Types of Facelifts: Picking a Procedure That’s Right For You


As the body ages, you may gain weight in various parts of your body while the face loses volume and structural support. Combined with the loss of elasticity in your skin, wrinkles and lines start to form, making the skin tone uneven or tired-looking. According to Dr. Nazarian, as you age, you begin to lose three key things: Fat, Muscle, and Bone. As our faces begin to lose structure and bones gradually shrink, our skin isn’t held up in the same way.

Revolutionary cosmetic procedures like the V-Lyft facelift can help bring back the lost vibrancy and restore your skin to its former state by lifting loose facial skin and tightening lax muscles, among other techniques. Dr. Nazarian performs V-Lyft facelifts with an included fat transfer – the result is an added boost of volume that mitigates the overly tightened look from a lot of facelifts. Here’s a video of Dr. Nazarian explaining this procedure:

Though the V-Lyft facelift is a comprehensive option, it is crucial to select the right procedure from all the types of facelifts available when deciding on the right facelift for your purposes. Whether to get a skin-only lift or deep plane facelift to reposition the muscle layers underneath the surface depends entirely on your own facial characteristics and personal goals. Comparing facelifts and learning about various facelift options can help.

Facelift Surgery: What Is It?

A facelift is a surgical technique designed to improve visible signs of aging by helping lift sagging skin on the neck and face. Also called rhytidectomy, lower facelift, or neck lift, a facelift surgery can help smoothen out wrinkles and folds, tighten the facial tissues, remove excess skin, or transfer fat to lips and other areas to make the face more supple. Some procedures also work on the underlying muscle tissue to craft a more rejuvenated and youthful look.

While most facelift options include the lower two-thirds of the face, a composite facelift is a complete facial rejuvenation procedure that involves fat repositioning beneath the eyes and sometimes a brow lift. Cosmetic surgeons recommend different types of facelifts based on the patient’s individual needs and facial structure.

A Brief History of Facelifts

The first recorded surgical facelift was said to be performed in 1901 by Eugene von Hollander from Berlin. The aesthetic procedure involved removing elliptical pieces of skin near the natural hairline and ears of the patient. Although the skin was tightened, there was no lift near the mouth area.

During the early 1900s, a variety of facelifts emerged, from skin grafting techniques to subcutaneous dissections and fat excisions. It is after World War I that the procedure saw innovations, where facelifts were the norm to treat wounded soldiers.

In the 1970s, facial tissue repositioning or the SMAS technique became a popular method for skin refinement, which is a part of the deep plane facelift procedure. In the 1990s, the focus shifted to improving the lost facial volume with minimal scarring methods that evolved into modern-day facelifts.

FDA Approval and Other Certification for Facelifts

Several of these cosmetic procedures and the devices utilized are FDA-approved, meaning they are tested and reviewed by experts and deemed as safe for consumers. These include non-surgical facelift procedures like FaceTite and Restylane Lyft.

However, not every cosmetic technique needs FDA approval – plastic surgeons can offer such specialized procedures if they have enough experience treating their patients successfully. Facelifts are only to be legally performed by trained plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Why Get a Facelift?

Over the years, several factors can cause your skin to sustain signs of aging. Most common aging factors include:

  • Gravity
  • Sun Exposure
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Exposure to pollution
  • Tobacco and/or drug use
  • Diet

The underlying tissue and muscles loosen naturally over time, leading to displaced facial fat, jowls, deep wrinkles, and creases near the corners of the mouth. You may notice the development of unsightly facial features like sagging of the cheeks, deep wrinkles, jowls, loose skin, and vertical cord-like lines on the neck.

For these reasons, you may feel self-conscious about your appearance – this sense of low self-esteem can negatively affect your personal and professional life in a variety of ways. With the right kind of facelift, your face, neck and skin can look more vibrant and well-rested, you’ll feel more confident, and can stop hiding your neck behind turtlenecks and scarves.

Per reports, it is possible to achieve a 12-year apparent age reduction after a facelift. Facelifts can also get rid of problems like a double chin or turkey neck. Although these positive changes are certainly possible with a qualified and reputable plastic surgeon, it’s important to understand that not all facelifts will give the exact results that a patient desires. This is why it’s important to consult with your plastic surgeon before your procedure to get a better idea of the realistic possibilities for your own circumstances.

Upper-Face, Lower-Face, and Mid-Face Lifts: What’s the Difference?

Board-certified plastic surgeons are able to provide customized facelift options for their patients. You need a virtual or in-person consultation first. But without comparing facelifts, it can be challenging for you to know which technique works best for you. There are three primary types of facelift procedures:

Upper-Face Lift

This technique involves the forehead and brow line – typically, an upper-face lift will involve facial features above the eyes. With an upper-face lift, your face appears more youthful and alert.

You can reverse or modify physical characteristics such as:

  • Brow creases
  • Deep scowl look
  • Droopy upper eyelids

Types Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For YouTypes Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For You

Mid-Face Lift

The central areas of the face, such as the cheeks and upper lip can benefit from a mid-face lift. With proper skin care, these results can last a lifetime.

It reduces the adverse effects like:

  • Sun damage
  • Dynamic Wrinkles
  • Under-eye bags or dark streaks
  • Sunken cheeks

Types Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For You Types Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For You

Lower-Face Lift

It is a procedure targeting the lower parts of the face, like the lips, chin, jawline, and neck. With a lower-face lift, you can improve your profile and get a more defined appearance.

A lower-face lift can eliminate:

  • Nasolabial folds or laugh lines
  • Jowls
  • Sagging skin on the neck or jawline

Types Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For You Types Of Facelifts: Picking A Procedure That’s Right For You

How to Know If You Are The Right Candidate for a Facelift Procedure?

Good facelift candidates are those that:

  1. Feel their aging symptoms hinder their career growth or become an obstacle in their personal lives
  2. Are healthy individuals without severe medical conditions that delay recovery or wound healing
  3. Don’t smoke or combat substance abuse disorders
  4. Want to express their energy levels and make their skin reflect their youthfulness

It is essential to set realistic expectations of the results from various types of facelifts. One of the wrong assumptions is that you can create a new version of yourself or alter your facial bone structure. All reconstructive facelift options have the potential to make you look years younger, but you should not expect a facelift procedure to take you back in time and recreate the exact facial characteristics of your late teens and early twenties, nor will a facelift transform you to look like your favorite celebrity. Your plastic surgeon will explain the most realistic outcome of your procedure during your preliminary consultation.

What Is the Best Age For a Facelift?

When you think of someone opting for a facelift, you may imagine a middle aged or an older patient. But, there is no age limit to go in for the procedure. You may detect the emergence of crow’s feet or diminishing skin elasticity in your late twenties. Ultimately, your aesthetic goals, health condition, and the amount of correction needed will determine if you are ideal for facelift surgery. There is no particular “best age” to undergo a facelift.

Generally, people between the ages of 35-50 are the most common demographic to undergo different types of facelifts. Though this demographic is historically the most popular, facelifts are becoming far more common for those aged 50+ as well.

However, as with any medical procedure, facelifts also may hold added risk if you wait too long. Besides, the results of a facelift are long-lasting, for up to 7-10 years. Hence, undergoing surgery during the earlier phases can help you retain your youth instead of trying to recapture it. Your facial cosmetic surgeon can give you a secondary “refresher” facelift after the first procedure’s effects start to fade in order to eliminate permanent lines and creases.

How Is a Facelift Procedure Performed?

For surgical facelifts, the administered sedative depends on an individual’s choice – it can be either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. If you choose general anesthesia, your surgeon will put you in a controlled level of unconsciousness. IV sedation is also called conscious sedation or Twilight anesthesia, which is sufficient for most eye procedures, brow lifts, lower-face lifts, and neck lifts. With this form of medication, you will not feel tired after the procedure. Typically, for people with specific medical conditions and/or chronic back and neck pain, general anesthesia is the most ideal option.

Based on your facial anatomy and the desired effects, your cosmetic surgeon will identify the best facelift technique for you. Traditional facelift methods involve full-face sculpting or fat redistribution using. An incision is made near the temples and runs around the ear towards the lower scalp. In contrast, shorter incisions are made for a mini-lift when there is less skin sagging. A similar cut is used to reposition the under-the-chin fat in a neck lift. This kind of cosmetic facelift incision is useful as a minimally-invasive approach to open neck dissection.

After the skin is pulled back and tightened, your plastic surgeon will close the incisions with sutures. Your face will typically be wrapped in bandages to prevent infection and the urge to “feel” the results prematurely. There may also be surgical drainage.

Facelift procedures can also be combined with resurfacing techniques like ContourTRL, microlaser peel, or profractional at the same time as surgery.

Facelift Aftercare

The facelift recovery period typically lasts for around ten days, but you must still take precautions after the initial recovery period. It’s suggested that you can partake in vigorous physical activities after four weeks. Your face may be in wraps for 24 hours after the procedure to obtain the most satisfactory results.

In your follow-up appointment, (typically scheduled for a week after the procedure) the plastic surgeon will remove the stitches. Some patients may prefer dissolvable sutures or skin glues that get absorbed into the body, as they’re more convenient for recovery and can prevent scarring from suture removal.

There may be bruising and swelling during the first few days, and because of these symptoms, it’s crucial to get the right post-operative care. Having a family member, spouse, or friend assist you during this recovery time can keep the negative post-surgery effects to a minimum. Follow your doctor’s specific recovery guidelines, like placing ice packs over the operated area. While sleeping, make sure to keep the back of your head on a pillow instead of leaning on your face.

When Can You See the Results?

After the initial swelling subsides, you can notice visible improvements. Within two weeks you’ll be able to show off your facial transformation. The length of the healing period can fluctuate, and generally depends on factors like the type of facelift, a patient’s age, genetics, and existence of underlying medical conditions.

No matter which types of facelifts patients choose, scars are virtually invisible after healing. The incision lines remain hidden within the hairline or contours of the ear and are designed to heal and appear like natural wrinkles.

Comparing Types of Facelifts: Can You Get a Facelift Without Surgery?

When researching to find the best facelift procedure, you may have come across techniques that involve surgery, and others that do not. It’s important to understand that not every facelift is invasive. You can choose a facelift without surgery to reduce frown wrinkles and improve the skin texture and smoothness with minimal recovery time post-procedure.

Non-surgical facelifts are cost-effective and can achieve natural-looking results. They are ideal for patients that are either not ready for a surgical procedure, are unable to afford it, or are unable to fit the procedure and appropriate recovery time into their schedules.

Here are some common non-surgical facelift techniques:

  • Ultherapy: Ultrasound heats the targeted skin tissue, triggering a boost in collagen production. It is an effective technique to counteract the symptoms of gravity.
  • Laser Skin Resurfacing: Acne scars, blotches, pigmentation, etc., can vanish with laser skin resurfacing, which takes around two hours. The skin dries out and peels within a week and completely heals after two-three weeks.
  • Microdermabrasion: The skin surface is exfoliated to remove age spots, stretch marks, fine lines, enlarged pores, and hyperpigmentation. It is one of the safest treatments for all skin types.
  • Dermal Fillers: Dermal fillers are smooth-gel injectables that add volume to the smooth tissue of your face, in areas like the lips and cheeks. You get a plump and wrinkle-free appearance that can last for an entire year.
  • Botox: Botox works well on dynamic wrinkles caused due to repetitive expressions. For instance, crow’s feet, frown lines, and forehead creases visibly reduce with this non-surgical facelift technique.
  • Thread Lift: Among the non-surgical types of facelift procedures, thread lifts offer almost instant results. A cosmetic surgeon makes tiny incisions in the targeted area using thin biodegradable threads. The skin gets pulled back and lifted while the body absorbs the threads.

Selecting the Right Facelift Technique

All facelift options can be classified into either full-facelifts or mini-lifts. While there is no single solution that is right for each patient, you can combine two or procedures to reach your goals.

Subcutaneous Lift

A temporal brow lift is an alternative to a comprehensive brow lift and less invasive. Smaller incisions are made diagonally near the hairline, and skin gets tightened and pulled outward toward the temples. It removes small wrinkles and creases and offers quicker recovery.

Liquid Facelift

This non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedure promotes skin elasticity and can improve facial volume and vibrancy. A serum such as Restylane or Juvederm containing hyaluronic acid is injected into the identified areas to fill in wrinkles or hollowed out skin and reintroduce a youthful volume.

Deep Plane Facelift

Also called a composite facelift or SMAS facelift, a deep plane lift eliminates wrinkles by strengthening the layer beneath the SMAS or musculoaponeurotic system. This SMAS facelift targets the chin and neck areas to improve the skin near the muscles associated with smiling and frowning. The anatomic structure of the face gets manipulated to change facial appearance.


A S-Lift facelift involves an incision in the shape of “S” around the jawline to separate the skin and muscle tissue. During this procedure, muscles are contoured, and excess fat cells are removed to achieve tighter, more wrinkle-free skin.

Lip Lift

A lip lift technique adds more volume to the lips and makes them fuller. By decreasing the gap between the nose and the upper lip, you can add more lip volume/height. The incision is made below the two nostrils or above the corners of the mouth to create a more smiley look.

Skin-Only Lift

This procedure is aimed at the superficial skin in the lower part of the face. Because it is less invasive, the recuperation period is faster than subcutaneous facelifts. A skin-only lift can address the loss of elasticity, jowls, sunken cheeks, and excess fat issues while remaining minimally invasive.

Neck Lift

A neck lift or neck dissection resolves extra fatty tissue and sagging skin in the neck area and under the chin. A neck lift can eliminate a turkey neck and counteracts the effects of sudden weight loss. It can also reduce the appearance of neck lines and reduce the prominence of a double chin.

How Much Do Surgical Facelifts Cost?

Depending on the facelift options you choose, the cost of a surgical procedure may range between $7,500 and $65,000. For traditional techniques, the price may increase based on whether you have anesthesia, the cosmetic surgeon’s experience, operating facility, medications, etc. For mini-lifts, the cost and recovery period will be much lower.

What is the Cost of a Non-Surgical Facelift?

Fillers and injection serums may cost from $950 to $3,500, depending on your choice, follow-up, and the number of visits. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels cost upwards of $850-1200, while laser skin resurfacing costs between $2,000 to $10,000. These prices can change with location and the experience of the person performing the treatment.

Choose the Right Cosmetic Surgeon for Your Facelift

When you go for a facelift, you have a lot at stake. It’s your face! Simply visiting an experienced plastic surgeon is not enough. Find out if they are board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in all types of facelifts. Nazarian Plastic Surgery has a qualified team of professionals you can count on, under the leadership of Sheila Nazarian, MD.

Contact Us Today

Speak to our experts and read about our financing options and determine how your healthcare plan can help to cover the cost. Contact us today via phone or email today to schedule a consultation at our clinic.

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