A facelift can be life-altering, but it should never be face-altering. A successful facelift will leave you looking youthful, lifted and rejuvenated, but still like yourself. The best compliment that any plastic surgeon can receive from a facelift patient is that she went to a party and everyone thought that she looked fabulous, but couldn’t figure out exactly why. Had she changed her hair? Had she caught up on her sleep? Bottom line, good work should be undetectable.
Achieving this with a facelift requires the plastic surgeon to take a comprehensive approach. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kristi Hustak of Houston, TX likes to use the analogy of a bed; she discusses how she ensures that your bed frame, sheets, pillows and comforter are all coordinated and looking smooth as one.
What is a Natural Facelift?
The term natural gets thrown around a lot in articles about plastic surgery, as well as amongst surgeons and patients themselves. The term “natural” is somewhat subjective. One patient’s idea of natural may be another patient’s idea of Joan Rivers.
For Dr. Hustak, a natural facelift is one in which your face looks refreshed and more youthful, but still like you. “The name of the game these days with facelifts – or just any plastic surgery procedure – is that you want to look young, youthful, and rejuvenated, but you. You don’t want this to look operated on.” She wants her facelift patients’ friends and family to ask at social gatherings:
- what skincare are you using?
- are you getting a lot of rest?
- did you change your hair?
They ask these questions because they notice a positive change, but it is so well-done that surgery doesn’t even come to mind. “That is the ultimate compliment to a plastic surgeon,” explains Dr. Hustak.
Your Face is like a Bed!
While Dr. Hustak has a lot of tricks in her toolbox to stave off a facelift, at some point life will catch up. Some of the culprits to an aged face include:
- poor lifestyle choices like smoking
- the hot sun
One of the ways that Dr. Hustak can always tell that a patient has reached the tipping point into a facelift is when she comes into the office saying she wants to look like “this” and proceeds to pull the skin from her jaw back to her ears, or from the bottom of her neck up to her jaw. This is the universal sign that it is time for that patient to move past non-surgical modalities into a surgical facelift.
“I am a comprehensive facelift surgeon. I love to use the anatomy of the bed,” explains Dr. Hustak. You have your frame, which is the bony structure of the face. You have your mattress and your pillows, the soft tissue pockets, that change and drop with time. And finally you have your sheets and comforter, representing the skin. As beautiful as a mattress, frame, and pillows may be, it’s all lost if the sheets and comforter are a wreck.
Facelift: Bed Frame & Mattress
Dr. Hustak begins any facelift by addressing your underlying bony structures, the frame. If these are in good shape, she will leave them alone. Some patients may need some additional support in the form of a chin implant or a rhinoplasty to balance out the planes of the face.
A huge component of any facelift is harmony. Once this has been achieved, she will move on to the mattress. This part of the analogy would be the underlying muscles of the face. She needs to elevate your muscles so that they are lifted and tight without looking pulled. For Dr. Hustak, this is “the most important aspect of a facelift.” Well-done muscle tightening is not only unnoticeable, but this is what determines the longevity of your facelift.
Fat Grafting = the Pillows of Your Facelift
After she gets the muscles tight, Dr. Hustak moves on to fluffing up your “pillows.” With time, every face loses volume. How much is going to depend on your genetics, lifestyle choices, and age, but restoring this lost volume, particularly in the central part of the face, is a huge component of any facial rejuvenation procedure.
Dr. Hustak loves to do this with your own tissue if she can. Fat grafting is a procedure where she takes fat from somewhere in your body where you have too much and uses it to restore volume to the cheek pockets that have descended with time. This also helps to improve the look of your jowls as well as around your mouth.
Skin Tone & Texture is Crucial Component of a Facelift
Dr. Hustak’s goal with every facelift is to address all the parts of the “bed” at the same time. This includes your skin’s tone and texture, or the sheets and comforter. The following issues are common problems with someone in need of a facelift:
- fine lines & wrinkles
- uneven texture
- enlarged pores
- broken blood vessels
No matter how wonderful the work is underneath, these are the things people will see on the surface. As Dr. Hustak shares, “you are not going to look finished.”
This is why she will include a laser treatment as part of her facelift. The laser addresses the comforter, making certain that your skin looks fantastic.
Combining skin resurfacing and/or pigmentation devices with medical-grade skincare will contribute to a properly made bed for years to come, bringing the entire facelift procedure together to a final, beautifully whole product.