Facelift vs. Nonsurgical Treatments: How Do They Compare?

Facelift vs. Nonsurgical Treatments: How Do They Compare?

As evidenced by multiple surveys carried out over a series of years by professional medical associations, cosmetic treatments—both surgical and nonsurgical—are on the rise in the United States. The most popular treatment by far is a minimally invasive injectable form of modified botulinum toxin, with the BOTOX® brand leading the pack to smooth out wrinkles caused by repetitive muscle movement on the forehead and elsewhere. While millions of people are choosing this treatment to help in their efforts to look younger and more rested, it is important to understand what it can and cannot do, especially when compared to a surgical procedure, such as a facelift. Philadelphia-area plastic surgeon Dr. Timothy Greco educates his patients on the options available so they can make the choice most likely to deliver the results they desire.


Surgical Treatments

Surgery offers dramatic results that, in the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon, can still look natural and harmonious. A facelift is designed to address facial contours that have worsened over time. Among other changes, fat thins in some places and seems to collect in larger pockets elsewhere. A loss of skin elasticity leads to sagging and the formation of jowls. By tightening skin that is loose at the neck and jawline, as well as providing a lift for the midface, a plastic surgeon can make the face appear smoother, firmer, and more youthful.

The procedure itself will typically take several hours and involves the use of local anesthetic to dull sensation in the face, and conscious sedation to provide twilight anesthesia.

After surgery, the tissues are held in place with sutures, which create long-lasting results. A facelift does not freeze the face in a more youthful look, but instead acts as to restore a fresher, rested appearance by shifting tissues into positions associated with younger faces.

Because a facelift involves incisions and sutures, it also involves recovery time. Patients will need to plan for healing after their procedure, resting and allowing bruising and swelling to resolve over the course of a couple of weeks. The incision areas will ultimately heal as scars, but usually heal to fine lines and are hidden in natural folds, lines, and creases so as to be unobtrusive.

Though it has the word “face” in it, a facelift does not alter the entire face, but focuses on the cheeks and tissues down to the jawline. A neck lift is incorporated into facelifts, especially since the neck is one of the primary areas where signs of aging first appear. Higher up on the face, an eyelid lift, brow lift, or both may be necessary to address sagging, drooping, and creases on and around the forehead.


Nonsurgical Treatments

Injectables and other nonsurgical cosmetic options tend to offer less dramatic results, though the more subtle changes they produce still have a noticeably positive effect on the face. Some of the most popular treatments are muscle-relaxing botulinum toxin-based injectables, like BOTOX®, and dermal fillers designed to add volume. These treatments can make a face appear smoother and younger, especially when used in combination for maximum effect.

Injections take a short time, making them especially attractive for people with busy schedules. They also require no recuperation or recovery time after, so down time is not a factor that needs to be considered.

Unlike surgery, the effects of nonsurgical treatments are typically temporary. BOTOX® relaxes key muscles to prevent them from pulling skin into furrows and lines, but motion gradually returns and the wrinkles are visible again. Similarly, fillers add volume that smooths out folds, plumps up lips, and can even restore round contours to the cheeks for a more youthful shape that also serves to lift sagging tissue. Patients may choose “maintenance” visits to keep their results.

Injectables can be used all around the face, with specific products offering better results than others in certain regions of the face.

The decision for which is best—surgical or nonsurgical—is up to the patient. Factors affecting the choice include age, skin laxity, desired results, lifestyle, cost, and more. A consultation with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon is an ideal way to get the necessary information and make an informed decision.

To learn more about facelifts, injectables, and more, call Dr. Timothy Greco’s office at (610) 664-8830, or request a complimentary consultation online.