What is the Best Alternative to a Face Lift?

rather than get face lift i would prefer a nonsurgical treatment. what do the doctors say works best for sag in jowls and loose neck skin. what about liquid face lifting?

Doctor Answers 147

The long journey to beautiful skin

Easy things you can do:

1. Don't smoke. Smokers appear years older than their non-smoking piers.
2. Avoid sun. Sunscreen applied once to twice daily reduces sun exposure, but probably only 80%. Golfers, horse riders, swimmers, tennis players especially beware: cover up as much as possible with hats and long sleeves in addition to using sunscreen.
3. Use a good and regular skin care regimen daily to exfoliate
4. Exfoliate monthly with a facial or microdermabrasion
5. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for Retin-A or a related topical compound, tailored for your skin type
6. Watch your weight and exercise regularly. Yo-yo diets and weight gain/loss stretches the skin
7. Eat foods high in antioxidants and fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid procedded foods, fast foods, high sodium foods
8. Avoid excessive drinking and drugs. In addition to the obvious effects, these vices can cause great fluid shifts within the body-- every heard of the bloated drunk?

Now for some of the more involved treatments:

1. Botox and filler at a young age when wrinkles start to appear. Try to stick to hyaluronic acid products; much less tendency to lumpiness that can be permanent (in my humble opinion)
2. Small surgeries when problem start to arise that aren't correctable with filler and Botox, i.e. eyelids, lateral browlifts, LiveFill, subtle minimal incision cheeklifts
3. PhotoFacial treatments. Some patients like Thermage/ReFirme, fractional lasers as less invasive methods which give more subtle results.
4. Beware of gimickry such as lasers that do everything, no incision weekend techniques. Almost every treatment looks better for a few months, then the swelling goes away (and so does your money). Threadlifts also in this category, in my opinion. We routinely remove threadlift materials when patients come in for their minilifts or facelifts.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Don't waste money on facelift alternatives if sagging is significant

If you have significant jowling or neck sagging DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY on non- surgical procedures. You can have a minilift procedure under local anesthesia with long lasting results.

To my knowledge there are no good alternatives to a mini or facelift.


Dr. S.

Oleh Slupchynskyj, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 272 reviews

Alternatives to a Facelift - What can work and When

Surgical or even non-surgical treatment of facial aging changes must be carefully individualized to match each patient's aesthetic needs and desires. In helping a patient to make decisions about plastic surgery for facial rejuvenation, I always examine and assess how each aesthetic area or 'unit' of the face contributes to an individual's overall appearance: the brows and eyelids, the cheeks or 'midface', the lower face and chin, and the neck. An individualized plan is then developed which addresses each patient's specific concerns and needs.

A "liquid facelift" is a procedure that is performed using temporary dermal fillers like Juvederm Restylane or Perlane. There is little to no downtime with a liquid facelift. This might be an ideal treatment for some, but the results are temporary and it does not address excess skin.

Structural fat grafting, sometimes referred to as microfat grafting can provide fullness to lips, cheeks, hollowed upper or lower eyelids and can fill lines and wrinkles on the face. Unlike the liquid facelift, the results from structural fat grafting can be permanent

Laser Skin tightening is a non-invasive treatment with little to no downtime. For individuals with early signs of aging, uneven skin tone, scarring or large pores a laser skin tightening procedure can provide dramatic results.

Full Facial rejuvenation or a full facelift may be the answer for some. Some people looking for facial rejuvenation are interested in the lower face, midface and eyes, others are interested in one area only. Surgical treatment of facial aging changes must therefore be carefully individualized to match each patient's aesthetic needs and desires. No two 'facelifts', by necessity, are the same. In helping a patient to make decisions about plastic surgery for facial rejuvenation, I always examine and assess how each aesthetic area or 'unit' of the face contributes to an individual's overall appearance: the brows and eyelids, the cheeks or 'midface', the lower face and chin, and the neck. An individualized surgical plan is then developed which addresses each patient's specific concerns and needs.

Consult with a plastic surgeon who has experience and expertise in both surgical and non-surgical facial rejuvenation to determine the treatment plan that is best for you.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Liquid Facelift Not Effective For Jowls and Loose Neck Skin

Thank you for your question. The Liquid Facelift can be very effective for the Mid Face and Upper Face. However non surgical facelift alternatives are not very effective for lower face and neck aging.

Non surgical skin tightening procedures such as Thermage, LuxIR Deep, Titan and Ulthera are often promoted as a non surgical Facelift. However these technologies at best give a 20% improvement and you will have to look at before and after pictures to see the benefit.

The best most effective procedure to correct jowls and loose neck skin is a Facelift with a Neck Lift or Platysmaplasty. You will see the difference in the mirror and will not have to be shown photos to convince you of the result.

Be sure to consult an experienced reputable Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.

Alternative Facelift

Today there's many things available to stave off surgery for facial rejuvenation. Nothing can be as long lasting nor as effective as a Facelift if you have significant jowling and your aging is very noticeable but there are some great alternatives that you may find relative improvements in. A great example is Botox, it can be used to raise the corner of your eyebrows, it can be combined with fillers to make wrinkles soften and it can be used in combination with fillers for what some market as a "liquid facelift".

The options available are too many to mention but fillers can be used to augment your cheeks which often have deflated with age along with some underlying degeneration of the cheekbones.

Lastly, improving your skin by a true skin regimen (cleansers, toners, hydrating agents, exfoliants, etcetera) and skin resurfacing. Today's Laser skin resurfacing is much better than what we used to have available to us. Skin surface area can be decreased by as much as 20% with softening of wrinkles, smooting of textures, tightening of skin, lightening age spots, etcetera.

There are many things that can be done prior to surgery but make no mistake of it, I don't think mini operations are a good idea because they're putting scars in areas that will become thinned and rendered useless for later surgery (when you've decided that you absolutely need it).

Today I saw a patient that came in for a little botox, a little Juvederm to her lips and a little Radiesse to her nasolabial folds. I ended up injecting her cheeks as well for a Cheek augmentation. The improvement was significant but we had a conversation that I started about her facelift. She's spending all of her money once a year on injectables that could be resolved with one operation. In the end, she decided to go for the liquid facial rejuvenation. Fine with me, since there's no anatomical injury.

Once a Mini lift is done or some version of a "partial price/partial lift" type operation then the anatomy is changed ever so slightly and the scars are positioned. This will permanently change your end result. The direction in which the pull is made even in a mini changes the possibilities of direction in which the corrective facelift can be done. I've seen quite a bit of this not only in my practice, but you see it in hollywood (on TV) every night. It's become ubiquitous so I favor the liquid techniques that are essentially harmless yet still effective, although temporarily.

Best Wishes.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 119 reviews

There is none

The treatment to any problem must fit. You can't shrink skin significantly and soft tissue that has sagged needs to be repositioned and repaired. Although it would be wonderful to achieve youth with an office treatment, it just doesn't exist. I see several patients each week now who have tried short cuts and have wasted money. If you don't want a facelift, take a vacation or buy yourself something nice. Thermage, Fraxel, etc. are not substitutes./

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Non-surgical facelift alternatives

Many physician offices and medical spas will promise you that they can improve the jowls and neck line with different treatments including fillers, lasers, ultrasonic devices and radiofrequency treatment.  Many of these approaches require multiple visits and give very modest results.

My advice is if you are looking to avoid surgery, explore why that is and see if you can address your specific concerns.  Realistically, anything short of a true facelift will leave you disappointed.  If the issue is cost, there are financing options with many surgeons and yes, this is something worth saving for.  If the issue is concerns about anesthesia, bring this up with your surgeon and find someone who can adequately address those issues so that you can feel comfortable and confident. Same goes for concerns about appearance, scarring, risk of complications, etc.

Facelift is not right for everyone, so if you absolutely must not have one, you can consider many of the medical options described by my colleagues.  If, on the other hand, you are still open to the idea, you should explore it further.  It is not as "big" of an operation as you might believe and the results simply are unmatched.  Beware of those who over-promise on medical alternatives, however.  I see patients on a daily basis who have been disappointed at the money they have wasted on many of the "minimally invasive" treatments.  Sometimes they have spent enough to pay for a facelift twice over.

Paul K. Holden, MD
Phoenix Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Non-surgical facelifts

If you have any sag or lax skin in your jawline or neck, a facelift is the only good option. Non-invasive, topical, or minimally invasive procedures such as Thermage, or fractional laser just do not have the degree of effect that most patients need or desire. These minimally invasive procedures have the best effect on patients that don't really need much of anything done. Once the skin, muscle and fat in the face is sagging, surgery is really the only effective option. 

Patti A. Flint, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Alternatives to a face lift

A facelift, like any decision to have surgery, is a big decision. But it can be very beneficial a procedure to restore the appearance of youth to your face, and tighten skin and underlying fatty tissue and muscles beneath the neck and face. Typically, a face lift is a good option when you have sagging or excess skin along the jaw line and lower face. A facelift can help to rejuvenate these areas and turn back the clock.

But if you don't wish to have surgery, there are at least some alternatives that can help. If you are seeking a facelift simply to alleviate lines around the mouth, fill hollows, and create fullness where there is currently excess skin, filler options may work well for you.

One popular filler is Juvederm, and there are also fillers like Restylane, Perlane, Sculptra, ArteFill and others. Another option is a combination of Botox and a facial filler. Obviously the type of filler you choose will depend on your unique issues, as each filler is not a fix all for everything. It's also important for you to take care of the A,B,C's of proper skin care. That includes hydration, sunscreen, proper eating and exercise, and hygiene as well.

Scott W. Mosser, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Botox, Fillers, IPL, Fraxel and relgiously adhering to a skin care protocol

One of our most common questions is: "What can I do if I am not ready for a facelift?"

There are many wonderful alternatives, each of which addresses a specific concern. When combined, some of these minimally invasive techniques such as Botox, fillers, IPL, Fraxel and Smartlipo of the neck can actually rejuvenate the face significantly. However, none of them can give the result of an actual facelift.

Without exception, these non-invasive techniques require periodic re-treatments. Unfortunately, our patients balk at anything that "is not permanent."

Having great skin and a great complexion is like having great abdominal muscles. The six-pack abdomen only lasts if one continually works at it, just like great skin only lasts if one continually works at having great skin.

The hardest answer to give, and one that patients do not want to hear is that there is no easy (or cheap) fix. When patients are very eager to learn about non-invasive techniques only because they are cheaper than a facelift, they will be invariably disappointed. They will feel like they "spent a fair amount of money" and did not get the results they wanted ( they actually wanted a facelift result without the cost or the time invested).

So if you want a facelift result, get a facelift. Do not expect IPL, fillers, Fraxel, or a liquid lift to give the results of a facelift. But if you don't want to go through with surgery, if you can accept refreshing of the skin as the end-result and can recognize that the above-mentioned non-invasive techniques require a continued commitment, by all means try those because they are quick, rewarding and have lower risks than surgery itself.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 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.