WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LOWER FACELIFT, A FULL FACELIFT AND A NECK LIFT?
“Different doctors use different terms to describe various facial techniques. A neck lift tightens and removes the bands under the jawline, chin and jowls which can be created by excess skin or from loose muscle. We remove the extra skin behind incisions we make in the hairline behind the ears. You can tell what your neck will look like by placing your forefingers below your jawline and outside your jaw, then pushing the skin upward and back. A neck lift only addresses the jowls a little bit. You won’t get a complete correction of the jowls.
“A facelift pulls up the skin at the cheeks towards the forehead and repositions some of the fat in the cheeks that has dropped down to a more appropriate place underneath the eyes. This gives the face a more youthful appearance. The procedure also reduces the nasolabial folds and marionette lines and improves the appearance of the jowls. Incisions are made in front of the ears. To mimic a facelift, put your fingers at the top of your cheekbones and push your skin upward and back.
“Lower or mini facelift are just marketing terms. Doctors use the same techniques as they do for a full facelift. There’s really no difference. When the cheeks are repositioned, it often lifts a small pinch of skin into the lower eyelids, which can be removed or tightened with laser resurfacing. Your doctor also might want to remove some skin and add some fat to the upper eyelids. This keeps all the components of your face in harmony. You don’t want to have a youthful-looking neck, jawline and face, but old-looking eyes.”
WHAT HAPPENS IF A PATIENT WOULD BENEFIT FROM A FULL FACE LIFT, BUT ONLY HAS A NECK LIFT?
“She could wind up with a youthful neck and an older-looking face.”
HOW LONG IS FACELIFT SURGERY AND WHAT IS THE DOWNTIME?
“It can take from four to six hours. The drains we place in the neck during surgery will stay in overnight to prevent fluid collection in the area. They’re removed the next day. We take out the sutures under the chin and around the ears after five to seven days. At that point, most people wouldn’t know a woman had anything done because her hair will hide the suture marks. The patient might be a little swollen and have a little bit of bruising after a week, but should basically look back to normal. We prescribe painkillers for two or three days following surgery, but patients tell me that they have less pain than they expected.”
WHAT’S THE COST FOR A FACELIFT?
“It’s about $26k to $28k in San Francisco, but some doctors here charge as much as $40k. Some of the really good people in New York charge between $40k and $50K. One surgeon in LA charges about well over $50k for a facelift but he’s not necessarily better than anyone else. Certain people equate better quality with paying more, but we all know that’s not always true.
“We often see women who give give give to everyone else, but at some point it’s ok for them to spend some time and money to take care of themselves. You need to look at this as an investment in yourself. You’re going to look better, feel better and have more confidence. You’ll enjoy things more than you did before surgery. There’s no way of getting around the cost. It’s an expensive surgery. It’s like buying a small car.”
MANY WOMEN THINK IT’S SIMPLY PURE VANITY TO HAVE A FACELIFT
“There’s more to it than that. Research on breast augmentation patients shows it helps depression and gives them a greater sense of self worth and confidence. Facelifts are in a similar category. They really can have a profound psychological impact on a woman’s self confidence and how she interacts with others, especially if she’s self conscious about the way she looks. Women go through a lot of changes in their 50s, and face work can give them a better outlook on life at this time in their lives.
“When a woman asks whether she should have a procedure on a certain area of her body or face, I’ll ask if that area bothers her. If she answers, ‘Yes, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,’ I’ll say, ‘So let’s do something about it.’ Another woman might ask my opinion, but after I give it to her, she’ll respond that nothing on her body or face bothers her. I would tell this woman not to spend money on something that doesn’t concern her.
“I know doctors who have done face work on 80- and 90-year-old women. As long as you’re healthy and want to look better, there is no such thing as being too old.”