What Are the Pros and Cons of a Face Lift?

Doctor Answers 57

Pros and Cons of a facelift

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I believe the best facelifts don't look like facelifts. They just make people look their best. I often ask patients to bring photos of themselves from their youth to see how things have changed. My goal is always to make people look like the best version of themselves as possible  The pros of surgery is that people will feel a renewed confidence without looking "done.

The cons can include safety issues  Other cons are the facelifts that look like facelifts.  Distorted hairlines, odd shaped ears or pulled up looks or hollows in the face are telltales of a facelift that is not well done.People should not looked pulled or distorted after a facelift. In almost every facelift I perform, I incorporate some fat grafting to restore some of the natural fullness of youth. 

A facelift is a permanent chance. I encourage everyone considering facial rejuvenation to atke their time, view many photos, do research and ask many questions before seelecting a plastic surgeon to perform your facelift. 

The following are a few things that can distinguish some surgeons from others

1) Graduating from a top tier medical school at the top of their class.

2) Membership in Alpha Omega Alpha. This is the medical honors society. Alpha Omega Alpha is to medicine what Phi Beta Kappa is to undergraduate universities.

3) Formal surgical training from prestigious medical universities. The minimum number of years of surgical training for plastic surgeons to be bord certified in five years. Some physicians have as many as ten years of formal surgical training. There simply is no substitute for stelar academic and practical surgical training.

4) Very experienced surgeons with meticulous surgical technique and natural looking outcomes will have photgraphic evidence of their work. Patients should be able to view many photos of the surgery of interest, photgraphed from three different perspectives all with similar lighting, distance from the camera and cropping

The elite experience extends beyond the surgeon to the facility, and the surgical team. You should be able to see the surgical theater and know who else will be in the OR with you during surgery. The Joint Commission (JCAHO) is an organization that provides certification to hospital OR's. The Joint Commission and AAAASF are two of the organizations that can provide certification to surgical suites. Some plastic surgeons elect to have their surgery centers dually certified.

The anesthesia experience is critical to a safe and comfortable surgical experience. A board certified anesthesiologist can administer general or MAC anesthesia. My preference is to have a board-certified anesthesiologist at the bedside of my patients for the duration of surgery.

Plastic surgeons who cater to high profile individuals who place a high value on privacy will have a private first floor entrance and exit so patients never need to be in a public lobby or elevator for pre-operative or post operative visits.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Face Lift?

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A properly done facelift leaves a patient looking fresher, younger and overall rejuvenated without obvious signs of surgery such as tension lines.  It is also an opportunity to restore volume to sunken areas and even rejuvenate skin as a result of fat transfer with the contained stem cells!  Many patients feel that they look 10-20 years younger in my experience however being subjective I never make promises of that sort.  The average time to repeat a facelift is 10-12 years in my practice though I have seen patients wait 16-18 years for a redo.  I attribute this to a thorough approach which looks more natural and lasts longer IMO.
A facelift has associated risks of poor healing, bleeding (hematoma 4-5% risk) and rare motor or sensory nerve injury (usually temporary but rarely long term).  If the incision is not properly designed, the sideburns can be raised and the hairline behind the ear altered with bad consequences aesthetically.  I have seen rare patients who came to me years after having a facelift elsewhere who either saw no long lasting improvement or suffered from pain.  This is rare and has never occurred in my personal experience but is a warning to "shop" carefully.  
Do your homework carefully and be certain that you have justifiable confidence in the experience of the doctor whom you've chosen as your surgeon.  The best outcome with least complication risk is when the procedure is done properly the first time.
Best wishes.

Jon A Perlman MD FACS
Certified, Am Board of Plastic Surgery
Member, Am. Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS)
Beverly Hills, CA

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Advantages and trade-offs of face lifts

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The advantages, clearly, are dramatic results that can be drastic or natural depending on your preference and choice of surgeon.  I'll add a video to help summarize these points.


Best of luck


Chase Lay, MD

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

The Upside and Downside of the Facelift

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Starting with the cons: You will need to put your life "on hold" for about 2 weeks while you are healing. This takes some planning for most people to be out of the public eye for this period of time. Secondly, it can be expensive depending on what combination of procedures you have done. Third, you could end up with an "overdone" look, so be very careful in picking your surgeon.

Now looking at the pros: The first most obvious is the feeling of a new lease on life, rolling the clock back 10 or more years is the main motivation. A popular comment at the time of consultation is, "I want to look as young as I feel".  Another popular reason these days is feeling more competitive in a youth driven job market. The boost in self esteem helps many gain the confidence needed to seek reemployment.

Miguel Delgado, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Pros and Cons of Facelift

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Facelift is the "gold standard" for facial rejuvenation.

A well planned facial rejuvenation incorporates various techniques, including fillers and resurfacing, as most appropriate for each individual patient.

The "pros" of Facelift, as a surgical correction include the most effective, powerful and enduring technique to remove excess skin and lift drooping skin of the face, jawline and neck.

The "cons" include cost, undergoing a surgical procedure and recovery, scars, rsks of surgery.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Face lifts - my thoughts in Santa Barbara

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Aging of the face affects each patient individually and therefore, consideration of any facial rejuvenation is a very personal decision. The facelift procedure, or rhytidectomy, addresses many aspects of the aging face in order to restore a refreshed, more youthful appearance. Areas of concern may be varied or specific.

Commonly, the regions of the jowls and cheeks are of particular interest to patients. With age, there is a loss of the youthful volume in the mid-face region in most patients. There also may be a concern regarding the definition of the jaw line, or excess tissue of the neck that can be seen as fullness, vertical bands, or the blunting of the angle below the jaw. The appearance of lines near your eyelids or around the mouth, or a lowering of the position of your brow may also be evident. While all of these issues may be addressed surgically, no cookie-cutter operation will achieve all of the goals that you may seek. The facelift operation must be specifically customized to each and every patient.

When considering a facelift procedure, careful assessment must involve evaluation of your facial balance. Your skin quality, the appearance and position of facial lines, and additionally your general health of the patient must be carefully addressed, as must the bony facial structure. The meticulous analysis of the patient's facial form is one of the most interesting aspects of plastic surgery.

As techniques in facelift procedures have evolved, many operations have been touted as the best way to achieve a youthful appearance. I believe that a safe approach to the facelift procedure is of foremost importance, and that an individual may benefit from a combination of surgical techniques. The SMAS, or suspension layer of the face, is almost always addressed in these operations. This layer is in continuity with the superficial muscle layer of the neck, and this can be taken advantage of in the contouring of a mini-facelift, or limited-incision procedure. The SMAS layer can be manipulated during surgery to provide a thinner facial shape in patients with a round face, or the SMAS can be used in different ways to provide volume to a face that appears hollowed. Improvement of the contour of the cheek may be performed by manipulation of the SMAS layer, or alternatively by lifting from a well-hidden eyelid approach. It is specific knowledge of facial anatomy, combined with a breadth of surgical techniques that allows your plastic surgeon to create an individualized approach for facial rejuvenation.

In combination with the facelift operation, ancillary procedures may be utilized to achieve optimal results. These may include eyelid surgery such as blepharoplasty, brow elevation, lip lifting or augmentation, or filling in the deeper lines above and below the corners of the mouth: the nasolabial folds and marionette lines. In depth discussions of each of these procedures allows the patient, as well as the surgeon, feel comfortable with the decision making process.

The good, the bad, and the natural facelift

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Every cosmetic treatment has its pros and cons; facelift surgery is no exception. The surgery is very safe and effective in skilled hands, such as those of a board certified ( The American Board of Plastic Surgery) Plastic Surgeon.

The clear advantage of facelift surgery is a longer lasting, more definitive correction of aging-related problems, often with results lasting for more than 5 to 10 years. Current techniques are extremely advance with more results for a lesser down time. The surgery can generally be done as a same day procedure, going home shortly after surgery.

The disadvantages of facelifting include some recovery time, often 2 weeks, with visible signs of surgery. There are always risks with the surgery, and that is the reason to go to a trained expert. In general, the pros strongly outweigh the cons, giving a natural enhancement.

Julius W. Few, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Facelifts: The Good and the Bad

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Thank you for your question.

Pros: Removal of excess skin, lifting of drooping skin along face, jawline, and neck
Cons: Cost, undergoing surgery, recovery time, scars, swelling/bruising, and risks of surgery

Ramtin Kassir, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Pros and cons of facelift

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When a facelift is performed by an expert facelift surgeon on a good surgical candidate the results can dramatically enhance ones beauty.   The procedure is the most powerful tool in facial rejuvenation.   The cons include recovery time and rare surgical complication.    

Philip Solomon, MD, FRCS
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 118 reviews

Facelift pros and cons

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A nicely done facelift can look absolutely great.  These are among my happiest patients.  But it is surgery which does involve some risks, including scars, bleeding and infection.  If you go to a reputable, experienced surgeon, the risks are low.  Also check out the surgeon's work and serif the work looks natural.  Good luck!

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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.