Thinking About A Facelift? Start With Realistic Expectations

Thinking About A Facelift? Start With Realistic Expectations

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Even if you've been diligent about applying the creams, serums, gels, powders and potions du jour from the anti-aging skin care aisle, at some point the over-the-counter remedies can't keep turning back the clock. And when the at-home treatments no longer produce the desired result, it's time to consider an appointment at a plastic surgeon.

Many people considering cosmetic procedures for the first time begin not with surgical intervention but injectable treatments, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic or fillers. That strategy works well if you're concerned about fine lines, or early signs of aging. But the nonsurgical approach — which can also include laser skin rejuvenation, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion — can't really address the changes that occur when tissue and muscle begin giving way to gravity's tug.

Worries about looking like you've had "work done" after getting a facelift are easily solved by choosing an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon.

"Today's methods focus more on deeper structural changes that actually improve the position and quality of facial muscles for a more comprehensive, long-lasting result," says Dr. Mahlon Kerr, a facelift specialist in Austin, TX. "This approach, coupled with very discreet scars that can usually be hidden within the hairline, make the results of today's facelift surgery extremely subtle and quite natural-looking. You won't be completely transformed — you'll simply look like a younger version of yourself."

That brings us to the most important rule if you're considering getting a facelift: Have reasonable expectations. What does that mean? As Dr. Kerr says, "You won't be completely transformed." In other words, you won't look like you're in your 20s again. Many surgeons say a facelift can turn back the clock about 10 years.

Here are some other things to keep in mind as you think about undergoing facial plastic surgery:

There are different types of facelifts: Think about your specific aesthetic goals, so that you can communicate clearly what you want during your consultation. It may surprise you that a traditional facelift doesn't address the upper portion of the face. If you're concerned about your cheeks and eyelids, for example, you should ask about a midface lift and eyelid surgery.

A second surgery: Depending on your age, you may want a follow-up surgery several years later. A person who gets a facelift at 50 may want to refresh her appearance at 65. You will always look younger than your real age after a facelift, but the results do begin to diminish as the aging process continues.

Choosing a surgeon: It's a good idea to consult with more than 1 surgeon, even if you think you've found the right person. Choosing a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is critical, because they undergo more extensive training than surgeons without that certification.

Your motivation: If you're choosing to get a facelift to satisfy someone else, or because you want to change your life, you may well be disappointed with the results. People who are happy with their plastic surgery results — no matter the procedure — are making the decision because it's something they want to do for themselves.

Have a support system in place: Even though many facelift patients are surprised by the smoothness of the recovery, you'll need help completing errands and chores for at least a week or 2. And you may not want to go out socially for up to a month because of residual bruising and swelling, so having friends over may be something you want to plan ahead of time.

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