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Journal Report Finds Patients Still Look Younger Five Years After Facelift Surgery
Study is first of its kind to use rigorous, standardized assessments to evaluate long-term follow-up results

Arlington Heights, Ill. - More than five years after facelift surgery, three-fourths of patients still look younger than they did before surgery, according to a long-term follow-up study in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Although some facial areas show signs of aging, a range of objective and subjective assessments demonstrate long-lasting results of facelift surgery, concludes the study by Drs. Barry M. Jones of King Edward VII Hospital, London, and Steven J. Lo of Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Glasgow. They write, "This study provides strong evidence that facelift surgery can provide significant long-term aesthetic gains."

Five Years Later, Lasting Results of Facelift

The researchers analyzed standardized photographs of 50 patients who had undergone facelift surgery an average of 5½ years previously. Three different sets of assessments were performed to determine how well the facelift results held up over time:

  • Objective measurements-such as jowl height and the angle of the chin to the neck
  • Subjective assessments of key areas-such as lines from the nose to mouth and mouth to chin
  • Overall subjective assessment-global score of the patient's appearance

All three sets of assessments showed significant improvement, although with some loss of improvement in the years since facelift surgery. On objective measurements, the improvement in jowl height decreased by about 20 percent during follow-up. There angle of the chin to neck showed even greater reduction, with 70 percent of the improvement being lost.

Subjective assessments also showed lasting improvement in key areas regarded as signs of facial aging-including lines running from the nose to mouth and mouth to chin. These improvements showed little deterioration in the years since surgery. Again, the loss of improvement appeared greatest in the neck area.

The overall subjective assessments strengthened the impression of general improvement. "Scoring suggested that 76 percent of patients will still look younger 5½ years after a facelift than they did prior to the facelift," Drs. Jones and Lo write.

New Evidence Will Help Guide Patient Expectations

The study was designed to help plastic surgeons answer one of the most common questions asked by patients considering facial rejuvenation: 'How long will a facelift last?' Drs. Jones and Lo write, "The longevity of facelift surgery is a key question that has not been adequately addressed by previous studies." Their study is one of the first to use rigorous, standardized assessments to evaluate the long-term follow-up results.

The results suggest that, more than five years after facelift surgery, "There is no significant objective or subjective sign of continued aging or 'relapse' in any area except for the neck." The researchers add, "The vast majority of patients will continue to look better several years after surgery than they did before."

The study provides plastic surgeons with an "objective and validated" baseline to compare the results of different surgical procedures, according to Drs. Jones and Lo. "Furthermore," they add, "this study also supports facelift surgery as the only rejuvenation technique to have objective and subjective evidence for long term efficacy, emphasizing the current lack of evidence of other interventions."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For more than 70 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair, and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

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