It’s not your age that determines whether you are ready for a facelift — it’s how you look and how you feel about the visible signs of facial aging.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but it may seem like the first visible signs of aging have appeared suddenly. Often it’s the repeated comments of friends or loved ones that you look “tired” which causes you to take a closer look at your face. That’s when you may notice the subtle beginnings of jowls, a deepening of the lines that run from the corners of your nose to the corners of your mouth, and loose skin or excess fatty tissue in your neck. Or perhaps it’s the middle third of your face that has changed — the “highlight” areas of the cheekbones are often the first facial areas to show wrinkling and sagging, and this can contribute to a sad or tired look.
Not everyone is disturbed by these first signs of facial aging, or they may not be sufficiently bothered to do something about it right away. Increasingly, though, both women and men are choosing cosmetic surgery at an earlier age to help them keep looking as vital and energetic as they feel.
Psychological research has shown that people who undergo a facelift are generally those who have a high regard for other aspects of their physical maintenance. For these individuals, having a facelift is one more way in which they can take control of their life and improve their appearance. Whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, looking your best can give you a big psychological boost.
The right time for you to have your facelift depends on a variety of factors. The first consideration is whether you really need a lift. If you are primarily bothered by fine wrinkling and sun damage, and you have no facial sagging or excess fat in your neck, then chances are that skin resurfacing with a laser or chemical peel, rather than having a facelift, may be the answer for you.
If your main problem is excess fat under your chin, but your skin is still tight and elastic, you may be a good candidate for lipoplasty (liposuction) in this area. Lipoplasty to eliminate a double chin usually requires only a small incision on the underside of the chin where it will be barely visible with your head tilted back.
What about sagging brows, or excess skin and fatty deposits in the upper and lower eyelids? Your plastic surgeon may recommend a brow lift, eyelid surgery or both to correct these problems. If you also have sagging in the middle or lower portions of your face, then these procedures can be combined with a facelift to create harmony among all your facial features.
In evaluating you for a facelift, the thickness, texture and elasticity of your skin, and the severity of wrinkles and folds, will be important considerations. Your hairline will be examined to determine where incisions can be discreetly placed. These factors, as well as your bone structure and underlying tissues, all go into developing an appropriate surgical plan.
Because of these individual factors, not everyone achieves the same results from a facelift. One of the reasons why facelifts performed at a younger age often achieve the best results is that the facial tissues are in better condition. As we age, our skin becomes less elastic and more prone to stretching and sagging. The individual having a facelift at age 60 is likely to have a greater amount of excess skin to be removed and may also need more extensive work done on the deeper tissues as well. At whatever age you have your facelift, the goal is to restore a more youthful contour to your face and neck.
There are a variety of techniques that surgeons may use in performing a facelift. These range from methods that reposition the deepest tissues to those that primarily are skin tightening procedures. There are also variations on the incisions that can be used. The particular technique that is right for you will depend on which areas of your face need correction, the extent of facial sagging, and your personal goals — including the amount of time you are willing to devote to healing and recovery.
“Mini-lifts” and other variations on the traditional facelift are a possibility for some patients. Although the specific names of these modified procedures may differ, in general, they all are less extensive and require a shorter recovery period than a full facelift. In most cases, “mini” techniques will not offer as complete a facial rejuvenation as a traditional facelift, but many patients — particularly younger women and men — feel the more limited correction is an acceptable tradeoff for the reduced recovery time.
Dr Gouverne can advise you whether a facelift is the right approach to correcting what bothers you about your appearance. If so — and if you are in generally good health, have realistic expectations, and can take the necessary time out of your business and social schedule — then you may be ready for a facelift.
Remember, a facelift can turn back the hands of time — but it cannot stop the clock from running! You will continue to age after your facelift, and, at some point in the future you may decide you would like to have another lift to refresh your appearance once again. Patients sometimes ask, “If I have a lift while I’m in my 40s or 50s, does that mean I will have to have another lift later on?” There is no rule that says once you have a facelift, you must have another. It’s entirely up to you — how you feel about the way you look. Whether you have only one lift in your lifetime, or more than one, having a facelift means that you will look younger and better for longer!
(From “Your Image,” a publication of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.)