Q: Dr. Eppley, can I get a facelift with a laser? A doctor I was seeing for a skin condition said that he could get me some lifting of my jowls with a laser. My jowls are beginning to sag and it would be nice to have a straight jawline again. What is your experience with the success of skin tightening with a laser?
A: There are many products and devices out there that lay claim to being able to “lift the face”. All of them offer the same fundamental appeals, minimal recovery and lower cost than a real facelift, which is understandably attractive. The laser is one of the most sophisticated of these non-surgical devices and its high-tech nature makes it seem like it should be able to accomplish that facial effect. While lasers have a very valuable role in facial rejuvenation through its skin resurfacing effects, improving loose and saggy skin is not one of them. Lasers, particularly the more recent development of fractional laser technologies, can smooth out the skin, reduce wrinkles, and provide a mild amount of skin tightening. Ask any patient who has had full face laser resurfacing and they will tell you that their face definitely feels and looks tighter. But this laser skin tightening effect should not be confused with what most people want to accomplish when they use the term ‘facelifting’. Its effects are not great enough to lift and smooth out sagging jowls and loose neck skin. Lasers have their greatest skin tightening effects when they are combined with any of the various forms of facelifts available today. In your case, having a small jowl lift combined with full or partial facial laser resurfacing can produce some really significant improvements that will persist for years. Just don’t try and achieve that effect with a laser treatment alone.
Dr. Barry Eppley