It’s easy to panic at the thought of getting older. You look in the mirror and see the first few signs of aging, whether they are some droopiness in the chin or neck areas, some lines around your eyes, or creases by your nose and mouth. While no one wants to look older than they feel, the good news is that you have more options for surgical rejuvenation than ever before.
If you’re considering a procedure to turn back the clock, you might first think about a facelift. But facelifts aren’t for everyone. Some people might better benefit from the results they get from a mid-facelift. If you’re not sure what the difference between the two surgeries is or what those differences mean, here are a few things that can help you decide on one or the other.
What’s a Traditional Facelift?
Generally, a traditional facelift is a surgical procedure that helps reverse the signs of aging on the lower third of the face and in the neck area. As you get older, the skin starts to loose elasticity. It produces less and less of the proteins and support structures that help it stay firm and supple. As a result, the skin begins to droop and sag.
How much it droops and sags and where is partly determined by your genes and partly determined by your facial structure and body weight. If your mom or dad had droopy jowls and cheeks, it’s likely you will too. If you’ve lost a lost of weight throughout your life, the fluctuations in the amount of fat in the facial area can make your skin more likely to sag. Some people have more prominent cheekbones and other facial bones, which provide more support to the skin, even as it becomes less and less elastic.
A traditional facelift aims to reverse some of that sagginess and droopiness by tightening the skin and underlying tissue in the lower portion of the face. Older methods of the surgery focused purely on tightening the skin, which often led to a taut, “windswept” look.
Newer, more advanced methods focus on removing extra fat from the area and tightening the underlying tissue, before redraping the skin and removing any extra. The result is a more natural and more youthful look. In the best circumstances, a facelift can take up to 10 years off of your appearance.
What’s a Mid-Facelift?
Although it also has facelift in its name, the goals and techniques of a mid-facelift are very different from those of a typical full facelift. The mid-facelift focuses on elevating and rejuvenating the cheek and under eye area. Usually, the procedure involves repositioning the skin and fat of the cheek area, creating a fuller and more youthful-looking face. The surgery can also smooth deep creases and nasolabial folds.
While the incisions made during a standard facelift are usually by the ears in the hairline, the incisions made during a mid-facelift can be inside of the mouth, in the lower lash line of the eyes or in the hairline.
What Are Your Goals?
Your specific anti-aging goals will help you decide whether the full facelift or the mid-facelift is the right option for you. If you’re looking to minimize the appearance of jowls or to reduce sagging in the chin and lower cheek area, a facelift is the better pick. But if your goal is to add fullness to the cheeks or to minimize deep smile lines, a mid-facelift is most likely going to be your better option.
Recovery After Either Surgery
Often, the mid-facelift is the shorter procedure, with a slightly quicker recovery period. The surgery takes about an hour and a half to perform and initial recovery takes about two weeks, if not less. A full facelift can take as long as three hours to perform and you can expect to take at least two weeks off from work.
But, since the goals for and results of each surgery are so different, the difference in duration and the amount of recovery time you’ll need afterwards shouldn’t really have that much influence over whether you choose one over the other.
Can You Combine Procedures?
What if you’re concerned about a loss of fullness in your cheek area and about droopy jowls? You don’t have to choose to have either a mid-facelift or a traditional facelift. It’s possible to combine surgeries to get a more fully rejuvenated appearance and to really get the full results you are after.
Combining surgeries can mean a longer recovery time initially, but it still means less time spent recovering than if you were to have the procedures performed separately. Along with combining both a standard facelift and a mid-facelift, it’s possible to combine either or both surgeries with a range of procedures, from a brow lift or eyelid lift, to fat transfer or dermal filler injections.
Dr. Jessica Kulak is a facial plastic surgeon who specializes in anti-aging and rejuvenating procedures. Practicing at the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland, she can help you decide if a regular or mid-facelift–or both–is the right option for you. To schedule a consultation with her at the practice in Maryland, call 301-222-2020. For a consultation at the practice in Virginia, call 703-481-0002.