A facelift procedure for Chicago patients is an investment in yourself — in confidence, in your appearance, and often more intangible improvements to your quality of life. Patients want results to be as effective, natural-looking, and long-lasting as possible. That’s why one of the first questions many of them ask is, “How long will my results last?” I have performed over 200 facelifts on patients who had a previous facelift performed by me, and on average, patients are returning 10-12 years after that first procedure. However, there are many factors that make each patient different.
While it sounds like it would be easy to give a succinct answer to this question, there really isn’t one. A combination of variables unique to each patient, from genetics to your choice of surgeon, will have an effect on the longevity of your results. I’ve summarized the most significant influences here, but keep in mind that it is important for patients to discuss their individual results and expectations with their surgeon during a consultation.
1. The skill, specialty, and experience level of your surgeon
Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in facial plastic surgery is the most important thing you can do to ensuring quality, lasting results. You can determine a surgeon’s specialization by examining featured procedures on the practice’s website, the number and quality of before-and-after photographs, the blog posts the surgeon has drafted, the scholarly articles he has written, the lectures he has given, and of course, the surgeon’s training and education.
For more on this point, I’ve written previous blog posts discussing what to look for in a plastic surgeon, including “Under Review: Evaluating a Plastic Surgeon Online” and “3 Tips for Judging Facelift Results.” I encourage you to review those if you are currently in this phase of your research.
Additionally, the advanced techniques offered by the surgeon are also important to consider. For example, my approach involves elevating deep layer SMAS muscles and skin as a unit, which reduces any unnatural stretching of the skin. I often combine both a face and neck lift, as well, because my research has shown that these two areas age as a unit, not individually. The overlying skin should not be pulled tighter than the deeper tissues, as this can result in an unnatural tightness or uneven tension.
2. The enhancement provided by complementary procedures
There are a few complementary treatments that can help enhance the results of a facelift and maintain a rejuvenated appearance after surgery. These include BOTOX® Cosmetic, which prohibits contractions of the muscles that cause wrinkles; fat transfer or hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers which add and restore volume to features like the cheeks; and laser and chemical peel treatments, which restore skin tone, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and even tighten skin.
It’s important to note that fine wrinkling of the skin (e.g., crow’s feet) is best addressed by superficial skin tightening rather than surgery.
3. Your genetics and how you age naturally
There’s no way around it: The skin ages at different rates in different patients depending on genetics, age, and more. Loss of elasticity is inevitable over time. In fact, there will always be some relaxation of the tissues over the first few months after surgery, and the amount of relaxation in each patient varies because of all the above factors. Unfortunately, among the many changes of aging, loss of skin elasticity is progressive over time and the skin continues to thin with age.
In general, patients with thinner skin and less collagen present beneath their skin will experience greater stretching of their skin after the procedure. Comparatively, patients with more collagen will in turn have greater elasticity and less stretching.
4. Your commitment to good skin care habits (anti-aging products, sunblock, nutrition)
External factors such as sun damage can also affect results. Patients should keep their face protected from UV rays by wearing sunscreen daily and covering up with hats and sunglasses. Sun exposure encourages the development of sun spots, pigmentation issues, and fine lines. Plus, it can be extra damaging to scars as they heal.
Additionally, proper use of quality skin care products can ensure a bright, even tone and healthy, hydrated skin, which also enhance facelift results.
Beyond your skin care regimen, a patient’s nutrition and fluctuations in weight can also impact how the skin heals and ages. Maintaining a balanced diet and healthy, active lifestyle are just a few more ways to ensure facelift results last for many years. Nonsmokers also see results that last longer than smokers.
5. When to consider a second procedure
As with many plastic surgery procedures, a patient may elect to have a follow-up procedure many years in the future.
In my experience, some patients return for a second facelift between 8 and 15 years after their original facelift, with an overall average of 10-12 years. However, approximately 5% of my patients (all in an older age group) have enough laxity at the time of surgery that the inevitable partial relaxation that occurs in the first 6 months allows them to benefit from an early second facelift. You can read more about the early second facelift in this journal article.
During your consultation, we’ll be able to discuss these factors together, to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo a facelift. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit my before-and-after gallery to see some of the results I’ve provided patients.