The Name Game Of Facelifts

Catching a glance in the mirror or looking at a picture and seeing those sagging jowls and a droopy neck can be a troubling finding. It often seems like it came out of nowhere. I have yet to see a person find this discovery charming. While hope lies in that some magic cream or laser treatment will make it all go away, deep down inside we all know it isn’t true. (but we can dream can’t we?)

When it comes to that loose jowl and neck skin, everyone wants to avoid the dreaded word…facelift. While most people are unaware that a facelift is really just a necklift, everyone would agree that they would like as little surgery as possible. While the fears and recovery surrounding a necklift are largely overstated, one really hopes that they can get by with a ‘minimal’ procedure. This understandable apprehension has led to the nationwide branded selling of facelift surgery.

The best example is that of the Lifestyle Lift. Through their national magazine and television ads, this is a franchise approach to getting a facelift…or some version of it. I have seen many patients who know the name, but don’t really know what it is. Promising to turn the clock back at least ten years and look recovered in just a few days, its catchy name seeks to assure patients that it will fit into their ‘lifestyle’. Interestingly, and perhaps not an oversight, nowhere in their advertising does it even suggest that it is real surgery. Many prospective patients only become aware that it is surgery when they actually visit a company facility.

What is a Lifestyle Lift? While sounding new, it is really quite old and has been practiced by plastic surgeons for decades. It is a scaled-down version of a facelift, a ‘mini-facelift’ if you will.  Sometimes called a tuck-up facelift, a secondary facelift, or a jowl lift, it is a limited operation that best improves those sagging jowls with a little tightening of the neck. The operative word here is a ‘little tightening of the neck’. If you have a neck wattle or turkey neck, this is not the right procedure for you.

Because it has an appealing name, the Lifestyle Lift has created a number of name knock-offs, including the Swiftlift and even the Lunchtime Lift to name just a few. Most of these are surgeons who have jumped on the naming and marketing bandwagon and have given their version of a limited facelift its own name. There is no real difference in the procedure or in whom it is or is not most beneficial.

Because it is heavily marketed and the internet exists, the Lifestyle Lift has its share of critics.  Much of this has to do with trying to make an individualized custom operation into a factory line retail product. As an operation, however, limited types of facelifts do have a valuable role in facial rejuvenation. Not every patient needs or wants a full facelift.

Facelifting is not an operation that should performed the same on everyone. Nor does having a catchy name mean it leads to better results or a quicker recovery. Many plastic surgeons offer similar limited types of  facelifts that just don’t have a branded name, but that doesn’t make them any less effective or useful.

Dr. Barry Eppley