The 5 Minute Facelift – Injecting Hope

This advertising phrase has been used countless times in the world of cosmetic surgery. I usually just gloss over it and write it off as exuberant advertising. After all, very few things in life of any value can really be obtained in just five minutes…even a good cup of coffee takes almost that long to get. But seeing this phrase as the main topic on the cover of a major magazine of good reputation made writing about it irresistible.

The concept of the ‘5 Minute Facelift’, beyond the slathering on of alleged beauty crèmes that ‘really work’, relates to the contemporary use of injectable fillers. Not to be confused with Botox (which paralyzes small areas of facial muscles) which is also injected, fillers add volume to the face underneath the skin. Most commonly used for the lips and the facial parentheses (a.k.a. lip-cheek grooves), it has become more widely used for many other areas of the face. Since one’s face is known to lose fat as we age, plumping up the face with fillers can have some rejuvenative effect. Inflating the face pushes out the skin and accounts for the claims of ‘making wrinkles disappear instantly’.

The allure of the 5 Minute Facelift, however, must be looked at more closely to see if it is real. The five minute part for any injectable treatment is not exactly accurate. Since placing the material requires multiple needle sticks, most people would prefer to take a little longer…if they could be numbed up for it. Getting good local anesthesia before having your face injected is appealing to just about everyone. As I always say…nobody ever says they are too numb. (or conversely, can I have just a little more pain?)  While the actual injections may only take five or ten minutes to do, the preparation for it is much longer.

Time is not important, however, if the procedure does what it promises. I’ll bet most people would be willing to spend several hours if it would take away five or ten years in such a short period of time. Does plumping up the skin really achieve a facelift? Not by what most people would consider a facelift to be. While inflating a hot air balloon will lift it, such a phenomenon does not really occur in the aging face. While some areas of the facial skin can be made smoother and little volume added to the cheeks and lips, those falling eyebrows, heavy eyelids, or jowls and sagging neck will not be improved. A few wrinkles may be better but calling that a facelift is more than just a bit grandiose.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the 5 Minute Facelift was really possible. Would it be a good idea? If you were going to an event or wanted any improved look for a few months, then it is clearly better than any surgical alternative. When viewed from the perspective of value, however, it is not a good investment. The volume of injectable fillers needed and their cost could easily be several thousand dollars. For a treatment that lasts six months or less (there are no permanent injectable fillers) that money would be better saved and eventually invested in a surgical facelift which is proven to last many years.

The 5 Minute Facelift, also called the Liquid Facelift, sounds too good to be true because it is. It undoubtably appears on magazine covers because it makes you instantly grab it off the rack and turn to the article. Injectable fillers have been a revolutionary facial treatment for adding small areas of temporary plumping. But to say they can lift a sagging face is like that hot air balloon…over plumped and soon to be lost in the horizon of hope.  

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana