Ask The Plastic Surgeon: What is a liquid facelift? Is it better than getting a surgical facelift?

Question: What is a liquid facelift? Is it better than getting a surgical facelift?

Answer:  A liquid facelift is a non scientific term used frequently to describe the use of injectables in order to give a patient improved facial contour and a more youthful appearance.  The term therefore is subject to interpretation and may not be equivalent among medical providers. The procedure typically includes a combination of fillers such as Juvederm or Radiesse in conjunction with Botox, and sometimes lasers or peels.

Before the flood of injectables to the cosmetic market, a facelift was really the only option for facial rejuvenation.  In skilled hands, facelift procedures can yield excellent results.  The downside however, is that the costs as well as the recovery are significant.

In recent years, quality injectables have been developed which give patients and plastic surgeons another option.  One thing to remember is that although the terminology is similar, surgical facelifts and “liquid facelifts” are two totally different things. Surgical facelifts are invasive procedures which separate the layers of the face and reposition the deeper muscle layer of the face back to its postion of youth and then also excise the redundant excess skin.  There are many variations of facelifts techniques and further discussion of which is beyond the scope of this question.

By the contrary, “Liquid facelifts” camouflage the typical signs of aging by filling the areas of facial depression and shadowing.  Neuromodulators are also commonly used to minimize facial wrinkles, as well as deep tissue fillers to create skeletal fullness and tissue tightening.

Often times, a combination of surgical procedures combined with facial fillers and neuromodulators yields the best results. Although many patients can benefit from both types of treatments, not all patients are candidates for both or even either treatment.  This is why the evaluation and consultation with your plastic surgeon is crucial to achieving your goal.  If the “medical professional” can only offer a liquid facelift, then everyone is going to get a liquid facelift even if this is not the best option.  Plastic surgeons have the training and knowledge to offer both the surgical and the non surgical facial rejuvenation option and their skill and non-biased approach will allow for a more detailed and realistic predictable goal.  

Facial injectables have opened up a huge new population of candidates for such procedures but they do have their limitations and this is why the relationship with a trusted plastic surgeon is crucial to help the patient choose and achieve the results they desire.