What is a Liquid Facelift?

Is a liquid facelift safer then facelift surgery?  Can i get almost surgery-like results from one?

Doctor Answers 114

Liquid facelift- what is it?

A liquid facelift involves placing large amounts of fillers into the face. The benefit is temporary. To achieve the effect of a facelift, it is not uncommon to spend $5000- $6000 in injectables, only to have them completely disappear in 6 months. Then the patient can come in for another "liquid facelift"...

A "liquid facelift" is not a true facelift, and is really a misuse of the word. Well-done facelifts offer permanent benefits to patients and look natural in the process. Modern facelifts often use all-natural fillers such as fat or LiveFill to augment volume. An important component of a true facelift is tightening. No tightening at all is performed with a "liquid facelift".

Liquid facelift could also be considered to be fat injection alone, with no tightening of the skin and restructuring of the deep layer. However the recovery for fat injection ot the entire face is extensive, probably longer than that for a real facelift.

Many patients who don't have the recovery time or funds for a real facelift, or need to look good in a hurry (reunions, interviews, etc) certainly benefit from fillers. Fillers are wonderful and enhance areas of lost volume.

The "liquid facelift" is a temporary, expensive incomplete fix. It is not a facelift.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

A 'liquid facelift' can mean different things to different plastic surgeons.

A 'liquid facelift' can mean different things to different plastic surgeons. Generally speaking, it would involve injecting some form of dermal filler such as Juvederm, Restylane, or Radiesse and perhaps adding some Botox. This type of treatment would be more ideally suited for the type of patient that truly doesn't need a true facelift. It's all marketing. The term is 'catchy'.

Sanjay Grover, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 212 reviews

The liquid facelift removes a tired, gaunt look with full plump cheeks

Do you look in the mirror and see your mother or father staring back at you? We all inherit our facial features and we all at some point begin to age and our face reminds us of one or both of our aging parents. That’s OK, but not when we are in our late thirties or early forties. We all want to stay young looking but most of us do not want to go through a face lift-it is scary, we lose time from work, and we do not want to look like a different person-we want to look the same just younger. Exciting new techniques using FDA approved soft tissue fillers have enabled us to actually plump specific areas of the face that have lost fat and sagged. These new filler techniques actually allow us to lift the cheek and drooping areas around the mouth. Results are very exciting when the technique is properly applied. Because we are injecting liquid or semi solid fillers we call this technique the liquid face lift.

Why Our Faces Begin to Look Older

We talk to so many people every day in our Boston area office about some type of facial rejuvenation. Most men and women feel that their faces look aged because they are sagging and worry that they need to be nipped and tucked to look younger. These patients look in the mirror see a need for a facelift and a facelift only. In fact, there are many things that contribute to an aging face: lines, wrinkles, discoloration and sagging skin. The one factor that most people don’t consider is loss of fullness.

A youthful face is plump with full rounded cheeks. The cruelness of aging is that people lose fat in their faces and gain it elsewhere. Sadly fat in a face contributes to filling out the skin and keeping a face looking smooth and supple while fat tends to do the opposite in other areas of the body.

We can’t blame all aging on a loss of fat. At 25, we stop producing collagen. Collagen plays a major role in the strength of skin and its decreased production leads to sagging. In addition, loss of muscle occurs with age and affects the facial contour.

Why Have a Face Lift

If loss of fullness is a significant reason for our aging, why do people need and get facelifts? Why not just add fullness to achieve a youthful look again?

The complex answer is that some people need volume, some need surgery and some need both. A properly done face lift in the appropriately selected patient can produce an excellent result.

The Liquid Face Lift

Rarely are people excited to have surgery, so many people that come to see us ask about other options or things to do in the present time to possible delay the eventual need for a surgical procedure. The internet and media have discussed and promoted the liquid face lift and many patients ask about it. This lift is a lifting, plumping, filling, smoothing and re-contouring of the face with a combination of various injectable dermal fillers and neurotoxins.

The injectable dermal fillers that we use in our office for facial re-contouring are hydroxyl apatite (Radiesse™ and hyaluronic acid (Juvederm™, Restalyn™ and now Perlane™). Most people know these products when used to treat nasal labial folds (the lines connecting your nose to your face) or to plump the lips. Results can be very nice.

Patients achieve nice improvement of these lines with injectable dermal fillers but these products can also be used to increase fullness in other areas of the face and this is what the liquid face lift achieves.

The mid cheek area can be augmented with fillers and this new volume significantly enhances a youthful face. In fact, cheeks with more volume typically have less dramatic nasal labial fold lines. A third area treated in this lift is the pre-jowl sulcus. These are the vertical lines that are on either side of the mouth. They connect the edges of the mouth to the jaw. These are also known as Marionette lines.

To achieve these results, often a few different fillers are used in each procedure. Each filler listed above has its own specific characteristics. They are made in different ways and are intended to be used for different situations. The use of fillers for facial augmentation is very patient specific and surgeon specific.

Botox™ Also Helps Enhance the Liquid Face Lift

The use of botulinum toxin (Botox™) in addition to injectable dermal fillers can make for better, longer-lasting results. Botox™ blocks the nerve impulses that cause muscle contractions. When injected into specific areas, it effectively relaxes the muscles that are responsible for making certain facial expressions; these repeated facial expressions contribute to the breakdown of collagen in certain areas, leading to deep creases and expression lines. Lines that can be reduced with Botox™ are frown lines, worry lines, crows feet, bunt lines, and lip lines. No, Botox™ does not make you look like a figure in the wax museum! You look like yourself after Botox™, just you without frown lines, worry lines, crows feet and lip lines. Botox™ has been safely used in young children with spastic muscle problems since 1978 and is widely used around the world. Results of Botox™ injection in the crows feet can be dramatic:

Botox™ can be very useful when dermal fillers have been used to fill in expression lines, such as the creases that formed when smiling. The repeated over-use of the surrounding muscles will cause the filler to break down more quickly. This breakdown shortens the length of time before more injections are needed to maintain results. With less muscle contraction after Botox TM the filler used for your liquid face lift should last longer.

How Long Does It Take to Have A Liquid Face Lift?

Facial recontouring as described above can be accomplished in an office visit. A combination of nerve blocks and local anesthetics makes for the treatment to be very easily tolerated. What must happen first though is a thorough consultation with a plastic surgeon. In our office, we perform a lengthy review of your past medical history, allergies, previous facial treatments and ultimately your facial concerns and goals. The whole visit including treatment may take 45 minutes to an hour.

How Will I Look Right After?

You will see the early results immediately-we hand you a mirror and let you see. The results will improve over the next 3-6 weeks as the filler absorbs fluids and the body starts making new collagen in response to the filler.

Usually there is minimal or no bruising. The area may be slightly swollen and pink from the injection, but ice packs take care of this. With makeup you should be fine right after treatment or certainly the next day.

Who Is the Best Candidate for the Liquid Face Lift?

Ideal candidates are realistic men and women who are beginning to notice gaunt, sunken features and suffering from loss of tissue volume causing wrinkles, lines, and folds. These patients should have good skin texture and elasticity, be in good physical and psychological health and non smoking. Most patients are in their mid to late thirties up to patients in their fifties and sixties. Age does not matter, what matters is whether you have lost facial volume and want to plump your face to a more youthful appearance.

Liquid Facelift, Temporary Results w/ Little to no Downtime

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 or non-surgical options 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.

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

Is a liquid facelift safer and as good as surgical facelift?

Is a "liquid facelift" safer than facelift surgery? Short answer: Yes.

Can I get almost surgery-like results from one? Short answer: No.

The so-called "liquid facelift" is use of one or several injectable fillers (Restylane, Perlane, Juvederm Ultra, Juvederm Ultra Plus, Radiesse and others, though these are the most common) in conjunction with Botox or Dysport (muscle paralytics helpful in reducing dynamic skin wrinkles, but not static ones) to restore facial volume, reduce wrinkles, and provide some degree of facial rejuvenation. If you don't have much skin laxity or sagging, and your lines aren't too deep or severe, then you can have nice results from the "liquid facelift." But of course, if all you need are these relatively minor improvements, then you didn't really qualify for the more dramatic and visible changes achievable via surgical facelift. So, as with most things, you get what you pay for. If you really need a facelift, a "liquid facelift" will only make slight improvements or delay the need for more aggressive surgical intervention--it will never replace a well-performed surgical facelift!

As to safety--any surgical procedure has risks, but so does driving a car, or doing virtually any kind of activity. True, these risks are minimal--we drive to work or play each and every day, usually without problem. Yet, over 35,000 people die each year in traffic accidents in the US, with nearly 3 billion miles driven, so this is rare when taken in context of the risk per mile driven. Facelift surgery is serious surgery, which is why you should seek a well-trained, experienced, board-certified surgeon who operates in an accredited facility with well-trained, experienced, certified anesthesia providers. The risk of any complication is low if you adhere to the above advice and follow your surgeon's recommendations.

So, proceed with what will give you the most bang for your buck, and the most satisfaction for your goals! Neither option is wrong unless you are trying to get surgical results with a non-surgical choice. Best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Liquid facelift is NOT a facelift

Let me repeat that. a liquid face-lift is not a facelift. It is the use of fillers to round out the face and give a more youthful look. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it will not do what a facelift will do and you will spend a fair amount of money to get 6-12 months of limited correction. Fillers and botox /Dysport are great products but they have limitations that must be discussed with you before you undergo a procedure.

Steven Schuster, MD, FACS
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Liquid facelifts

 A liquid facelift does not substitute for a facelift and especially won't do anything for a loose neck.  Some young patients with volume loss and early signs of facial aging can have a nice improvement with fillers and Botox but eventually will need a real facelift.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Liquid face lift vs Surgical face lift

Liquid face lifts tend to camouflage the effects of aging without achieving a true anatomical repositioning of aging tissues. The results tend to be short term and need to be repeated. They are excellent methods of accomplishing rapid, minimal down time corrections with relatively low risk. Over the long term, it may cost more than surgery.

  • Liquid face lifts utilize injections to achieve the appearance of a more youthful face. Generally, it involves a combination of fillers and chemodenervation (botox like) agents.
  • Movement wrinkes are treated with Botox.
  • Bony/fatty atrophy, depressions, lines and grooves, furrows, folds can be filled with a variety of fillers.

Surgical face lifts ar longer term corrections that intially tend to cost more and pose greater risks.

Surgical face lifts address the bony skeleton, fatty deposits, muscle postions, and skin laxity.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

To the surgeon, sounds like an annuity!

In response to some of the other doctor's coments, I must agree.

I would encourage you to consider your finances, your goals, and what is bothering you. Put that into the context that you may consider the face in segments and have rejuvenation in a "modular fashion". In other words rejuvenate the area that bothers you the most, and when you have time, money, desire, etc. go after the next area of concern.

This modular approach allows you to treat the worst trouble area now, and not affect other areas when it is time to rejuvenate. Knowing this is a likely possibility (we are all getting older you know), the surgeon can rejuvenate a module, and not burn any bridges for the future.


Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

What is a liquid facelift?

The term "liquid facelift" refers to the use of injectable fillers to produce facial rejuvenation.injections are not necessarily a substitute for surgery.  The goals that can be achieved with volume replacement are very different from those which are achieved surgically.  In many cases patients require both surgery and volume replacement wall in others either one procedure or the other would be best.  I strongly suggest consultation with a surgeon who has expertise in both surgical and nonsurgical facial rejuvenation to determine your best options.

Brian Biesman, MD
Nashville Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 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.