Some of the most significant changes I’ve seen during my career in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery are the development of nonsurgical facial rejuvenation procedures. They can produce some pretty remarkable, though temporary, results. Nevertheless, I tell patients considering a facelift at my Chicago practice that it remains the best option for creating a lasting, more youthful appearance that looks natural.
The techniques used at the outset of my career have evolved significantly over the years in my hands. My current technique (used for 20 years with continued improvements) emphasize the importance of lifting and repositioning the structures underlying the skin as opposed to simply stretching the skin. My facelift surgery produces results in which patients don’t look completely different, but instead look like more youthful versions of themselves. A good idea of what a patient will look like is a photograph from 10-15 years ago, although the elastic quality of the skin cannot be fully recaptured. I believe strongly that a deep plane facelift is the key to a natural result, because it avoids undue stretch on the skin, and truly repositions the sagging deeper tissues rather than merely dragging with stitches. Unfortunately, there are still many patients who have a “windswept” pulled or tight look which depends on the technique used. A deep plane facelift requires more technical precision.
In this blog post, I’ll briefly explain why today’s facelift techniques are more effective than before and why it’s important to research carefully before choosing a plastic surgeon.
Facial aging isn’t limited to a single area, but women and men are typically most concerned with the appearance of their mid to lower face and neck. Gravity’s pull on skin and tissue that’s lost its elasticity creates a sagging effect that many people find troublesome. Jowls and hollowed out cheeks, along with the sagging, banded look of the neck, can add years to our appearance. A facelift addresses these issues on the lower two-thirds of the face. It’s important to understand that it does not focus on the forehead, brows, or under the eyes.
Facelift Surgery Changes
Years ago, the goal of a facelift was to smooth wrinkles and lines by making an incision, removing excess skin, and then pulling tight the remaining skin before suturing. Advanced techniques now concentrate on the underlying layer of tissue and muscle called the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS). Some surgeons also use fat transfers to restore youthful volume to the face.
The SMAS facelift is a common technique, but I’m personally convinced that another approach—called the deep-plane facelift—can be the best way to achieve natural, long-lasting results. The keys to a completely natural result are to place minimal tension on the skin vs. pulling on the deeper tissues which have tethering points and limit their mobility. This approach also focuses on repositioning tissues rather than disguising aging changes with extensive volume changes. The deep-plane facelift requires a highly skilled plastic surgeon, and I’ve developed a unique deep-plane technique that was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Reduced Recovery Time
I’ve dedicated much of my career to researching and developing ways to minimize recovery times following plastic surgery procedures, including facelifts. One way to reduce recovery time is to limit the size of incisions, which leads to less swelling and bruising.
Some patients show less significant aging that’s limited to the neck or the midface area. In these cases, I may recommend a mini facelift, which uses a technique customized to address the individual’s specific aging changes in these areas and shortens recovery time even more.
You can see the types of results I achieve with my patients in our gallery of before-and-after photos. If you’re considering facial plastic surgery, you can contact us using the online form to request a consultation or call our office at (312) 788-2560 to schedule an appointment.