Today there are many options and alternatives to turn back the effects of time. The comprehensive surgical and non-surgical procedures aimed at facial rejuvenation include much more than just lifting the face. Understanding the procedure or combination of procedures that best fit your goals is the first step. Dr. Charles Messa, a board certified plastic surgeon practicing in South Florida calls his approach to facial rejuvenation “multi-dimensional.”
“There is not one single treatment to restore, reshape and refine a patient’s appearance,” explains Messa. “In fact, in order to deliver a more youthful look, we have to treat several factors simultaneously.”
Is that My Mother in the Mirror?
While aging, we notice the firm, smooth, tight character that once defined our face begin to slip away. According to Messa, all people age similarly—just not at the same chronological age. “We begin to lose soft tissue support and collagen which translates into looseness and laxity of the skin,” he says. “The change in underlying bone structure as we age creates volume loss in the eye socket, mid-face and jawline. The neckline is not as distinct as it used to be.”
The texture and condition of the skin itself, the loss of fullness, and the sagging of tissues must all be addressed to reclaim a naturally youthful appearance. When patients recognize their mother or father in their own mirror, it might be time for a consultation.
The Facial Rejuvenation Consultation
In consultation, expert surgeons listen to the changes the patient is considering and creates the best holistic treatment plan. You may want to improve only one feature, or you might be seeking a more dramatic change. Facial rejuvenation must be considered holistically even if only one feature bothers you.
It is a very personal decision, one that plastic surgeons like Messa will respectfully help you achieve. “I like to hear what bothers a patient the most and I will focus on that factor and educate them on the cause and effect.” Most times patients are very aware of what they don’t like, but have a misconception about the underlying root of the problem or the interrelationship of bones, muscles, skin and fat.
Many facial consults involve asking the patient to bring in photos taken 20-30 years earlier. “Patients are surprised to see themselves with a fuller, rounder face,” says Messa. “Then they understand why facial rejuvenation is so much more than pulling the skin tighter and resurfacing with a laser.”
The Sum of all Factors
According to Dr. Messa, if a surgeon takes the skin alone and pulled it up, it would not only look very unnatural but it would not last. “I like to introduce the concept of using a patient’s own fat to restore what they once had, ” he explains. “Fat grafting can be done simultaneously with a facelift procedure to fill in all the volume loss. There are several types of facelifts; it can be something simple like a short scar in front of the ear, or with a necklift with an incision behind the ear. We can also do a complete facelift of the forehead and the eyelids at the same time.”
A full facelift tightens both the skin and underlying tissues addressing prominent nasal labial folds and marionette lines, improving the appearance of the tear trough, reshaping a double chin, and smoothing out jowls and a sagging jawline.
The Road to Non-invasive or Invasive?
Since we all age at different rates and in different ways, there is no universal age for a facelift. Timing is, however, to catch the aging process before it begins to increase. Many non-surgical approaches are available for facial rejuvenation to get a head-start. Such non-surgical procedures include:
- Energy-based technologies can help improve mild skin laxity, tightening the skin
- Facial fillers restore lost volume
- Lasers improve skin texture and fine lines
If repositioning is the need, a facelift is still the only procedure that reliably lifts and tightens the face and neck, and corrects the neck bands. Once certain conditions are present, you cannot substitute fillers in place of a facelift.
Messa agrees with modern opinion that windblown facelifts are not rejuvenation, and therefore is careful to perform the procedures without excessive tension. Volume is then restored in the cheeks, nasolabial folds, and around the jawline to create a natural line between the jaw and the neck. The result is a youthful rejuvenation without noticeable operative changes. “Whether over-operated surgically or over-filled non-surgically, in the wrong hands, a patient can wind up looking older than they actually are.”
Meet with an Expert
The advantage to meeting with a board certified plastic surgeon aside from getting a holistic diagnosis, is that you can expect any available products, devices and techniques are vetted for efficacy. This alone can save pain, time, and money for the patient. The best solution to facial rejuvenation is this combination approach with a reputable surgeon, well versed in both surgical and non-surgical options.