A facelift is an invasive cosmetic surgery procedure to reduce wrinkles and improve sagging skin around the eye, cheeks and jowls. Whilst some fine lines and mild sag may be alleviated with a non surgical face lift, heavier drooping and deeper wrinkles can only be repaired through face lift surgery.
Types of Face Lift
- Subcutaneous Face Lift
- Mask Lift (Subperiosteal Face Lift)
- SMAS Face Lift
- Deep Plane (Extended SMAS) Facelift
- Endoscopic Face Lift
Depending on which area of the face you wish to have improved and the type of incision, plastic surgeons can offer different facelifting techniques. Here are the main types of face lifts available:
Subcutaneous Face Lift
This is the original method used for lifting facial skin and is now rarely applied by surgeons. The best candidates for this surgery are those who have already had a prior facelift performed or older patients. The incision is made from the temples, running down in front of the ears and then back around behind the ears onto the scalp. The surgeon lifts and tightens the skin above and behind the ears. Excess skin is trimmed off and the incision is closed with stitches.
This method does not produce long lasting results (unlike other face lift techniques which also involved muscle tightening). Over time, the scars stretch after this type of lift, making them more visible and pulling down the ears.
Mask Lift (Subperiosteal Face Lift)
This is another type of lift which is slowly being phased out. It requires incisions in the scalp and mouth. It’s used to lift the forehead and mid face region. The surgeon lifts the deepest layers of the face together with the skin and the muscles. This type of lift greatly enhances the cheeks, laughter lines, eyes and nose-to-mouth lines (nasolabial folds). It’s best suited to younger patients. There is an increased risk of nerve injury, permanent loss of sensation in the scalp and hair loss. It doesn’t have much impact on the jowls or saggy neck line.
SMAS Face Lift
This type of facelift involves tightening the skin and the underlying muscle tissue, called the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS). This lift also tightens the upper neck. The incision is made in the same position as the subcutaneous lift (starting at the temple, continuing along the ear front, around the ear lobe and behind). Stitches are used to elevate the muscle tissue. Excess skin is then cut away and the wound closed with sutures. Whilst this face lift option provides longer lasting benefits and improves the neck line, there is a higher risk of damaging facial nerves than with the subcutaneous method. Also, the SMAS lift provides a more natural looking result.
Deep Plane (Extended SMAS) Facelift
The deep plane face lift is more invasive than the standard SMAS lift. The purpose of this method is to improve the cheeks and nasolabial folds and to provide a less of a stretched out appearance. During surgery, the SMAS is actually lifted away from the cheek ligaments before it is lifted and tightened. This lift lasts longer than other face lifting options. However, it’s also very delicate since it involves working very closely to the facial nerves and therefore greater risks are involved. Not all surgeons can perform this procedure.
Endoscopic Face Lift
Small incisions are made in the scalp. A tiny camera (endoscope) is inserted in one of the incisions. It’s used to guide the surgeon by providing visibility through a TV monitor. A cutting instrument is inserted into the other incision to cut beneath the bone lining. This avoids damaging the nerves and other structures. Whilst this method eliminates scarring, there are other risks involved including numbness and restriction of movement in some facial areas.