What is a Facelift?
The natural process of facial aging involves changes in 3 areas: the skin, the underlying muscles and soft tissues, and the facial fat. Skin aging is treated with lasers, chemical peels, and other resurfacing procedures. Loss of facial fat is treated with fillers and fat grafting. A facelift is performed to lift and reposition the sagging muscles and other facial soft tissues. Unfortunately, the term facelift is used to describe anything from the removal of a small amount of sagging skin to a comprehensive lift addressing the deep tissues of the cheeks, jowls, and neck. Any facelift procedure that does not address the deep plane or muscular layer is unlikely to provide any lasting benefit.
Drs. Thompson and Henstrom perform two types of facelifts. The full facelift comprehensively addresses the cheek or midface area, the jowls or lower face, and the neck. This is the procedure of choice for patients who have concerns in all three of these areas. Incisions are hidden in natural contours and folds around the ears and hairline and are difficult to see when fully healed. For those with minor aging or who are interested primarily in correction of the jowls the MACS (mini) facelift can be considered. As each patient’s face and desires are different, an individualized plan for facial rejuvenation will be made after consultation with Dr. Thompson or Henstrom.
The Utah Facial Plastics Difference
Our surgeons’ facelift technique differs from a typical facelift technique because it is more comprehensive. A traditional facelift works well for lifting loose jowls but is inadequate for treating significant neck laxity and generally overlooks the mid-face. Drs. Thompson and Henstrom’s preferred facelift rejuvenates the neck, jowls, and mid-face area for long-lasting results. Both surgeons specialize in facelift surgery and perform 8 times more facelifts annually than the average plastic surgeon in the United States. Their extensive training as facial plastic surgeons is completely focused on the face and differs from training and accreditation of cosmetic surgeons and full body plastic surgeons. To learn more about the differences, click HERE.
With Dr. Thompson and Henstrom’s combined 40 years of training and experience, you can trust you’ll receive the best results possible with your facelift surgery at Utah Facial Plastics. Patients also appreciate their genuine concern for their well-being and satisfaction. They are committed to ethical, caring, and honest treatment of their patients and work very hard to earn and maintain their trust. Although patient care is their primary focus, Drs Thompson and Henstrom’s academic research and teaching abilities have been recognized throughout their careers with numerous awards as well as several scholarly publications. Learn more about our surgeons credentials HERE.
Fat Grafting to Restore Volume
Drs. Thompson and Henstrom often incorporate fat grafting as well to restore volume loss that naturally occurs over time. Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injections, is taking a patient’s own fat from one area of the body, typically the abdomen, thighs or back, and is placing it carefully into various facial areas to restore volume. The fat can be placed into deep nasolabial folds, tear troughs and marionette lines, hollow temples and skin depressions in the face. Facelift surgery, together with fat grafting and other ancillary surgical procedures can provide comprehensive facial rejuvenation for an ultimately natural, youthful result. Learn more about fat grafting.
Frequently Asked Facelift Questions
An ideal candidate for a facelift, rhytidectomy, is typically in their 40’s or older, has significant jowling and neck laxity with a desire for a more comprehensive, longer laster approach to the alternatives. It’s important that the patient is in good to excellent health and does not smoke. Individuals with good skin elasticity and strong bone structure will have the best possibility for an excellent surgical outcome.
Drs. Scott Thompson and Douglas Henstrom, double board certified facial plastic surgeons in Utah, have extensive experience performing facelift surgery. During your consultation, they will discuss your concerns as well as your goals and motivations for surgery. An exam and review of your current and previous health history will also take place. They will then examine the structures of your face and neck, assess the quality of your skin tone and bone structure, and will make recommendations he feels will help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Your surgeon will discuss the procedure(s) he recommends and give information on where incisions will be placed, possible risks and complications, and make any non-surgical recommendations to enhance the overall surgical outcome. These options may include dermal fillers, Botox®, laser treatments, and/or professional skincare, some of which may be included in your surgical package. They will advise you to avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen products, Vitamin E and certain herbal medications before surgery, as these medications can cause increased bleeding and/or bruising. They will also insist that you discontinue smoking for at least one month prior to surgery to ensure proper healing, if applicable. More information is given at your pre-operative appointment 2 weeks prior to surgery. Your Patient Care Coordinator will then provide you with all the financial details on any procedure discussed at your consultation and give financing options if applicable. She can also help facilitate the next step in the process and/or provide additional resources, such as before and after photos, articles, educational videos, etc.
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During a facelift surgery, Drs. Thompson and Henstrom begin the incision in the area of the temple, just above and in front of the ear. The incision continues under the earlobe and follows the back of the ear and blends into the hairline. The skin is gently lifted and repositioned and the underlying muscle and connective tissue is tightened. Fat is often removed as well as excess skin. For men, the incision line often blends into the natural line of the beard. In all cases, they place incisions where they’ll fall in line with natural skin creases. Fine sutures hold incisions in place. Surgery last anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on the case and is done in a surgical facility under general anesthesia. Dressings and a head wrap are applied to protect the entire area where the incisions have been made and hold things in place.
Because of the high quality care and advanced resourced Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful, Utah provides, our surgeons have performed hundreds of facelift surgeries in their surgical facility with great success. Patients appreciate the high level of care they receive from such an experienced team of healthcare professionals. The surgical center at Lakeview Hospital is JCAHO certified, which means it has passed the highest level of federal inspection for safety. Drs. Thompson and Henstrom believe a fully accredited surgical center is in the best interest of his patients, as well as a board-certified anesthesiologist who has completed medical school, residency, and board certification with years of experience. They have worked closely with the anesthesia group at Lakeview Hospital and has been trusting his patients in their care for nearly ten years. Hospitals only allow plastic surgeons certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to perform cosmetic procedures in their operating rooms. The credentialing process the surgical center undergoes is extensive. Subsequently, the process to credential practicing surgeons is also very thorough and often takes months to complete. The surgeon has to provide proof of competency, training, and an accredited residency as well as proper board certification. You can rest assured you’ll receive exceptional care from the combined efforts of the staff at Utah Facial Plastics and the surgical team at Lakeview Hospital. With years of experience and successful outcomes, facelift patients trust that their safety and satisfaction are of utmost importance to all professionals involved. “In June, 2014, I had facial surgery at Lakeview Hospital. Though the procedure itself may not sound fun, the staff at the hospital were absolutely wonderful. From the intake (which was very fast), through the surgery and recovery and right through release, everyone (and I do mean everyone) gave excellent professional care. My wife was treated just as well. With timely updates during surgery and great hospitality, she was blown away. My surgeon, Dr. Scott Thompson and the attending anesthesiologist were also outstanding. The entire experience was exceptional, exceptional, exceptional. Having been in the health care field for 28 years before retiring, I would say that Lakeview Hospital and wonderful staff deserve a 3 thumbs up (yes, a 3).” For more information about Lakeview Hospital, click on the map below. Information about accommodations and transportation near Lakeview Hospital can be found on our Out Of Town Patients page.
Most patients report minimal pain but often experience a general feeling of tightness for the first 2-5 days. Medications to ease the pain, prevent infection and aid in the healing process are prescribed prior to surgery. Bruising and swelling are to be expected and peaks at approximately 48 hours. It’s recommended to use ice packs during this time to reduce the effects. Drs. Thompson and Henstrom encourage patients to spend the first night in the facility and can visit the next morning to remove dressings, clean incisions, and remove draining tube if applicable. Directions for care of incisions are given with encouragement to keep the head elevated and avoid as much activity as possible. All sutures are removed within five to 10 days following surgery. Most patients are feeling quite well after 1 week but may have signs of bruising and swelling for an additional week or two. Facelift surgery does not provide immediate gratification and you will definitely look worse before you look better. For many, withdrawing socially during recovery, compounded with limited physical exercise, can lead to short-term depression and/or anxiety. Our surgeons feel it’s important to prepare their patients before surgery to help negate or limit these negative feelings that can occur post-operatively. All information will be addressed and discussed at your pre-operative appointment, including the 4 emotional stages of facial surgery as shown in the graphic below. Our surgeons see facelift patients frequently during the first few weeks following surgery to make sure they are healing well and to help them through. Our nurses are also just a phone call or email away. We recognize that it takes a support team to guide you through and it’s very rewarding to see the happiness a patient experiences from facelift surgery once everything has healed. Some things Drs. Thompson or Henstrom recommend to help during this time are to avoid mirrors, get outdoors for some fresh air if possible, avoid negative friends and/or family, avoid internet searches on “botched plastic surgery”, and try to do things that you enjoy as long as you don’t overdo it physically.
Expect to be extremely happy with your facelift results and the youthful appearance you will regain. Patients report getting a lot of positive feedback from others who tell them they look great but are not sure what is different. They may think you changed your hairstyle or took a rejuvenating vacation. These comments are the sign of a great procedure that is not completely obvious to those around you.
When choosing a surgeon for facelift surgery, it’s important to remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort level with him or her should be the priority. Choosing a surgeon based on the lowest cost can come with a high price should you be unhappy with your result or end up in need of a revision facelift down the road. As a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, our surgeons provide the experience, training, and artistry to provide you with the best results possible. There are three components to the total cost for facelift surgery; the surgical fee, fee for the facility, and fee for anesthesia. According to 201 statistics from The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average surgical fee in the nation is between $8,000 and $12,000. Drs. Thompson and Henstrom’s surgical facelift fee is typically around $11,000 with facility and anesthesia fees but will vary depending on what is involved with your procedure. Your surgeon may recommend a mini lift (MACS Facelift), full facelift, or a combination of procedures best suited to help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Therefore, the cost will be less for a MACS facelift and higher if any revision or added procedures are involved. We recommend a complimentary consultation with our surgeons where you will receive a detailed quote on all fees involved as well as further information on financing opportunities. Keep in mind that the actual price for anesthesia and facility may be slightly higher or lower depending on the final length of surgery but the surgical fee will be fixed and is due one week prior to your surgical date.
The total cost for facelift surgery includes all pre and post-operative appointments and additional products designed to enhance your results and aid in the healing process. Arnica is given at the pre-operative appointment and is a homeopathic medication used to decrease bruising and swelling. Also included is SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum (retail $320) and a SkinMedica Lytera Brightening System ($250.00) to prepare your skin for surgery and provide facial rejuvenation. GloMinerals Corrective Kit ($21) is included to use as a safe way to camouflage bruising and incisions once all sutures have been removed. Lastly, SkinMedica’s Scar Recovery Gel ($42) is added to minimize scarring and speed up the healing process. Our surgeons feel a that the overall result is greatly enhanced with the use of this regimen as it includes only the best products available for healing and facial rejuvenation on the market today.
Additional surgeries are sometimes recommended to obtain the best results possible and the combination can vary depending on the patient’s needs and concerns. Facelift surgeries are typically done with fat injections, as mentioned above, to restore volume loss in the face and make use of the fat taken during the procedure. Sometimes our surgeons recommend a chin implant to strengthen the jaw and neckline or an eyelid and/or browlift to rejuvenate the upper part of the face as well. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your surgeon at your initial consultation so together you can come up with the best plan possible to achieve your goals.
Yes, Drs. Thompson and Henstrom perform his in-office MACS Facelift procedure often. The benefits include shortened recovery time, smaller incisions, no general anesthesia and lower cost. You can learn more on our MACS Facelift page. Our surgeons have both researched many minimally invasive facelift options, such as the Lifestyle Lift, and prefer the MACS facelift technique. This technique has been developed and refined over several decades and is performed not just by Drs. Thompson and Henstrom and a few other surgeons, but by hundreds of skilled and competent plastic surgeons. This means that the MACS facelift is accepted and endorsed by a huge body of plastic surgeons as an effective and safe procedure. The result of this collective experience is that the MACS facelift has been modified and improved as necessary and has proven itself as a reliable, consistent procedure with long-lasting results. Techniques that are developed and performed by only one or two surgeons by definition cannot benefit from the experience, improvements, and refinements of multiple skilled plastic surgeons.
A facelift can take 10-15 years off of a person’s appearance and feels like a fresh start in many ways. Once surgery has been performed and the SMAS layer, deep muscle, has been lifted and properly secured, it’s not necessarily going to drop back down on any certain day or number of years later. The aging process does continue after facelift surgery no matter what is done. This process is determined by many factors, including one’s genetics, hormones, activity level, nutrition, skincare regimens, stress levels, etc. Those deep tissues will become weaker over time and results are not completely permanent.
That being said, with a facelift or MACS facelift performed at Utah Facial Plastics, the improvement does last forever even though the aging process still continues. So years after a facelift, it may not look exactly the same as it did 2 months after surgery, but will still look much better than you would had you not undergone facelift surgery.
Also, the quality of one’s skin before surgery will have an effect on the lasting results. A heavy smoker or sun worshipper may experience signs of neck laxity sooner than someone with healthy skin would following facelift surgery. As mentioned above, sticking with a good skincare regimen with daily sunscreen use will not only enhance your overall results but maintain them as well. We see many patients following facelift surgery for skincare purchases and sometimes minor small touch-ups years later. Good habits and minimal maintenance can really keep your face looking fresh and youthful.
Overall, a facelift procedure that lifts the deeper tissues and not just the skin will provide the longest lasting results possible when performed by an experienced surgeon. Experience and training are not only important for long-lasting results but to prevent unwanted results. We have all seen people who clearly look like they had work done, obvious scars and/or ears that are no longer in their natural position.
As with any plastic surgery, a facelift with Dr. Thompson or Dr. Henstrom is not a cure all. It can’t stop the aging process, obviously. And it can’t overcome skin damage. Some patients believe a facelift will take 20 years off their facial age, but at Utah Facial Plastics we believe that the procedure simply revitalizes the features of your face. Yes, you’ll look younger, but you’ll still look like you. That’s our goal — to perform facelifts that rejuvenate your face, but without making it obvious that you had surgery.
Facelifts at Utah Facial Plastics return tone to your face by tightening the underlying support tissues and muscles. By removing loose skin that has sagged with volume loss and sun damage, we are able to remove jowls, turkey wattles, drooping skin around the eyes, and that overall feeling of facial sagging. We do this without stressing the skin, which keeps the skin from appearing unnaturally stretched. Our comprehensive facelifts seek to address the three areas that contribute to facial aging: the cheeks, the lower face (jowls), and the neck.
It’s also important to note that, despite the name, a facelift does not address the entire face. For the upper third of the face, a brow lift is performed.
Depending on the areas you’re seeking to address, the incision locations can vary somewhat with a facelift. Generally, the incision begins in the hairline adjacent to or a little above the ear. The incision then moves downward behind the cartilage in front of the ear, circles below the earlobe, and extends backward ending in the hairline. To address the neck, it’s important to extend that bottom part of the incision back from the ear.
Any incision leaves a scar, but Dr. Thompson and Dr. Henstrom are very successful in hiding the scars with their facelifts in the hairline and behind the ears. Initially during your recovery, your incision scars will be pink, but this coloration will pass and the scars will turn white and become less and less noticeable. It’s important to keep sun off your incisions during your recovery.
There is a fair amount of discomfort in the first few days of your recovery due to the extensive tissue trauma involved with a facelift. Bruising and swelling may more bothersome than the pain, however. This will pass, but you’ll need a little patience before you’ll be able to accurately see your results. Your skin will feel tight in the face and the neck. You’ll also probably have areas of numbness. This is completely normal, and these can last up to a couple of months. Numbness is simply a result of your facial nerves adjusting to the re-draped skin.
Facelift surgery with the team at Utah Facial Plastics is major surgery, and the risks with any surgery are applicable with a facelift: bleeding, poor incision healing, infection, and reaction to anesthesia. These are specific risks that apply to this procedure:
- Injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary)
- Numbness or tingling around the incision areas (temporary)
- Hair loss at the incision sites
- Skin discoloration (rare but can continue for several months)
- Skin healing issues (more common with smokers)
Unless performed after an accident or trauma, facelift surgery is deemed elective. As such, it is not covered by health insurance.
The peak age for facelift in the US is around 55. Most women seeking full face lift are between the ages of 50-60 and that is a very appropriate age. Certainly based on health we are doing facelifts on patients in their 70’s.
For mini facelifts we are more commonly doing that on patients in their 40’s into early 50’s.
So depending on age there may be a couple of good options for a patients seeking a facelift.
A full facelift is performed under a general anesthetic with a patient completely asleep. Incisions are made from in front of the hairline and ear, all the way on the back side of the ear and into the posterior hairline. A majority of the time we also include an incision under the chin for better access into the neck. Facial and neck tissues are elevated in a way to release them from deeper attachments and allow them to be lifted and supported in a superior direction. Permanent sutures are then placed in the elevated deeper muscles layers of the face to lift and suspend. The strength of the lift is truly in lifting the deeper tissues and placing the tension on that tissue. Excess skin is then excised all around the incision and the incision is closed with sutures that will be removed over the intervening 7-10 days. We typically use 2 drains under the skin to help evacuate any excess fluid from under the tissues and help prevent a hematoma.
Full facelift recovery will take a few weeks (typically sometime between 2-3) before a patient feels truly “restaurant ready” where they can feel good and not self-conscious going into a public situation. Most of our patients will elect to spend their first night after surgery in our hospital (for a nominal fee). The following morning we will check on them, remove the full head wrap, and replace it with a modified head wrap to go home with. The drains typically come out on day 3 after surgery, and stitches will start coming our around day 6, with the last ones coming out around day 10. Bruising and swelling will occur. Bruising will be noticeable for at least 2 weeks and if it lasts longer it is usually easily covered with makeup. Swelling of the tissues to some degree may last a couple months, but generally isn’t noticed by other people after the first 2-3 weeks.
A facelift, and the changes that are made are permanent based on the removal of skin, the lifting of the tissues and use of long lasting sutures. However, everybody continues to age, and gravity continues to work on you after surgery. A better way to consider the longevity of a facelift is to think that if we can reset your facial aging clock back 10 years as a result of your facelift (which is common with a full facelift), then even though you age, you should always be younger than your actual age.
Yes you will still look like yourself after a facelift. In fact one of the most common requests we receive from patients is to not look “over done” or “over lifted and fake.” We take pride in helping our patients look like the best version of their younger selves. The advanced techniques and ways we perform facelifts allow for a very healthy and natural way for patients to look their best, only younger.
“I decided to have a facelift primarily due to premature aging; the age I felt inside didn’t match the age that I saw when I looked in the mirror. I looked matronly, and decided my face needed a “reboot”. Dr. Thompson performed a reconstructive surgery on my face in 2007 after I had skin cancer removed. He did an amazing job restoring my face; therefore he was the ONLY doctor I would trust with my face. He specializes in faces, which I feel is very important in selecting a surgeon for a facelift, which is such an intricate and noticeable surgery. In addition to the facelift, I had a neck lift, my eyelids done, liposuction under the chin, and a chin implant to prevent further aging lines from occurring in the future. I also had fillers in my lips and marionette lines. I’m SO pleased with the outcome because it took years off of my face without changing my overall look, and there are no visible scars anywhere. I didn’t want to look any differently, but rather refreshed and younger. My neck and jawline was restored, my eyes look “open”, and I look like a young woman again! I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Scott Thompson for any procedures of the face and neck. He’s exceptionally skilled, ethical, professional, and personable in all interactions. He listens and is honest about outcomes and results.” ~ MC
“After interviewing several plastic surgeons I finally found Dr Henstrom. He was actually recommended to me by a fellow surgeon! I chose him not only for his excellent credentials and expertise but for his warm and engaging personality. He treats his patients with the utmost care, concern and respect. Each patient is special and unique to Dr. Henstrom.” ~ RC
Facelift Surgery Before & Afters with Testimonial
Facelift Resource Guide
- Facelift Testimonial and Review From Utah Facial Plastics
- 16 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting A Facelift
- Where To Go For A Facelift In Utah
- Utah Facial Plastics Combines Fat Grafting with Facelift Surgery For Optimal Results
- “You’re A Caring Doctor & Awesome Surgeon” – Facelift Testimonial
- Get Your Utah Facelift Surgery Right The First Time
- Plastic Surgery Scarring – What To Expect At Thompson Facial Plastics
- Why Quit The Stick Before Plastic Surgery
- How To Choose The Right Plastic Surgeon
- Trust Your Face To A Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon
- The Truth About The Lifestyle Lift
- Facelift FAQ’s
- Does A Facelift Leave Scarring?
- How Long Is Recovery From A Facelift Or Necklift?
- Will My Face Look Pulled And Unnatural After A Facelift?
- Does A Facelift Include The Neck?
- Six Surprising Facts About Facelift Surgery
- How Long Does A Facelift Last?
- Facelift After Weight Loss
- Lakeview Hospital Exceptional For Facelift Surgery
- Reduce Facelift Complications With An Experienced Facelift Surgeon
- How Much Does A Facelift Cost in Utah?
- What Makes A Top Facelift Surgeon in Utah?
- 4 Most Important Factors To Consider When Choosing A Facelift Surgeon