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Surgical vs. Nonsurgical Facelift: Which is Better?

Each individual ages differently, but many patients often complain that loose skin, deep folds and a loss of facial volume make them look older than they feel. If this describes you, a facelift can drastically reduce the signs of aging and restore the supple, smooth skin and pleasing contours you had when you were younger. The definition of the facelift has evolved over the years, along with the surgical techniques used by doctors and surgeons. At The Maas Clinic in San Francisco, California, patients now have a variety of surgical and nonsurgical options available to restore the contours of the face and rejuvenate your appearance. Dr. Corey Maas understands that a facelift is a big decision and wants to educate patients on the available surgical and nonsurgical procedures to help you decide which treatment will best meet your aesthetic goals.

Nonsurgical Facelifts

Nonsurgical facelifts describe a collection of minimally-invasive treatment options designed to address some of the signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles and skin laxity. While these treatments can’t do what a facelift does, they may provide patients with sufficient improvements to rejuvenate the face without surgery.

Dermal Fillers or “Liquid Facelifts”

A “liquid facelift” is not actually a facelift at all but is instead the plumping and volumizing of facial features through the use of injectable dermal fillers such as Juvederm or Restylane. These fillers contain hyaluronic acid, a naturally-occurring substance that can restore youthful features by reducing wrinkles and plumping up the face. Although a traditional facelift is the gold standard for improving facial contours, fillers can be effective at restoring lost volume for a rejuvenated appearance. Dermal fillers have limitations, however, and are best suited for patients with mild signs of aging and little to no sagging of the facial tissues. Fillers are a long lasting but temporary solution for addressing signs of aging in the face. Depending on the type of filler used, results can last from six months to two years and require maintenance or touch-up treatments to sustain long-term improvements.

In many cases, it isn’t volume loss that contributes to signs of aging, but rather sagging skin and tissue depletion that creates a weary, tired appearance. When this is the case, a facelift procedure is more appropriate for many patients to restore a youthful, rejuvenated appearance.

Silhouette Lift

A Silhouette Lift is a minimally-invasive procedure ideal for patients who want more dramatic results than dermal fillers can provide, but aren’t ready to commit to a full facelift or other traditional surgical techniques. As we age, collagen becomes depleted and we experience fat loss which makes the skin and facial tissues less resistant to gravity, allowing a downward migration that produces sagging, weary-looking features. A Silhouette Lift addresses sagging skin due to this loss of collagen and subcutaneous fat, both of which support the skin and facial tissues for a supple, youthful appearance. This procedure involves placing biocompatible, dissolving sutures with cones beneath the skin to reposition and lift facial tissues. The threads provide lift and volume, and the cones act as anchors to keep the sutures in place. The Silhouette Lift also provides the added benefit of gradually stimulating collagen to add even more volume. Although this procedure can be a great option for those who want a modest amount of lift without committing to surgery, the Silhouette Lift isn’t a replacement for a traditional facelift and can’t replicate the dramatic, enduring results of surgical techniques. The improvements provided by a Silhouette Lift are long lasting but not permanent; patients can expect to enjoy the results from a Silhouette Lift for one to two years.

Surgical Facelifts

While nonsurgical rejuvenating solutions can produce viable results, patients shouldn’t settle for procedures that only temporarily treat some of their concerns. Surgical techniques such as facelifts have evolved significantly over the decades and produce consistent, natural-looking results with little downtime and fewer complications.

Facelifts can be confusing for many patients because the term “facelift” is a bit of a misnomer. Traditional definitions can be misleading and aren’t sufficient in describing the procedure or its benefits. At The Maas Clinic, we have developed a terminology that more accurately describes the facelift, dividing the procedure into three distinct categories depending on which area of the face it addresses.

The Mini-Facelift

The mini-facelift was developed in response to the ever-changing, fast-paced lifestyle of many patients wanting a procedure that doesn’t interfere with their daily routine. Although this procedure is less invasive than other techniques, proprietary terms and catchy names such as the QuickLift can be misleading — no facelift should be “quick,” as it is a procedure that requires skill and precision to produce predictable, beautiful-looking results that last.

A mini-facelift is used when a full facelift is unnecessary to achieve the results a client desires. A mini-facelift is used to address areas above the jawline up to the temple area and can improve the appearance of the cheeks, nasolabial folds and marionette lines. A mini-facelift is ideal for younger patients that have experienced some localized, accelerated aging and need a lift in just these areas, or for older patients that need a touch up after a previous facelift procedure.

The Mid Facelift

The mid facelift is a surgical option for restoring volume loss in the cheek area due to sagging tissues and a decrease in underlying fat. A mid facelift elevates and restores tissue in the cheek pads to raise them and create a more youthful-looking facial contour. This procedure adds fullness to facial tissues without the use of fillers to provide long-lasting rejuvenation. Ideal patients will have enough existing volume in the soft tissues of the face, but require a repositioning of the underlying structure to recapture a youthful profile.

The Neck Lift

The goal of a neck lift is to minimize loose skin, reduce the appearance of platysmal bands and remove excess fat underneath the chin. Depending on your desired results, this procedure may involve an elegant combination of liposuction, platysmaplasty and subplatysmal flap elevation to restore a pleasing neckline and youthful contours. A neck lift may be performed on its own or combined with other procedures such as a mini facelift or a brow lift to produce balanced results. When a neck lift is done in conjunction with a mini facelift, that is called a lower facelift, which encompasses the cheek area and down to the neck, including the jawline. Dr. Maas performs lower facelifts using a refined SMASplasty technique to address the signs of aging without producing an overstretched or windswept appearance. The results are natural looking, beautiful and long-lasting.

Which Procedure is Right for Me?

A surgical facelift provides patients with the most noticeable and enduring improvements when addressing the signs of aging in the face such as loose, sagging skin and lost volume. Although nonsurgical face lifting treatments can’t replicate these results, they can provide subtle outcomes for patients who want to avoid surgery or only require a modest amount of lift. Dr. Maas can discuss the available options with your during a consultation, but in general, a good candidate for a surgical facelift is a patient who:

  • Has tried nonsurgical treatments with little to no success
  • Experiences volume loss due to fallen or sinking facial tissues
  • Has deep folds and jowling that can’t be addressed without surgery
  • Has excess or loose skin around the face and neck
  • Is healthy enough for surgery
  • Has sufficient time for a recovery of 10 to 14 days
  • Believes the appearance of their face doesn’t match how they feel inside
  • Wants to improve facial contours and desires long-term results

Nonsurgical face lifting treatments may be ideal for patients who:

  • Experience only minimal signs of aging
  • Are wary of surgical procedures
  • Surgical options are restricted due to cost, time, health or other factors
  • Have sufficient facial volume but are unhappy with the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles
  • Want temporary results and can commit to recurrent treatments

At The Maas Clinic, we believe the goal isn’t to completely transform you but to restore a more youthful version of yourself by producing natural-looking results that enhance your appearance. Dr. Maas’ legacy of highly-satisfied patients with excellent results throughout the years has earned a reputation as one of the best facelift surgeons not only in San Francisco but internationally as well. If you’re interested in learning more about your options for reducing the signs of aging in your face and turning back the clock, we can help you explore the different treatments available. Contact or call The Maas Clinic today at 415-567-7000 to schedule a consultation and start looking your best.

It is never too late, To be what you might have been.- George Eliot