How do you know when it’s time for a facelift? With the proliferation of non-surgical facial rejuvenation techniques, many patients are turning back the clock without surgery. However, there comes a point where the non-surgical modalities stop delivering the kinds of results that patients desire. This point is different for everyone.
It’s not about age necessarily, but about how your face is aging. If you are bothered by sagging skin in the neck, jowling, a heaviness in the brow, or the fact that you constantly look tired, these are signs that it may be time to consider a surgical intervention.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Craig Colville of Toledo, OH discusses his approach to facial surgery and why it is often the best rejuvenation choice.
What Bothers You About Your Face?
If you are not loving your reflection in the mirror, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon in your area. The best way to treat facial aging is unique to every patient – as is deciding whether or not it’s time for a facelift.
When meeting with a patient, Dr. Colville starts the consultation with a question: What bothers you about your face? Is it:
- extra skin in the neck
- a little bit of jowling
- loss of the jawline
- deepening folds
- that you look perpetually sad or tired
Based on a patient’s answers, Dr. Colville can ascertain whether the issues are best addressed surgically or non-surgically.
It’s Time for a Surgical Facelift
In general, when the aging issues on the face involve sagging skin, it’s time for a facelift. This may manifest as a:
- heavy brow
- low hairline
- jowling around the mouth
- excess skin folds in the neck
- sagging, tired look in lower face
The right time for a facelift really has nothing to do with being a certain age. It’s not like a patient hits 60 and suddenly a facelift is the answer. It depends on your individual anatomy and what bugs you specifically about your face.
Making the leap from non-facelift surgery such as an injectable, laser or skin tightening device to surgery is specific to each individual patient. Dr. Colville will generally steer a patient towards a surgical intervention when he or she has reached the point where non-surgical modalities are “not worthwhile.” If you have really loose skin, jowling, volume loss, or brow ptosis, for example, machines and injectables are probably not going to deliver your desired outcome. You’ll wind up spending a lot of money without a truly significant enough improvement. That’s when it’s time to consider a facelift.
When speaking about facial surgery and a facelift, “it’s usually the face and the neck,” explains Dr. Colville. The two areas work in tandem, so both need be addressed, all through an incision near the ear. The length of the incision is not nearly as important “as the quality of the result.” When doing facial surgery, the goal is to:
- restore the soft tissue to a more lifted, youthful position
- replace lost volume
- excise any loose, redundant skin
“An important part of facelift surgery is a meticulously placed scar,” says Dr. Colville. It must be perfectly positioned on the edge of the ear and may even go behind the ear where it’s hidden. Sometimes, the incision may even reach up into the hairline or sideburn, but “I don’t like to distort the sideburn or elevate the hairline.”
The surgical technique that Dr. Colville uses for his facelifts is not about lifting and pulling the skin tight. “It’s about re-positioning,” the soft tissues to a more youthful location. If the skin is pulled tight, you will not only look odd, but the scar is going to wind up being more visible and farther away from the ear.
Address Volume Loss
Another issue that people develop as they age is volume loss. This changes the shape of your face and is a contributing factor in drooping skin and tissues. Volume restoration with fat grafting, therefore, is a crucial component of all of Dr. Colville’s facelifts. He will typically perform this at the same time as your facial surgery. A small amount of fat is removed from an area where you have too much and placed into the face. Unlike synthetic fillers, there is no chance that your body will have an adverse reaction. Furthermore, the results from fat grafting are permanent.
Patients Want Results
Dr. Colville is not in the habit of telling a patient what he or she should have done. However, if a patient comes in to discuss injectables and he feels that this won’t “do it,” he will say so and bring up a facelift as an option. “Because what they are asking for is a result, not a particular procedure,” he shares. For him, it’s about recommending the right modalities to treat the patient’s issues. His goal is to develop a long term relationship with his patients. This only happens if he is straight up about what can and can not be achieved with any procedure.
Besides delivering exemplary results, the nice thing about a facelift is that these results last forever. “I think facelifts are turning back the clock,” explains Dr. Colville. For him, it is not about creating something that was never there. His patients always look like themselves, just a refreshed version of themselves. If facial surgery erases 10-15 years from your face, you will continue to age, but the treated areas will always look that much younger.
There has also never been a better time to have a facelift. “I think we’re getting the most natural results that we’ve ever had,” explains Dr. Colville. And that is why a facelift continues to be the gold standard of facial rejuvenation.