American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

The natural facelift: Exploring advanced techniques for subtle and age-appropriate facial rejuvenation

the natural facelift

If you're in your late forties or beyond, you may notice sagging, wrinkling and loss of elasticity when you look in the mirror. And for some of you, it may be negatively impacting your self-confidence. While a facelift can be a wonderful way to restore your youthful appearance and boost self-confidence, the fear of looking unnatural afterward can sometimes be a real concern.

"When people talk about an unnatural facelift, the first thing that comes to most people's minds is the windswept look of being pulled too tight," said Adam Schaffner, MD, FACS. "That's what people are concerned about, looking too tight. But we have to remember there's a lot of other things that can cause someone to look unnatural."

Schaffner said when you see a celebrity or politician with an unnatural facelift result, it's often because "certain principles were not respected." He said some surgeons don't work with the patient's natural vectors or respect their individual anatomy, which can lead to an unnatural-looking facelift or even damage to critical structures, like nerves.

Find a qualified plastic surgeon

So how do you ensure your facelift turns out looking natural? The first step is to do your research and choose a board-certified surgeon. Luckily, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has got your back with the handy Find a Plastic Surgeon tool to verify your surgeon's credentials.

When it comes to your health, safety is the highest priority. Choosing the right surgeon can make all the difference in the quality of your results. While there are many qualified and skilled practitioners, it's important to understand the key differences between a "cosmetic" surgeon and a board-certified plastic surgeon.

While both may perform similar procedures, board-certified plastic surgeons undergo extensive training and rigorous testing to ensure their mastery of the field. They must also adhere to strict ethical and safety standards to maintain their certification.

Do not be confused by other official-sounding boards and certifications.

"A lot of these cosmetic surgeons do these short training programs, and they're able to get their patients by way of social media hype and lower prices," said Amir Tahernia, MD, FACS.

Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon is a smart and safe choice that will give you peace of mind and optimal, natural-looking facelift results.

Ensure hospital privileges

But that's not all – Schaffner also advises patients to make sure their surgeon has operating privileges at a nearby hospital. Why? Well, in case of an emergency or complication during or after your surgery, your surgeon can provide follow-up care and ensure that you get the treatment you need.

Plus, having these privileges is a sign that your surgeon has the training and experience to perform your procedure with the utmost skill and care. So, remember to research and choose a surgeon with the proper credentials to give you the natural results you want – safely!

Spill all of your secrets to your surgeon

If you're planning on getting a facelift, there are some essential things you need to disclose to your plastic surgeon before going under the knife. First and foremost, spill the tea on all your previous aesthetic procedures, including any fillers you may have had – especially if they contained stimulatory agents like Sculptra.

Your surgeon also needs to know if you've had thread lifts or any energy-based device treatments like Ultherapy, FaceTite, AccuTite or J-Plasma.

"All of these things can change the quality and consistency of your tissues, which can make things more challenging for the surgeon, and they need to be prepared from a dissection perspective for what they may run into," said Schaffner.

By being upfront about your past procedures, your surgeon can ensure they have enough time to work their magic in the operating room and give you the flawless results you're after. So, don't keep any secrets from your plastic surgeon!

Taking the plunge

Congratulations if you've decided that facelift surgery is right for you, and you've found a board-certified plastic surgeon. The next step is preparing for surgery to ensure good results and a speedy recovery.

To help you achieve the best possible outcome, we've put together some essential tips to help prepare your body and mind for this transformative procedure.

Stop smoking

First and foremost, it's essential not to smoke or vape. That's because nicotine constricts veins and limits nutritional blood flow to the skin, which causes poor wound healing. If you do smoke or vape, your surgeon will most likely require you to stop in the weeks or months prior to surgery.

"If patients are smokers, forget about it. They're not having surgery. They need to stop smoking because face surgery is incredibly delicate," said Tahernia.

Lose weight first

Next, you must be at a stable weight that you're satisfied with because losing weight after a facelift can affect your result.

"If you're still losing weight, let's wait until you're done so that we can assess the skin at that point because we don't want to do surgery and have it become loose again, which often happens," said Tahernia.

Get healthy for surgery

A healthy lifestyle leading up to your surgery is key. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients and vitamins, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. It's also important to avoid alcohol, which increases the risk of complications.

Follow your preoperative instructions

In addition to these lifestyle changes, it's crucial to follow your surgeon's preop instructions carefully. This may include avoiding certain medications, such as blood thinners, which can increase the risk of bleeding during surgery. Your surgeon may also recommend you take specific supplements, such as arnica, to help reduce bruising and swelling.

Reduce stress

Stress can also impact your body's ability to heal, so it's important to practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing to help reduce anxiety and promote a calm state of mind. This will help you feel more relaxed leading up to your surgery and help your body heal more efficiently postop.

Get extra help

Lastly, arrange for someone to help you with daily tasks during your recovery period, as you will likely need to take time off work and limit physical activity for several weeks. Following these guidelines and preparing your body and mind for surgery can ensure a smooth and successful facelift experience.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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