You can’t ignore the results of a bad face lift. It’s usually pretty obvious that the patient has had work done. The face looks as though it’s constantly facing a strong gust of wind, the lips are flattened and wide, and the cheeks are pulled taut. Sometimes the ears even look distorted.

Ideally, after you get a face lift, it shouldn’t be obvious that you’ve had surgery. The changes to your face should be noticeable but very subtle. Avoiding the “done” look after your surgery depends on the skill and artistic talent of your surgeon, the technique he uses, and whether your face is right for the procedure in the first place.

The Right Candidate

A face lift isn’t the right surgery for everyone. Depending on how your face is aging, you might be better suited to a less invasive procedure, such as injectable treatments or skin resurfacing. face lifts are intended to fix loose skin in the neck and jowl area and along the lower third of the face. If you have loose skin in this area, a face lift might the ideal surgery for you. The best candidates for the surgery have good bone structure but a loss of muscle and fat, plus loose skin.

Your health plays a big role in determining whether or not the surgery is appropriate for you. Certain conditions can slow the healing process while certain lifestyle habits can increase your risks during the surgery and slow healing afterwards, which can impact your results. For example, you should cut back on drinking alcohol and quit smoking if you are thinking about a face lift. The surgery is usually only a good idea if you are at or near your goal weight. Losing or gaining a lot of weight after the procedure can negatively impact the results.


The technique the surgeon uses is one of the biggest factors in determining the outcome of the surgery. Older techniques focused on removing extra skin and tightening the remaining skin. In many cases, the procedure led to the pulled tight, “windswept” look that is often maligned these days.

The too-tight appearance can also occur is a surgeon uses too much tension when trimming excess skin and tightening the muscles and skin. A clear way to see that there is too much tension after the procedure is to look at a patient’s ears. If the ears look as though they are pulling forward or have a bump in the middle, there is too much tension.

The direction the surgeon pulls the skin also plays a role in the final results. The skin of the face shouldn’t be pulled tightly to the sides during the surgery, as that creates the strange-looking open curtain look where is seems as if the patient’s face is a set of stage curtains being slowly drawn apart.

Preferred Techniques

One of the best ways to avoid the obvious face lift look is for a surgeon to establish clear boundaries for the surgery. At Gold Coast Plastic Surgery in Chicago, Dr. Moynihan focuses on the area from the corner of the mouth to the middle of the neck. His surgery leaves the upper face alone completely, and also avoids the nasolabial folds.

Modern face lift techniques that produce subtle results tend to focus on adding volume to the facial area and better positioning of the skin, fat and muscles. The surgeon might use a fat graft during the surgery to add lift to the area, for example.

Look at the Evidence

As a patient, it’s your job to carefully evaluate the surgeon you choose to perform the procedure. Looking for credentials such as training, experience and board certification is a must. Remember that face lifts and plastic surgery are part science and skill and part artistry. If a surgeon doesn’t have the artistic talent, you might not get the results you want. One way to gauge a surgeon’s talent is to ask to see before and after photos of previous patients. Ideally, the patients in those photos will look better but not as though they’ve been worked on.

In Chicago, Dr. George Moynihan is a board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and as an Otolaryngologist by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery who specializes in plastic surgery of the face. To discuss your options for a face lift and decide if the procedure is right for you, call his office at 312.988.9300 for a consultation.

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