The Surgeon Minute

How to Insure Invisible Facelift Scars

How to Insure Invisible Facelift Scars

There comes a time in every person’s life when the skin on the face begins to sag. It can make you feel old, tired, and past your prime. To restore a healthy, taught look, the facelift procedure tightens the skin and muscles of the neck and face, rejuvenating the entire appearance. The only real downside that patients are concerned with is scars; after all, any surgery will involve some form of scarring. For facelift patients, they are simply the necessary trade-off for a younger looking face.

Patients shouldn’t let the fear of facelift scars deter them from having surgery. Today, trends have developed to make facelift scars *practically invisible*. Dr. Richard Baxter of Mountlake Terrace, WA discusses the key components to insuring that your facelift scars remain as inconspicuous as possible.

Facelift Scars

With a facelift, the goal is always a natural-looking result; no patient wants to look “pulled.” To achieve this, your surgeon will need to remove any excess skin, as well as get underneath your skin’s surface in order to do the lifting and shaping that is the basis of any good facelift. “So, there are scars,” explains Dr. Baxter.

A scar is simply your body’s natural response to skin trauma. Fibrous tissues form to knit or bind the two sides of an open wound together. Since scar tissue contains more collagen than normal skin, it can have a different look and texture – but that doesn’t mean that all scars are going to be noticeable.

Ways to Make Facelift Scars Invisible

The most important key to concealing facelift scars is placement. In general, facelift scars are put in the natural creases within and behind the ear. However, trends have developed over the years to make these scars *even less visible*. The first is that surgeons now bring the incision in front of the hairline. This may seem counterintuitive, but the problem with placing the incisions in the hairline is that it can “displace the hairline up,” explains Dr. Baxter.

This is of particular concern for men. The old way of doing things would often pull up on the sideburn so that “the sideburn would be a level higher than the front of the ear. That is a big tip off,” explains Dr. Baxter. And no one wants their facelift “outed” without it being their choice. Furthermore, surgeons who later went in and tried to bring the hairline back down found that it wasn’t such an easy fix.

SMAS Technique

The second trend that reduces the appearance of facelift scars is a facelift technique called SMAS. Basically, SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system) is a thin layer of fascia and connective tissue that rest below the skin and above the muscle. When a surgeon works on these deeper layers, folding it back to restore youthful vigor to the face, there is subsequently less tension on the edges of skin where they are sewn together. This leads to a finer, less visible scar.

Facelift patient - Dr. Baxter.

Hairline Incision

The third component to a less noticeable facelift scar involves the hairline behind the ear. This is really important for women who want to wear their hair short or back in a ponytail. As with men and the sideburns, you don’t want to displace the hairline. But, there must be some sort of incision, particularly if the surgeon needs to remove a lot of excess skin from the neck.

Dr. Baxter places the incision at the hairline. He sometimes even sneaks it a little behind the hairline, in such a way that the hair can actually grow through the scar. If the incision is done under minimal tension and placed just right, it can be camouflaged quite well.

Men vs. Women

“There are differences for men and women [when it comes to facelift scar concerns],” says Dr. Baxter. When a surgeon moves the skin back to remove excess skin and fix the neck on men, there will now be an area of the beard that is essentially behind the ear. While laser hair removal can permanently remove this hair, male patients need to be made aware that this will occur.

Facelift before and after - Dr. Baxter.

In women, the scars in front of the ear are typically placed behind the little bump in the front of the ear called the tragus. It’s easy for the surgeon to just wrap the incision around the edge. With men, this might bring the hair bearing area too far up so the incision may need to go in front of the ear.

Beware Minimal Scar Facelifts

While the short scar or minimal scar facelift may sound like a divine invention, buyer beware. “Be careful about what are called minimal incision facelifts or minimal scar facelifts” says Dr. Baxter. More often than not, the “minimal” scar in the front is the exact same as the one in a full facelift, but “you miss a lot of the benefits of doing the full facelift.” In the hands of a skilled surgeon who practices these trends, facelift scars today are not noticeable. And even if they were, “patients always say the scars are worth it.”

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