July 14, 2016

Facelift Q&A with Dr. Buonasissi: What's the Difference Between a Surgical and Non-Surgical Facelift?

Profile view of before and after facelift procedure with Dr. Buonassisi
Angie Buonassisi
# min read

Thinking about having a facelift but wondering whether you can achieve the same or similar results with a non-surgical procedure? This week we sat down with our facial plastic surgeon at 8 West,Dr. Thomas Buonassisi, to discuss the key differences between surgical and non-surgical facelifts.Dr. Buonassisi is a board certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and has 15 years experience doing a high volume of surgical facelift procedures.Q: What’s the difference between a surgical and non-surgical facelift?

A: There is no such thing as a non-surgical or microcurrent facelift.

What I mean is that there is no technology available today that can create the same results as a facelift, without surgery. However, for marketing purposes, the term “non-surgical” in front of facelift as an easy way to try to explain what the procedure does. 

Even though "non surgical facelifts" don't create the same results as a surgical facelift, they can certainly improve the appearance of the face are effective as part of an overall anti aging regime.

Q: So, how is a "non surgical" facelift different to a surgical facelift?

A: To do a good job of answering this question, we need to explore what a surgical facelift actually does:

  1. repositioning of deep structures of the face - elevating cheeks, tissue and tendons to where they were before (achieved by accessing deep structures of the face through incisions)
  2. tightening and smoothing of the jawline and the neck - over time we develop jowls (sagging pockets near the corners of the mouth), our jawlines become less sharp and we accumulate extra skin in the neck and below the chin - a surgical facelift literally lifts and tightens the jawline and the platysma muscle (the one under the chin which sags over time)
  3. removal of extra skin - as we age, in addition to our face structures dropping with gravity, our skin actually becomes loser and less elastic (it stretches) - there does not exist a way to shrink skin non surgically - with a surgical facelift, this extra skin is trimmed away.

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Before and after facelift with Vancouver facial plastic surgeon

Profile view of before and after facelift procedure with Dr. Buonassisi[/caption]

Q: Why doesn't a microcurrent facelift do the same thing as a surgical facelift?

A: A non-surgical microcurrent facelift causes a VERY SLIGHT contraction of the muscles. That's it. no elevation of tissue is achieved, neither is removal of lax skin.

A "micro current facelift" is done with a hand-held device that puts out an extremely micro electrical stimulation into the patient's face, causing the muscle contraction. This may provide a subtle and short-lived improvement, but the results are often not significant and can not be compared to a surgical facelift.

Q: What other types OF FACELIFTS are there?

A: There is something called an ultrasound non-surgical facelift.

It works by heating the deep layers of the face to stimulate collagen, and makes the skin thicker and plumper which gives the appearance of a subtle tightening. While this procedure also has zero downtime and is less expensive, it's important to be realistic about your expectations as it won't replace a surgical facelift. As with other non surgical techniques, no tissue is repositioned and no extra skin trimmed away. Neck muscles (like the platysma) can not be improved with ultrasound.

Having said that, with proper expectations, patients can be very pleased with the results of non surgical facelifts done with ultrasound or other technologies - so long as they are not expecting the results of a surgical facelift. Many patients have regular treatments of ultrasound or radio frequency to help maintain youthful skin.

Q: What about dermal fillers?

A: Dermal fillers can help give the appearance of a lift.

Dermal fillers can provide a great improvement in the overall appearance to the face by adding volume and addressing common facial volume loss from aging. They can also help restore a youthful appearance, but won't address lax skin along the jaw-line or neck area. On the upside, this is a very simple procedure with a quick recovery that can provide great results.

Q: Doesn't a surgical facelift look unnatural or have a really long recovery?

A: Surgical facelifts have changed a lot. We no longer simply pull on the skin, creating that awful wind blown look. We reposition all the structures of the face so that everything comes up, not just the skin. There are several different variations, including a mini lift, short incision or long incision (which includes a neck lift), and the surgery is really tailored to each patient's objectives and tolerance for downtime.

Have questions about facelift surgery and if it the right thing for you? Request a complementary pre consultation with one of our super kind and knowledgeable patient care managers today!

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