Lifting the face and neck surgically is a proven way to turn back the clock and get lasting anti-aging results. While a facelift will remove sagging skin and smooth out folds and wrinkles, it is important to have realistic expectations about what this procedure can accomplish. Dr. Eric P. Bachelor of East Bay Plastic Surgery in Pleasanton, CA has performed countless facial procedures with exceptional results. He shares what benefits patients can expect.
Smoothing Out Folds and Wrinkles
Patients seeking a facelift almost always have the same concerns. Their facial skin has become looser, less elastic, and has begun to sag, particularly around the lower face and neck. Fine lines have become deeper wrinkles, and the folds around their mouth and nose have become more pronounced. Patients might also notice that they have lost fat in certain areas of their face and neck, and gained it in others.
Thankfully, an expertly performed surgical lift can address all of these concerns, but we still advise patients to have realistic expectations. While surgery can certainly take many years off a person’s face, it cannot make them look the way they did when they were 20 years old. As far as wrinkles are concerned, surgery can smooth out very deep lines, but it does not always remove them completely.
Can Wrinkles Be Erased Entirely?
The appearance of wrinkles can be improved dramatically with surgery, but wrinkles will not necessarily disappear completely. To fully iron out every wrinkle would require pulling the skin back to a point where the results would not look natural, and we always aim to give patients as natural a result as possible. Most people do not want to look like they had an obvious facelift – they just want to look younger and more refreshed, which is a realistic goal for surgery.
How to Eliminate Unwanted Creases in the Face
Patients usually find that post-surgery their face looks considerably smoother than it did before. There will be some fine lines and deeper wrinkles that have disappeared, and others that are much less noticeable than they were prior to surgery. Even in the case of those wrinkles that could not be smoothed out entirely, they will still show a marked improvement thanks to surgery.
Once the healing process is complete, some patients decide to use a small amount of filler in certain spots, and that’s fine. While the use of fillers is not usually necessary immediately after a good facelift, there are always some patients who wish to get an additional smoothing effect in some areas. In this sense, it is possible to erase a wrinkle entirely, if that is your goal. Fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm can plump up any wrinkle, anywhere on the face or neck.
We always advise patients that there is no single treatment or procedure that can address every single facial aging concern they have. While surgery can produce dramatic anti-aging results on the face and neck, some patients may wish to schedule other non-invasive treatments to further improve their appearance. As long as the face is fully healed after surgery, this should not be a problem.
Fillers are perfect for addressing stubborn wrinkles that were not completely erased during surgery, and regular Botox injections can help ensure that wrinkles that were significantly reduced do not return any time soon. Once a patient has achieved the final result from surgery, they can always come back into the office for an evaluation of what touch-up treatments might be beneficial.
Having Realistic Expectations
We want patients to know that surgery is an excellent option for reducing sagging and wrinkles, and for lifting the “jowly” appearance that can develop with age, but that there are some things we cannot accomplish with surgery.
We cannot “iron out” the face so that it is as completely smooth and wrinkle-free as it was in a person’s 20s. Surgery will also not be effective at removing skin discoloration and sun damage, although there are other treatments that can help with these issues. During your initial consultation, we can discuss exactly what can be achieved with surgery in your particular case and what might be better addressed with a less invasive treatment.
Who Makes an Ideal Facelift Candidate?
Most men and women over the age of 40 who are in good overall health can benefit from this procedure. We do occasionally see younger patients in their 30’s who are experiencing premature signs of aging, but most people want to wait until they see a significant loss of skin elasticity.
Having a surgical lift before wrinkles have become too deep and the skin has become very loose can be a good idea, because we can create a more natural and subtle effect. Having said this, we also treat patients in their 70’s and beyond with excellent results. As long as a person is healthy enough to go under general anesthesia, a facelift can be successfully performed at any age.
Choosing the Right Lift for You
We perform several different lifting techniques on the face, which can be scheduled individually or all together in one surgery. Patients have the choice of lifting the mid-face, which can address signs of aging around the eyes and cheekbones. Or they can focus on the lower face, which can smooth out the nasolabial folds and restore definition around the jawline.
A brow lift targets the uppermost part of the face to open up the eye area. This can also help to reduce the appearance of forehead wrinkles. A neck lift is not considered part of the group of procedures included in a traditional facelift, but patients often opt to have their neck done at the same time since this is usually one of the first parts of the body to show significant signs of aging.
Preparing for Your Procedure
During your initial consultation, we will review your medical history and any medications you are taking to ensure that you are a good candidate for this procedure (or a combination of procedures). This is also a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the surgery and recovery timeline.
If you have a particular issue you hope to fix with surgery (for example, a deep line across your forehead), we can give you an honest opinion about what outcome you can hope to achieve with surgery. Part of your consultation involves undergoing a facial exam where we take photos of your facial structure from every angle. At this time, we can give you an idea of what can realistically be improved with surgery and what cannot.
How Long Will the Results Last?
Surgery cannot stop the aging process, but patients can expect to maintain their results for anywhere from 7 to 10 years. While surgery does require some extra recovery time compared to less invasive treatments, the pay-off is that patients can realistically expect to enjoy their results on a long-term basis.
Slowing Down the Aging Process
Thankfully there are some relatively simple things we can all do to keep deep lines and sagging skin from coming back any sooner than it needs to. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating well and avoiding smoking and alcohol, can go a long way towards keeping the skin supple. Yo-yo dieting, with the gaining and losing of weight that this entails, can wreak havoc on skin elasticity.
It is also a good idea to keep your face out of the sun and to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen when you do plan to be outdoors for an extended period. Sun is bad for the skin in general, but it does particular damage to the face, which is not covered by clothing like most of the body. Getting in the habit of wearing a hat and using makeup that contains a high SPF rating is strongly advised if you want your face to maintain its more youthful appearance.
Finding the Best Board-Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon in California
If you are thinking of doing something significant to reverse the signs of aging on your face, contact us today at East Bay Plastic Surgery in Pleasanton, CA. Dr. Eric Bachelor, MD, FACS, is a board-certified plastic surgeon with an excellent reputation in this field. We would be pleased to set up a consultation for you with Dr. Bachelor to find out if a facelift might be right for you.