Traditional face lifts seem to have come and gone as cosmetic advancements have discovered more natural, non-surgical methods of looking younger. Surgical face lift procedures still have their place in the cosmetic industry, and likely always will. But for those looking for non-invasive, natural alternatives like non-surgical facelifts to improve sagging skin there are a few routes to consider!
History of the Face Lift
There is a long list of individuals who participated in the development of surgical face lifts, but three men in particular are recognized for getting us to where we are today. The first person in history to popularize the concept of a surgical face lift was named Erich Lexer and he did so way back in 1916. His methods were largely used for a majority of the 1900’s! However, skipping ahead to 1970 we find that the genesis of modern-day, surgical face lift procedures came to light by a man named Tord Skoog, who had a passion for plastic and cosmetic surgery. His fascination and curiosity for this field actually led science and “further enhanced our understanding of the intricate facial anatomy” (Oxford Academic, 2020). Because of advanced knowledge of the anatomy of the face, he was able to develop a better method of surgical facelift. Dubbed the Superficial Musculoaponeurotic System (or SMAS), this strategy of manipulating and suspending deeper layers beneath the skin provided more desirable results compared to Lexer’s original method (Anya Kishinevsky, MD, 2018). Finally, we are introduced to Paul Tessier. Tessier’s multidisciplinary training and passion for facial surgery unexpectedly led him to assist in the progression of surgical face lift procedures. Working with his team, their advanced knowledge of skeletal structure combined with facial anatomy led us to the most modern surgical face lift procedures which involve removing small amounts of bone around the eyes to more effectively and naturally elevate the facial tissue (Anya Kishinevsky, MD, 2018). Tessier’s advancements were so effective that we use them to this day (combined with the foundational methodologies of Lexer and Skoog)!
Pros and Cons of Surgical Face Lift
As with all cosmetic procedures, there are pros and cons to receiving a surgical face lift. The indisputable benefits of this procedure are that it can dramatically smooth out deep lines and wrinkles caused by sagging and aging skin, as well as eliminate extra skin resulting from this aging or other circumstances like extreme weight loss (Healthline, 2018). This all aligns with the ultimate goal of looking younger and feeling more confident. In most cases, it would also appear that traditional face lifts don’t require maintenance or upkeep aside from consistent anti aging skin care routines. In fact, staying on top of your skin care routine after receiving this surgery has a powerful impact on how long you maintain your results from a face lift.
Having said that, this is where we come face to face with some of the cons of a surgical face lift. Recipients of a surgical face lift oftentimes find themselves in need of a secondary face lift anywhere between 5 - 15 years after their first procedure (Deschamps-Braly Clinic). This is either because the first operation wasn’t quite enough to achieve the desired results of the recipient or because the individual feels unsatisfied with their aging process at another point in the future. Furthermore, this surgery has quite a lengthy recovery period. Professionals have explained that this recovery has two phases: surgical downtime and social downtime, with full recovery time estimated at 8 weeks (Restora Austin). The postoperative side effects are another pretty significant con that often steers people away from invasive face lifts, ranging from prolonged swelling and bleeding to cardiac events and problems with the healing process (Healthline, 2018).
Non-Surgical Face Lift Options
Microcurrent as a Face Lift Alternative
This is our area of expertise and our favorite option for non-surgical face lift: microcurrent facials. Not only is this a non-surgical facelift, but a completely non-invasive treatment as well. This technology works by moving two metal ball probes over the face to target trouble areas that commonly lose their muscle tone and elasticity with age. The microcurrent machines contain probes that pinch and hold facial muscles and deliver a small electrical current to them. This small current is a microcurrent and it flows with our body’s own natural processes to re-energize cellular activity in the facial muscles and stimulate protein synthesis that tends to slow down as we age.
Benefits - When our facial muscles receive this new energy, it improves their strength and allows them to hold their shape, improving the facial contour. When key structural proteins like Collagen and Elastin are boosted, it brings our natural plumpness and radiance back to the skin while easing fine lines and eye wrinkles and tightening the jaw-line and cheekbones. One of the several benefits of the microcurrent treatment is that it not only repairs damaged muscles but also “retrains” them to get tighter and firmer. These non surgical facelifts also brighten the complexion as they enhance blood circulation to the skin, which in turn increases the oxygen supply to the cells, awarding a natural glow that is hard to achieve with surgical treatments. Think of it this way: youthful, plump, radiant, and fresh looking skin is a byproduct of microcurrent facelifts! To top it off? It requires zero recovery time or down time!
Side-Effects - The side-effects you want to be aware of are strobing sensations when the treatment is being performed around the eyes and a metallic taste in your mouth when treating areas around the mouth. Both these sensations are completely normal, though they may create discomfort. If you have a history of epilepsy you may want to consider a different option or at least avoid eye treatments with microcurrent devices. For a full list of medical conditions that may not be suitable for microcurrent therapy, click here.
Downside - The only notable downside to microcurrent stimulation as a non-invasive and non-surgical face lift alternative is that treatments must be consistent to retain facial lifting and toning results. However, this ultimately means one treatment per month (once desired results are achieved), which can be easily integrated into your regular monthly facial! While immediate and fast results are common, most recipients of a microcurrent facial should expect to see results within one month of treatments, with at least one treatment per week.
Injectables as a Face Lift Alternative
One of the most common face lift alternatives with fast results is the use of injectables like Botox, dermal fillers or fat injections. While these are not “non-invasive” options, they do keep you away from any larger surgical methods for a face lift. As opposed to activating and exercising the muscles the way a microcurrent facial works, using Botox as a non-surgical face lift alternative works by freezing the muscle, reducing its contracting capabilities and therefore making it more difficult to cause wrinkles.
Downsides - It can even prevent you from emotively expressing as it tightens the facial muscles by paralyzing them. But that’s not all! Some patients may experience allergies from the drugs, which need to be administered properly in the first place. Given the possibility of developing severe side-effects, it’s best to get Botox injections from a licensed medical professional.
Dermal Fillers - In the same family of injectable options for a face lift, dermal fillers and fat injections work to add volume and plumpness back to the areas of the face. Dermal fillers are a gel-like injection technique and fat injections repurpose fatty tissue extracted through liposuction procedures. Again, with injectable options as a non-surgical face lift alternative there is required upkeep. The time between maintenance appointments depends on the injection you choose, but ranges from 3 months to a year (Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD., 2018).
Skin Tightening Methods as a Face Lift Alternative
Other non-invasive and non-surgical face lift alternatives can be found when you turn to skin tightening treatments. The most popular skin tightening method today is a radio frequency facial, which works by heating the skin and creating a healing response from within the skin which ultimately tightens the skin on the face. Ultrasound therapy is also an effective skin tightening approach. This technology “uses ultrasound waves sent deep into your skin to stimulate collagen production” (Healthline, 2020).
Side-effects - There are some side-effects you want to look out for with these methods; primarily burning or redness of the skin. Again, with this method the best results will come with consistency or regularity of use and by connecting with a professional who specializes in this type of face lift alternative.
Great Skin at Any Age
Great skin is possible at any age and regardless of existing skin conditions. And while surgical facelifts are becoming less necessary with more natural alternatives available, it is important to know the pros and cons of all options to make the best decision for your skin goals and comfort level. We always advise consulting with preventative skin care and anti aging skin care professionals who can help you better understand the full scope of what is possible before turning to surgical adjustments to your face. Another worthwhile point to remember is that when it comes to surgical options to look younger, these typically cannot be reversed, even if you’re not happy with the results. So it’d be best to carefully deliberate upon the probabilities of any surgical alternative before making a decision. Working with someone who shows compassion and understanding for your skin and for you as a person will make you feel more confident going into any next steps you may want to take.
Remember great skin can be achieved at any age, even with non-surgical alternatives. And if you lead a life full of positivity and enjoy mental and physical health, your inner wellbeing reflects on your face.