance of crow’s feet lines is a muscle called the orbicularis oculi muscle. Simply put, when this muscle contracts, it causes lines to form around the eyes. Traditionally, this is resolved with the help of Botox, or comparable drugs such as Dysport and Xeomin. What this does is it prevents the muscle from contracting, thus preventing the crow’s feet lines from further deepening from the constant contractions. If you have static lines around the eyes, laser treatments such as fractional CO2 laser or erbium laser can both resurface and tighten the skin, thus lessening the appearance of the lines.

In cases wherein a patient has eyebrow ptosis, the eyebrow can be lifted in order to reduce skin laxity around the eyes that contributes to the depth of the crow’s feet lines. As a side note, before the introduction of injectables and lasers, there was a procedure that involved cutting this muscle out to help reduce crow’s feet lines, however, given all the new technology and methods that exist nowadays, I don’t think my colleagues would pursue that type of approach.

With regard to your question, a facelift does not really address the upper part of the face where crow’s feet lines are prominent. Facelifts are more focused on the mid-and lower parts of the face, particularly the cheek and jowl area; and the direction in which facelifts are performed does not really directly affect crow’s feet lines. You could get some improvement if you make the incisions go high into the hairline, such as a lateral or temporal brow lift, but the skin vector will not be enough to flatten the area.

That said, if you’re concerned about crow’s feet lines, then I recommend you deal directly with the orbicularis oculi muscle using Botox. You can also consider having a laser treatment with platelet-rich plasma to improve overall skin quality and fine lines.

I hope that was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!

Amiya Prasad, MD
New York Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Surgery may not be the best treatment for crow’s feet

Crow’s feet are caused by underlying muscle contractions, and as such cannot be eliminated completely though surgery. The best treatment for crow’s feet is Botox, which will relax the wrinkle causing muscles and allow the wrinkles to smooth out. If your crow’s feet are especially deep, laser resurfacing may help as well. I suggest visiting a board-certified facial plastic surgeon for a consultation to find out what your best options are. I hope this helps

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Facelift Does Not Remedy Crow's Feet

Excellent question. Facelift surgery is not particularly effective on the wrinkles that form around the outer corners of the eyes, better known as crow's feet. This is because facelift surgery primarily improves the lower portion of the face. The most effective treatment for crow's feet is botulinum toxin injections (BOTOX). Happily, this treatment is nonsurgical and relatively simple. Otherwise, adding a forehead lift to your lower facelift, aka full facelift, would address the crow's feet, the outer brows, and the forehead.

Marc DuPéré, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Can a facelift improve my crows feet?

Yes, a facelift can improve your crows feet.  This depends on your surgeon's technique, expertise and experience.  

The crow's feet region may be undermined as part of the face lift, smoothing the overlying skin.  Additionally, the underlying muscle, lateral orbicularis, may be trimmed to decrease movement in the area.  

Of course, if you or your surgeon are uncomfortable, you may benefit from Botox and skin treatments along with your facelift.

Ernest Robinson, MD
Aliso Viejo Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Facelift Won't Fix Crow's Feet

Facelift improvements are directed at the jowls, neck, and possibly the volume of the midface. Crow’s feet are not addressed directly in a facelift. They arise from a combination of eyelid muscle contraction and the bunching of skin when a person smiles. Crow's feet are best addressed by BOTOX Cosmetic injections in the outer area of the eyes.

Louis C. Cutolo, Jr., MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Can a facelift improve crows feet?

Hi, Crow's feet can be improved using a neurotoxin injection (Botox, Xeomin or Disport) or with a Coronal Brow Lift that dissects below the orbiculares muscles along the outside edges of the eye socket.  Facelifts are designed to reduce the appearance of "jowls" as described below while removing excess facial tissues (skin and fat).

I have performed facelifts for over 30 years and have performed many minimally, invasive type facelifts. Following the beauty principles outlined in my book on face and body beauty, women look the most feminine, youthful and attractive with heart shaped faces. Heart shaped faces have cheeks that are full and round in the front. Cheek augmentation with a dermal filler or using cheek implants for a permanent enhancement will create full, round cheeks that will feminize the entire face.

A weak chin can create an imbalance making the nose appear larger, the mid face top heavy and the lower face look short that de-emphasizes the lips and allows early formation of a double chin. Chin augmentation using a chin implant will add projection to the chin creating harmony and balance to the lower face. I have found that placement of a silastic chin implant, through a small curved incision under the chin (also allows excess skin removal) to be very safe, quick and highly effective.

"Jowls” are sagging facial tissues and an indication for some form of a SMAS facelift. The underlying SMAS layer, of the face, must be dissected, lifted, trimmed and re-sutured (not merely folded or suspended with threads or sutures that will not last). The excess skin is then removed and the facelift incisions closed.

My most popular facelift is the minimally invasive, short incision facelift that has all the benefits of more invasive facelifts (traditional, mid-face and subperiosteal facelifts) but with these added benefits:

  • very small incisions
  • minimal tissue dissection = less bruising and swelling = rapid recovery
  • can be performed in 90 minutes or less, with or without general anesthesia
  • no incisions within the hair = no hair loss
  • excess fat can be removed
  • excess skin removed
  • cheeks, chin and jaw line can be augmented with dermal fillers (I prefer Restylane Lyft) or facial implants
  • most patients fly back home to parts all over the world in as little as 3 days post-op
I combine facial shaping with every facelift procedure. When jowls are present, these should be done in concert and not alone or separately in order to create a naturally, more attractive face.

Hope this helps.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Can a facelift improve crows feet?

Thank you for your question.  A facelift will not improve crows feet.  Crows feet are caused by contraction of the muscles of facial expression.  Botox is the appropriate treatment for crows feet.

Can a facelift improve crows feet?

A facelift will improve crow's feet, but only mildly. A brow lift will improve the crow's feet more than a facelift (they can be performed at the same time). However, if your crow's feet are your major issue, a non-surgical approach with a neurotoxin (such as Botox) may take care of your concerns.

Warren J. Katz, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 15 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.