Have you looked in the mirror lately and felt that your face is looking more tired, droopy, or aged than you feel on the inside? You’re not alone. Many people reach a point, especially once passing that 40-year milestone, where they notice saggier skin, jowls, fine lines, and a generally duller, almost angry resting facial expression even if unwarranted!

While aging with grace and confidence should absolutely be celebrated, the emotional discomfort and self-consciousness that can stem from seeing an older-looking face staring back at you when you still feel young and vibrant is valid too. And in a culture obsessed with chasing youth, it’s no wonder more and more folks between their late 30s through 60s are opting to get a little nip and tuck via a facelift.

What is a Facelift?

A facelift, also known as a rhytidectomy, is a surgical cosmetic procedure that aims to address visible signs of aging in the face and neck such as:

  • Sagging skin or loss of definition along the jawline and cheeks
  • Excess skin and fat in the lower face and neck leading to jowls
  • Deep creases extending from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth
  • Loose skin creates bands or fullness beneath the chin

The procedure involves surgically tightening and lifting the deeper muscular layers and connective tissue ultimately responsible for sagging. By removing excess skin, and fat deposits, and tightening underlying supportive structures, plastic surgeons can create:

  • A firmer, more sculpted jawline
  • A more defined, contoured appearance in the neck and cheek area
  • Smoother skin and fewer wrinkles on upper, mid, and lower facial zones

The aim is to help patients look more refreshed, vibrant, and youthful. Facelifts don’t stop aging but can effectively “turn back the clock” for 5-10 years typically. They are customized to each patient’s unique aging issues and desired improvement goals.

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Types of Facelifts

Traditional Facelift

  • The traditional facelift is a surgical procedure that involves making incisions around the ear, temples, and hairline to lift and tighten facial and neck tissues. The surgeon repositions and removes excess skin, tightens underlying muscles, and redrapes the skin of the face and neck.
  • The benefits of a traditional facelift include dramatic and long-lasting results in smoothing wrinkles, tightening sagging skin, defining the jawline, and restoring a more youthful appearance. Considerations are that it requires general anesthesia, a hospital stay, and significant recovery time. There are also surgical risks like infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and skin loss.

Minimally Invasive Facelifts

  • Minimally invasive options like thread lift use thinner instruments and smaller incisions to lift facial tissues without removing the skin. Other options are mini face lifts done with shorter, less noticeable incisions.
  • Advantages of minimally invasive techniques include shorter recovery times, reduced scarring risk, and natural-looking improvements. Potential limitations are that results may not be as dramatic or long-lasting as a full facelift. There are also similar surgical risks of infection, bleeding, or nerve damage. More minor procedures may need to be repeated to maintain results over time.

Who Can Benefit from a Facelift?

The ideal candidates for facelift procedures are generally people who:

  • Are in good overall health without any wary medical conditions that could impair healing
  • Do not smoke
  • Have noticeable sagging skin, jowls, or loss of definition along the jawline and neck
  • Demonstrate early signs of aging like skin laxity and loss of elasticity
  • Are bothered by these visible signs of aging but have realistic expectations for improvement

There are several factors to carefully consider before opting for a surgical facelift:

  • It does require anesthesia and recovery time as well as financial investment
  • There are risks inherent in any surgical procedure
  • Maintaining realistic expectations about the possible degree of improvement is important

While a facelift can restore a more refreshed and youthful appearance. However, there are limitations to the changes in facial appearance which are achievable solely by tightening and redraping facial skin and tissues. The most successful facelift outcomes occur for patients who maintain realistic expectations regarding improvements to the jawline, loose neck skin, facial contours, and tone. Dramatic or unnaturally “wind tunnel” results are not realistic outcomes for competent plastic surgeons. Natural-looking rejuvenation with refinement rather than total transformation is the aim.


As we age, the effects of gravity, sun exposure, and stress can take a toll on our faces. Sagging skin, jowls, and loss of elasticity are common complaints. A facelift offers a surgical solution to refresh the facial appearance and provide a more rested, youthful look. While dramatic outcomes are not realistic, in the right candidate a facelift can contour sagging tissues, tighten loose skin, and restore faded definition along the jawline and neck.

Traditional facelifts and new minimally invasive techniques both have pros and cons when it comes to risks, recovery time, longevity of results, and potential for complications. Doing your research and consulting an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon is imperative to understanding your best options and setting proper expectations.

While certainly, not everyone requires cosmetic intervention to age gracefully, a facelift can be a rewarding procedure for men and women struggling with age-related facial changes they feel detract from their self-image. As with any cosmetic technique, maintenance should be there over the long term to sustain improvements. But in the hands of a skilled surgeon, face lifts offer the chance to refresh your look and restore confidence in your appearance.