When you hear the word facelift, your mind probably registers a pretty specific image: An older man or woman whose face and neck skin seems disproportionately tight compared to the skin on their arms or legs.
We have Madonna to thank for that. And Kathy Griffin. And Cher.
But we’ve come a long way since the days of the one-size-fits-all procedure that yielded those sorts of results. The facelift, up until only a few years ago, was a pretty straightforward procedure. A flap of skin on each side of the face was pulled back, the tissue below the skin was altered, and the excess skin was removed.
Clinically, it was a sound remedy for the loss of skin elasticity and decrease in fat deposits that inevitably accompany aging at a certain point. But very few plastic surgeons were capable of many deviations. Skip ahead to today: The traditional facelift is now merely one of many ways to achieve a more youthful-looking face. What’s changed? Read on.
Less is more
For starters, we’re living in what’s been described as the age of the “tweak-ment.” Gone are the days of the exaggerated breast enhancements, overfilled lips, and unrealistic facelifts. Patients, more and more, want to keep their family traits and look like themselves—but with a few refined tweaks.
Ten years ago, a patient was likely to come in for their consultation clutching a magazine cover featuring their favorite supermodel. That’s who they wanted to look like. Now, more are interested in looking like themselves, but the version of themselves that appears through their preferred Instagram filter.
That interest has given rise to more precise variations of a number of cosmetic procedures, including the facelift. There’s the mini-facelift, which targets the earliest signs of aging, and the mid-facelift, which focuses on the cheeks, among other types of facelifts.
Injectables, lasers, and skin resurfacing are also more accessible than they’ve ever been. They can be quick, lunchtime procedures that yield immediate but subtle effects with limited downtime, qualities that contribute to their convenience as well as their confidentiality.
There’s more to it than technique
For all the scientific advances, the expertise of the plastic surgeon remains the greatest factor in producing a result that aligns with what the patient has in mind. Yes, it’s a matter of technique and tools, but to an even greater extent, it’s also about the surgeon’s artistry.
Difficult as a plastic surgeon’s training is, it’s at least something that can be honed with practice. The same can’t really be said for his creativity. If he discovered an ability to express himself through one medium or another early on, he’s as likely to nurture it as anyone. But if he didn’t, he’s just as inclined to abandon it.
A technically-proficient surgeon can correct the concern. But only an artful one will truly enhance the face’s inherent structure and traits.