A facelift, also called a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure performed to reduce visible signs of aging, such as skin laxity and facial creases. The procedure works by tightening the skin and underlying tissue that has lost its elasticity and firmness over the years. The result of a facelift can be a smoother and younger-looking appearance with less fine lines and skin sagging. Due to its ability to improve signs of aging at the deeper facial planes, a facelift can be more invasive than other types of facial rejuvenation; however, the outcome can also be much more dramatic. Many patients remark looking up to ten years younger after their procedure.

The facelift procedure may consist of various techniques, depending on the specific needs of each patient. Board-certified plastic surgeon Geoffrey Leber, MD carefully assesses each individual to determine the techniques that will best meet their needs. An initial consultation provides the patient with all necessary information about the surgery, including how to prepare for the procedure and what type of recovery to expect.

Key Facelift Terms to Know

During the consultation process, you will learn about every stage of facelift surgery and discover the best techniques to achieve your individual goals. Dr. Leber and our team know that patient education is a powerful tool to help you achieve the outcome and satisfaction you desire, so we encourage you to familiarize yourself with key terms that can allow you to become more informed about the procedure:

  • Jowls: Sagging skin, fat, and tissue that hang around the cheeks and jawline. Jowls can develop due to decreased collagen and elastin production, as well as aging, genetics, sun exposure, and other lifestyle factors.
  • Marionette lines: Deep creases that extend from the corners of the mouth to the jawline as a result of facial volume loss.
  • SMAS: Short for “Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System,” the SMAS is a layer of musculature that connects the muscles in the face and neck to the skin. When the SMAS loses elasticity, your face can sag and cause an older appearance.
  • Nasolabial folds: Facial creases that start at the nostrils and descend to the corners of the lips. Also called “smile lines,” these folds often deepen over time due to facial expressions like laughing and smiling.
  • Fat grafting: The transfer of fat cells from one region of the body to another. In terms of facial rejuvenation, fat grafting can restore depleted volume in the face for a softer, fuller, and more youthful look.

What Can a Facelift Accomplish?

A facelift should help patients regain their youthful appearance in a way that more accurately reflects their vitality and energy at any age. Facelifts can be used to address a number of cosmetic issues, including:

  • Sagging skin in the mid-face and along the jawline
  • Deep creases under the eyes, resulting in a chronically “tired” look
  • Marionette lines (creases running from the bottom of the nose to the corners of the mouth)
  • Loose skin and jowls around the jawline, sometimes giving the appearance of a double chin
  • Loose skin and deep creases in the neck

Patients undergoing a facelift should be in relatively good health with significant signs of aging. Those who show subtle signs of aging may want to consider less invasive cosmetic treatments—such as BOTOX® Cosmetic or JUVÉDERM® —to ward off the aging process.

Is a Facelift Right for Me?

Facelift surgery can be a transformative procedure for both men and women who believe they look older than they feel. A private consultation, wherein Dr. Leber will listen to your concerns and perform a facial analysis, can usually determine whether a facelift is an optimal treatment choice for each patient. The procedure is most successful for individuals who:

  • Show signs of aging in the mid- to lower face or neck
  • Have a positive outlook on surgery and are willing to undergo a recovery period
  • Exhibit realistic expectations for the potential outcome of surgery
  • Do not have any unmanaged medical conditions

In general, patients interested in a facelift should be relatively healthy and willing to quit smoking for a period of time before and after the procedure. Smoking can increase the risk of complications after surgery and greatly slow down the healing process. For this reason, patients planning to undergo a facelift should abstain until Dr. Leber advises otherwise. Since smoking is known to cause premature facial aging, quitting permanently can also help preserve your facelift results for as long as possible.

How is the Facelift Procedure Performed?

Facelift surgery is performed in a fully accredited, state-certified surgical suite under general anesthesia. However, some procedures may also allow for local anesthesia and sedation. The surgeon makes an incision in the area of the temple or the earlobe, depending on the specific areas of the face to be addressed during surgery. Incisions are carefully placed in the hairline or in natural folds of the skin to reduce scarring after surgery.

Deep Plane Facelift

A deep plane facelift stands out from other facelift techniques due to its approach of repositioning the tissues below the SMAS, or the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System. The SMAS is a layer of musculature that plays a key role in supporting the facial tissues.

Mini Facelift

A mini facelift is an abbreviated form of the full facelift procedure that usually only addresses the lower face and neck. This procedure can be an excellent choice for patients who only show mild to moderate signs of aging in the face, allowing noticeable rejuvenation with a relatively shorter recovery time. During a mini facelift, Dr. Leber focuses on lifting sagging tissues around the neck and jawline. This can give you a sleeker neck profile as well as a more contoured look in the jaw.

Natural Facelift

The youthful face has the shape of an inverted triangle with fuller cheeks and less volume in the lower face. However, as we age, the facial shape becomes more triangular, with less volume in the cheeks and more volume in the lower face and jowl region. Facial aging leads to a loss of volume, along with sagging of the skin and facial soft tissues. In addressing these concerns, overpulling of the skin or deep tissues during a facelift without adding volume to the deflated tissues often leads to an overly tight and unnatural appearance.

Dr. Leber replaces lost upper facial volume with fat transfer to the face. This restores facial volume, allowing a blending of the lid-cheek junction for a more youthful, less deflated look. Plus, stem cells in the fat graft may also benefit the overlying skin appearance. The lax and descended facial soft tissues are then elevated during his facelift procedure in an upward vertical direction (SMAS plication). This technique reduces the jowl, and helps reestablish the “inverted triangle” facial shape characteristic of youth. Additionally, the corner of the mouth is slightly elevated, reducing the appearance of an unhappy “bitterness fold” from the downward corner of the mouth. Lastly, the skin is gently redraped in a posterior and slightly oblique vector, avoiding the over-pulled aesthetic. Special attention is also given to closure and the earlobe appearance, along with careful realignment of the posterior hairline, all of which can lead to a more youthful and refreshed appearance.

During his fellowship in advanced aesthetic plastic surgery in Beverly Hills, California, Dr. Leber learned how to perform a natural facelift while avoiding the tell-tale signs of facelift surgery.*

*Obvious signs of facelift surgery:

  • Accentuation of the skeletal appearance from tightening the skin without adding volume
  • Overpulled eye, nose (flared nostrils), and mouth (fish mouth)
  • Unnatural facial lines from vertical skin elevation
  • Unnatural facial animation from overpulling the deep tissue layer (SMAS)
  • Patients often look quite good in photographs; however, when using their facial muscles while talking or smiling, these irregularities are revealed
  • Failure to recreate a natural earlobe, leading to a “pixie earlobe”
  • Distortion of the tragus, leading to an unnatural view of the ear canal
  • Step off of posterior hairline from unnatural vectors and failure to properly align hairline

What is Recovery From a Facelift Like?

Bandages are placed over the incisions after surgery. A narrow tube may also be placed behind the ear to remove excess fluid and prevent infection. Post-operative swelling may be managed by ice packs, while pain medication will be prescribed for the days immediately following the procedure. Some patients will be allowed to go home on the same day as their facelift surgery, while others may remain in the overnight stay facility monitored by nursing care. Most swelling and bruising subsides within the first two weeks, and patients are usually allowed to return to regular activities within two to three weeks.

How Long Do Facelift Results Last?

Results of facelift surgery may be seen right away, but will continue to improve in the following weeks as swelling subsides. It may take up to six weeks to see the full effect of your procedure. Results from a facelift are long-lasting, although skin will eventually begin to droop again as a normal part of the aging process. Patients can help prolong their results by avoiding sun damage and adhering to a healthy lifestyle. We advise all of our facelift patients to consult with one of our aestheticians to become educated on maintaining and restoring healthy skin.

What is the Best Age for a Facelift?

Whether a facelift can be a suitable treatment option depends less on the age of an individual and more on the visibility of wrinkles, loose skin, creases, and other indications for facelift surgery. Any patient who is in relatively good health and demonstrates moderate to severe signs of facial aging can be a candidate for the procedure. Depending on certain lifestyle factors as well as genetic predisposition, a patient in their thirties can exhibit signs that they would benefit from a facelift while someone nearing middle age may not experience the requisite cosmetic concerns. This can be the result of hereditary influences, an individual’s diet, one’s history of tobacco use or ultraviolet tanning, or a number of other factors. Ultimately, each person is evaluated on a patient-by-patient basis to determine whether a facelift is well-suited to achieve their aesthetic goals.

Will I Have Noticeable Facelift Scars?

To minimize the possibility of noticeable facelift scarring, Dr. Leber places incisions discreetly within the hairline and along the natural folds of the skin. These inconspicuous incision locations can typically camouflage scars after they heal, at which point most patients can experience some degree of pinkness or fading as time passes.

How Much Does a Facelift Cost?

The surgical fee for a facelift is approximately $7,600, according to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). However, this fee does not reflect a universal rate, as the price of cosmetic surgery generally varies by geographic location and by the experience of a plastic surgeon. The overall cost of a facelift will ultimately be determined by:

  • The extent of surgical work necessary
  • The surgical technique used
  • The complexity of the procedure

Therefore, a patient’s facelift expenses will depend on the details of their treatment plan. After a consultation with Dr. Leber, a personalized quote will be provided detailing the costs associated with facelift surgery. In addition to accepting major payment methods, our practice works with plastic surgery financing companies like CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending to make the price of a facelift more affordable. Once approved through the simple application process, patients can choose from a variety of low- to no-interest payment plans to select the option that suits their budgetary concerns most ideally. For more information about the cost of a facelift, please contact our practice today.

A facelift can be an effective way to dramatically turn back the clock on the skin. For more information about this surgical procedure, contact Dr. Geoffrey Leber and his staff to schedule your consultation.

What are the Limitations of a Facelift?

A facelift is designed to correct concerns that are concentrated solely in the lower face and neck. We understand that many individuals also exhibit signs of aging around the eyelids and brow, which is why patients have the option of adding upper facial plastic surgery procedures like eyelid surgery and/or a brow lift to their facelift treatment plan. The upper third of the face often experiences its own unique concerns caused by loose skin, and the aforementioned procedures can be utilized to address the aging indicators that facelift surgery cannot.

In general, eyelid surgery can benefit patients who want to enhance puffy lower eyelids, crow’s feet, or drooping upper eyelid skin. In some cases, lax skin in the upper eyelids can result in “hooding,” wherein the upper eyelids sag into one’s line of sight. Depending on your concerns, this procedure can treat the upper eyelids, lower eyelids, or both.

A brow lift may be recommended if you would like to smooth frown lines and/or rejuvenate a drooping brow, which are concerns that can both convey a stressed, tired, or angry appearance regardless of what you’re actually feeling. This procedure can refresh the brow area by restoring descended musculature to its original positioning and tightening the overlying skin with small, inconspicuous incisions. Dr. Leber can discuss your goals with you to help you decide the most optimal combination of procedures to achieve your desired outcome.

Can I Get a Non-Surgical Facelift?

A facelift is widely considered the most effective and powerful technique to restore a more youthful look in the face and neck. However, more limited forms of facial rejuvenation are also available at our Scottsdale practice, including minimally invasive skin tightening with ReFirme™ as well as volume enhancement with dermal fillers. These treatments can be utilized to improve loose skin and facial volume loss, respectively, without surgery or extensive downtime.

Made with elos™ technology, ReFirme™ uses dual radiofrequency and light energy to tighten skin in the cheeks, jowls, and under-eyes for noticeable results that should unfold over a period of time. This technology can also stimulate production of new collagen, often allowing rejuvenation to last long after your initial treatment. In restoring the round, youthful facial contours, fillers like Restylane® and JUVÉDERM® can be injected to smooth nasolabial folds and marionette lines while subtly augmenting flat facial features. These non-surgical cosmetic treatments may not provide permanent results, but they can be excellent options to gain temporary improvement in the face.

Facelift Alternatives

A facelift has the powerful ability to revitalize the face by addressing its underlying supportive structures. As a procedure frequently considered the “gold standard” of facial rejuvenation, there’s no other treatment option able to exactly mimic what a facelift can accomplish. That said, some patients may not need an entire facelift to achieve their overall goals. In some cases, a lower facelift or “mini facelift” may be enough to smooth jowls along the cheeks. This variation of a full facelift uses fewer incisions than a standard procedure and is typically most successful for individuals who have less sagging skin to address. Dr. Leber can evaluate your needs and recommend the best option based on your goals.

In other cases, displaced fat or a sunken look around the cheeks may predominate your concerns. Dr. Leber can replenish volume and fullness with fat transfer to the face, a method of repurposing your own natural fat for facial rejuvenation. Facial fat grafting can fill creases, improve nasolabial folds and marionette lines, and create a more attractive contour in the cheeks according to your goals. Dr. Leber often uses this technique at the same time as facelift surgery to achieve an outcome that appears even more youthful than rhytidectomy alone.

What are the Risks of Facelift Surgery?

Rhytidectomy comes with the same risks that exist in any other procedure: bleeding, infection, problems with the anesthesia, and fluid buildup are among the possible complications associated with surgery. A facelift in particular carries a unique risk of facial nerve concerns, asymmetry, unfavorable scarring, and numbness or changes in sensation. That said, complications stemming from a facelift are extremely rare when you’re under the care of a board-certified plastic surgeon. We encourage patients to research their plastic surgeon extensively to ensure they have been accredited by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and have ample experience performing a facelift. As one of the few plastic surgeons in the country who is board-certified and fellowship-trained in aesthetic techniques, Dr. Leber will fully explain the risks of a facelift in person so you can weigh them against the procedure’s potential benefits.

How to Choose a Top Facelift Surgeon

When it comes to your confidence, appearance, and safety, carefully selecting the right person to bring your aesthetic goals to fruition is paramount. You have many options to choose from, and our practice understands that trying to find the best facelift surgeon for your needs and goals can be daunting. While going through the research process, there are a few key tips to keep in mind.

The most important aspect of selecting a qualified plastic surgeon is to find a facelift provider who has extensive experience and training performing facelift surgery. This is critical because although many plastic surgeons offer facelift surgery, not all doctors perform the procedure on a regular basis and keep abreast of the latest techniques. To ensure your plastic surgeon is well-versed in modern approaches to a facelift, it would behoove you to:

  • Select a board-certified plastic surgeon who has ideally completed additional fellowship training in aesthetic surgery
  • Ask a prospective surgeon how many times per year they perform a facelift
  • Research a plastic surgeon’s educational background, training pedigree, and professional organizations and affiliations
  • Learn whether a plastic surgeon maintains hospital privileges in the Scottsdale region

A facelift surgeon’s before-and-after photos and online patient reviews can further reveal the types of results, as well as the quality of care, you can expect to receive when you visit their practice. As a board-certified plastic surgeon who has completed a highly competitive fellowship program in aesthetic surgery, Dr. Leber is prepared to answer all of your questions and concerns regarding a facelift or our other facial rejuvenation procedures.

Additional Breast Augmentation FAQs

Does a facelift differ for men versus women?

The general facelift procedure is the same for both men and women, but techniques may vary from patient to patient to help ensure a natural-looking result is attained. It is common for male and female patients to have different aesthetic ideals of beauty, which are distinctions that may be taken into account when Dr. Leber performs facelift surgery. With both male and female patients, care is taken to avoid an overly tight, obvious, or artificial look that may not endure for the long term. Dr. Leber will ultimately perform the procedure in a manner that allows a more youthful appearance, yet preserves the natural character of a patient’s face.

How long before I can exercise again after a facelift?

While Dr. Leber will provide you with personalized instructions regarding recovery restrictions, he generally recommends that patients avoid strenuous work, exercise, and heavy lifting for at least four weeks. This timeframe may vary based on your unique rate of healing, and Dr. Leber will monitor your progress in your post-operative follow-up visits.

Does insurance cover a facelift?

As an optional cosmetic procedure, facelift surgery isn’t usually covered by medical insurance. However, the financing plans from CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending can be very helpful for qualified patients who seek to better manage their facelift expenses. These reputable healthcare lending companies offer an array of low-interest and interest-free financing options during a given promotional period. For this reason, they are widely utilized for cosmetic treatments and procedures that are not applicable for insurance coverage.

How do I reduce swelling after facelift surgery?

Most swelling should resolve within two weeks of the facelift procedure, although some residual swelling can last as long as one year. To accelerate the healing process, Dr. Leber recommends sleeping/resting with the head elevated and propped up by pillows, using ice packs and pain medication as necessary, and avoiding an unhealthy diet during the recovery period.

Should I get a neck lift with my facelift?

The face and neck often age together, therefore many patients who opt for a facelift would also benefit from a neck lift as well. In most cases, Dr. Leber will address the neck at the same time as a facelift if a patient also shows signs of lax neck skin and/or musculature (an aesthetic sometimes referred to as a “turkey neck”). Your treatment plan will ultimately be created according to your needs and goals.

Dr. Leber and his team are here to help you achieve your aesthetic goals in a safe and caring environment. If you’re interested in scheduling a face lift procedure, reach us by phone at (480) 945-5522 or email us.