The Surgeon Minute

Say YES to a Facelift and NO to Going Under

Say YES to a Facelift and NO to Going Under

Facelifts are the gold standard in facial rejuvenation. Many people, however, shy away from having a facelift due to a mistaken perception that it must be done under general anesthetic or IV sedation. As a result, non-invasive or minimally-invasive plumping and tightening procedures are on the rise, while facelift surgery numbers are seeing a bit of a decline on a national level.  

At the Whole Beauty Institute in Chicago, Dr. John Q. Cook listened closely to his patient’s fears about undergoing general anesthesia and their desire for optimal facial rejuvenation. Over the past two decades he has developed a successful facelift technique allowing him to offer a full facelift under local anesthesia. Today, nearly 75% of the facelifts he does in his practice are done under this purely local technique.

There is No Such Thing as a Non-Surgical Facelift

Some surgeons today are touting the benefits of a liquid facelift or a so-called non-surgical facelift. However, according to Dr. Cook, “the non-surgical facelift does not exist. There still is nothing that works as well as a facelift.”  

While there are a wide variety of effective non-surgical rejuvenation options available – ranging from fillers, to Botox, to technologies that promise to tighten skin – none of them provide the reliable, long-lasting, natural results that can be achieved with a surgical facelift done by an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon.

In fact, Cook warns that overuse of non-surgical options like fillers can actually create problems for patients in the long run. “People begin to not look like themselves anymore,” says Cook. “Of course, the goal of anything in aesthetics should be to make a person look more like themselves rather than less like themselves.”

Problems with non-surgical facelift modalities.

Fear of Anesthesia is a Legitimate Fear

The majority of patients who undergo surgery experience a fear of anesthesia. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that patients have to abstain from food for an extended period before surgery. Patients feel both an overwhelming loss of control as they go under coupled with a fear of a difficult recovery after anesthesia.

Most people have either had personal experience or know of a family member or friend who has undergone general anesthesia or IV sedation, and then felt sick in the recovery period as a result. Vomiting, nausea, cold sensations, pain in the throat from a breathing tube, these are all common complaints after undergoing general anesthesia.

Possible Negative Side Effects of General Anesthesia:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling cold
  • Pain in the throat

“I think one of the things that often makes people feel pretty yucky after any sort of surgical procedure is not so much the surgery itself, but the anesthesia,” points out Dr. Cook. “A lot of people don’t like the blackout from anesthesia either. There’s a segment of their life that just kind of disappears, and that can sometimes even extend into the period after surgery.”

Facelift under local patient.

The Evolution of a Facelift Under Local

Twenty years ago, Dr. Cook began performing fat transfer under local anesthetic. His patients were thrilled with both the experience and the results. Next, he also began to offer blepharoplasties and little facial tuck procedures under local anesthesia. Again, his patients loved having the option to achieve great surgical results while avoiding the need for general anesthesia. Then it dawned on him: Why not do the whole thing? “Sometimes people say, ‘Well, are you having to cut things out?’ No!” assures Cook. “We do the exact same operation that I would do under a general anesthetic or an IV sedation.”

The idea of being fully awake as your face is undergoing surgery may sound foreign at first, but Dr. Cook assures his patients that satisfaction rates are through the roof. He credits much of the success of this technique to the fantastic team of people in his practice who do their best to make each patient feel comfortable and relaxed throughout the entire surgical process.

Facelift results - Dr. Cook.

Before entering the operating room the patient is given the local anesthetic as well as a little oral sedation. Once the procedure begins, some patients doze off on the operating table, while others choose to chat and interact as Dr. Cook performs the surgery.

There are now patients who Cook operated on fifteen years ago returning to him for a secondary facelift. These patients, who had their primary facelift done under general anesthesia, are instead opting for a local-only facelift this time around. Their response is unanimous: it was a better overall experience without general anesthesia.

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