Making the Decision: Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Face LiftPublished on July 7, 2014 by George Moynihan
If your face has aged more than you feel comfortable with, it might be time to consider a face lift. While plenty of other cosmetic procedures, both surgical and not, can reduce the signs of aging on your face, a face lift is considered the most effective, with the longest lasting results.
That might be enough to encourage some people to get a face lift right away. But, as with any elective surgery, the decision to undergo a face lift isn’t one to be made lightly or quickly. Weigh the pros and cons of the procedure with your surgeon before deciding to go under the knife (or not).
Pro: It’s Effective
One of the biggest advantages of a face lift is that it produces results. The surgery focuses on the lower portion of the face and can reduce sagginess in the jowl or chin area, as well as the neck area. A face lift takes years off of your face.
A 2013 study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery found that when people looked at pictures of patients who had undergone the surgery, they estimated the age of the patient an average of five years younger than the patient’s real age. When looking at patients who hadn’t yet had a face lift, study participants guessed that the patients were an average of two years younger than their real age.
Patients who underwent face lift surgery reported even better results than casual observers. A 2011 study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that the 122 patients surveyed felt that they looked an average of nearly 12 years younger. The vast majority of patients — 97 percent — were happy with the results of their surgery.
Con: Recovery Time
Effectiveness has a price, and for many, it’s the longer recovery time following a face lift compared to non-surgical options. Initial recovery from the procedure can take about two weeks. Usually, you can go back to work 10 to 14 days after the surgery. If your work involves a lot of rigorous or strenuous activity, you might need to delay your return to work even more. Usually, it’s recommended that you hold off on exercise or other vigorous activity for about four weeks after the surgery.
Pro: Long-Lasting Results
With that longer recovery time comes the promise of longer-lasting results. While the results from fillers last for two years at the most and in some cases just a few months, the results from a face lift typically last for at least 10 years. It’s possible for the results to last even longer, depending on how your face ages.
A 2012 study demonstrated the longevity of a face lift. It found that more than three quarters of patients still looked younger than their years an average of five and a half years after the surgery.
Con: Surgical Risks
Face lifts aren’t for everyone, and the risk of complications during and after the surgery is something to think about carefully if you are considering the surgery. The risk for complications depends in part on the skill of the surgeon and the technique he or she uses. Ideally, the surgeon will use a technique that significantly reduces your risk for complications.
Your health and lifestyle also plays a role in determining your risk for complications. Taking certain medicines, such as aspirin, increases your risk for bleeding. To lower that risk, your doctor will advise you against taking certain medications in the weeks leading up to your surgery. You’ll also be asked to stop smoking a few weeks before the procedure, as tobacco slows down your body’s ability to heal
Pro: Can Be Combined With Other Surgeries
Since a face lift only affects the lower third of the face, it is often performed at the same time as other procedures, such as eyelid surgery or a brow lift. Combining surgeries has several advantages.
For one, it can improve your results, giving you a more youthful look all over your face. Having a brow lift at the same time as a face lift means that your forehead will look as youthful as your jawline and chin.
Having multiple surgeries performed at the same time can also be more cost effective and more efficient. You’re able to combine recovery times, so you don’t have to take more time off from work.
Dr. George Moynihan is a facial plastic surgeon in the Chicago area with more than a decade of experience. He can review the benefits and drawbacks of a face lift with you and help you make the best decision. To schedule an appointment at his practice, call (312) 988-9300 today.