A defining procedure of plastic surgery, the image conjured of a facelift patient tends to be someone who’s on in their years. The procedure evokes thoughts of old skin, wrinkled and weathered over decades that needs to be removed and smoothed to reestablish more of a youthful appearance. Facelifts are not often associated with young patients.
That said, patients in their middling years see skin loosen and fall and begin to wonder, am I too young for the procedure? How young is too young for a facelift? Board certified plastic surgeons Dr. Craig Colville of Toledo, Ohio and Dr. Daniel Y. Maman of New York City discuss on the latest PSC Round Table.
The Average Age of a Facelift
A facelift procedure is designed for and centers around dealing with loose skin. Like an old rubber band stretched out, loose skin does not and will not ever spring back to where it used to be. The march of time creates a loosening skin blanket on the face, causing everything from deep wrinkles, jowling, and turkey necks. A facelift seeks to restore the tautness of facial skin by removing the extra via surgery.
For Drs. Colville and Maman, generally the average age of their facelift patients is 60. This tends to be the decade when non-surgical modalities have run out of answers and results; the skin is sufficiently loose so that only removal will affect positive change.
On the lower end of the spectrum, the surgeons concur that there may be some patients in their 40’s who might could benefit from the procedure, rather than relying on Botox, fillers, and non-surgical skin tightening devices.
“When we go to national meetings, or when I talk to colleagues such as Craig, you hear about operating on patients in their 40’s,” shares Dr. Maman. “I’ve certainly seen patients in my practice that are now in their 50’s and 60’s that had facelifts initially at a young age. In fact, last week I saw someone who was 42 when she had her first facelift.”
Don’t Look to Age, but to Signs of Wear
While the question asked was indeed seeking a quantitative answer to how young is too young, Dr. Colville stresses that age is not so important. “I wouldn’t get hooked on an age; it’s not that big a deal,” he shares. “It’s really, ‘What is the problem?'”
No matter the age, nor the procedure requested, only after personal assessment of a patient will a great surgeon be able to decide whether or not something is right for them. If a patient is seeking a facelift, Dr. Colville isn’t looking at their birthdate to decide on a course of action. He’s looking to the state of their aging face.
“If somebody came in and their skin was hanging off their jowls and they had neck skin and they were 32? It would be an interesting discussion and possible,” he admits. “But they have to have what’s necessary for a facelift. If they just want a little tightening, that’s not necessarily facelift.”
This is the method of experienced physicians who maintain patient safety as their #1 priority. Surgery is serious, and so is a facelift procedure. If a patient doesn’t require one, then performing a facelift is an unnecessary risk for little to no reward. For most people in their 30’s and 40’s, their facial skin just hasn’t been damaged by age enough to warrant a facelift. Those in between can certainly look to other non-surgical options for skin tightening, but they physically need to wait for a facelift.
“You can never say you’re 100% for sure in medicine, but, like Craig said, you have to assess the patient,” concludes Maman.