Cosmetic Surgery: Alternatives to a surgical facelift

Image: Spa Journal

Image: Spa Journal

It may surprise you to learn, but the amount of people undergoing surgical facelifts has fallen for the first time in years. This is in no doubt due to the gaining popularity of non-surgical procedures that are being undertaken as a way to restore lost volume and reduce sagging skin.

Why our faces appear to look older as we age

But are these alternatives any good and how do they work? Let’s first examine why our faces appear to look older as we age.

Facial aesthetic expert Dr Herve Raspaldo defines an attractive face as one characterized by ‘smooth, round contours, high cheekbones and a thin, well-defined jaw line’. These features go to make up the ‘triangle of beauty’ or ‘heart face’, with a larger base at the top and the smaller tip of the chin below. Ageing conspires to reverse this triangle, and we find that as our forehead gets lined and our jowls sag, the triangle is now at the bottom as our jawline gets wider and heavier.

Typically to combat this a surgical facelift would be carried out, which would pull back the skin around the jawline, cutting away the excess and stitching behind the ears. Nowadays, with the rise of fillers, hydrating compounds and lifting solutions, experts have formulated non-surgical methods of rejuvenating the face, without having to go under the knife.

Are these alternatives any good and how do they work?

So let’s look at what’s available.



For those who want a fresher look, and do not have too much sagging skin, your best bet is to have a dermal filler such as Restylane Sub-Q or Juvederm Voluma.

Dermal fillers are made from Hyaluronic acid which occurs naturally in the skin and works by holding onto ten times its own weight of the water in your skin, which therefore creates volume. Fillers work best in areas such as the smile lines, the nasolabial folds and lipstick lines.

They can also be used to add additional volume in areas like your cheeks bones to lift up and sculpt the face. This is also known as the Y Lift, and works by adding definition to flat cheeks, cheekbones, the chin and the jaw. By enhancing the cheekbone structure your whole face is lifted. This technique works best in the 40-65 year-old age group.

The effects of fillers such as Restylane Sub Q and Juvederm™ Voluma™ last for over a year and after this amount of time will start to dissolve and break down in the skin naturally. If left with no further treatments the skin will gradually return to how it looked pre-treatment.

The procedure is relatively painless and takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete under a local anesthetic.

Thread Lifting

Thread lifting is a better solution for those who have more pronounced sagging, especially around the jowl areas, as it uses stitches to gently pull back the sagging skin.

The procedure works by inserting thin sutures, about 3-5mm deep, into the chosen area to gently lift and reposition the skin. There are several versions of a thread lift, but they all involve utilizing a similar basic technique of inserting these fine sutures which have bidirectional cones (barbed) along the threads that when pulled, lift the skin and hold it in place.

The treatment usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes under a local anesthetic and you may experience some discomfort in the post treatment days. Results are expected to last for around 18 months as the sutures are reabsorbed into the body in 18-24 months.

Our opinion

As our lifestyles have changed and we strive for faster techniques with less downtime that are minimally invasive, it seems that we are actually sacrificing long lasting effects for speed and efficiency. Although the above methods are all effective, both in cost and appearance, they only have short-term results, and will all require regular touch-ups and continued treatments.

So you as a consumer have to weigh up whether you want the inconvenience of a pretty major operation of a surgical facelift, which will give you a good decade of youthful appearances, or opt for several mini treatments over the course of every 18 months or so.

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