The concept of facelifting has evolved considerably in the past fifteen years. Not only has the techniques of facelift surgery changed, but how it has become markerted and advertised has changed as well. When you throw in the media coverage of celebrities and some of their results, understanding facelift surgery becomes even more muddled.
The options in facelift surgery are, however, far simpler than it appears. Facelift surgery traditionally speaks to correction of aging of the lower face only, the neck and jowls. As we age, jowling develops first which then leads to neck sagging and eventually the dreaded neck wattle. At its most simplist form, facelifts can either correct the jowls only, the neck only or both.. Thus facelifts can be done either as a partial (aka mini-facelift) or a full version.
The partial facelift is done when jowling is the main problem and any neck issues are either non-existant or minor. A full facelift is needed when the neck problem is the main issue or just as prominent a concern as that of the jowls. Thus, partial or limited facelifts are usually done on younger patients (less than age 55 or so) who have yet to develop significant neck sagging. The recovery from mini-facelifts is quicker because the operation is shorter and less technical manevers and tissue manipulations are done.. These are also the type of facelifts that have become very popular, largely driven by people in the workface trying to look younger and refreshed to remain competitive. They have been given a lot of different marketing names that imply less surgery and faster surgery and recovery, all of which is true. But don’t let the names fool you, they are all very much the same surgery.
A full facelift is usually needed in patients 55 to 60 years and older when the neck is a noticeable aging feature and either flaps or gets in the way of shirts and neck wear. In these more complete facelift patients, other procedures may be beneficial and are combined with it such as eyelid tucks and browlift surgeries. It is these combination procedures that give the impression that a facelift is a very extensive operation from which it takes a month to recover.
In between the mini- and full facelift patients lies an almost third category. This is where a partial facelift is not enough and a full facelift maybe more than what is needed. This may be perceived as a 3/4 facelift whose level of invasiveness and recovery is somewhere between a partial and full facelift.
Dr. Barry Eppley