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Facelift, Face, Nonsurgical

Do Nonsurgical Facelifts Really Work?

The thought of having facial surgery can be a bit scary and seem extreme. For some patients, there are non-surgical alternatives that can help you achieve the smooth, natural, and healthy look you want. The question is, which of these non-surgical "facelifts" actually work?

Everyone wants to look and feel great for their age, but there's no sense in spending time and money on procedures that offer no real results. There are many non-surgical "facelift" treatments to choose from, and many of them are quality treatments. The trick is fitting the right solution to the right skin condition and desired results.

4 Top Non-Surgical Facial Treatments: Pros and Cons

We always recommend consulting with a qualified professional about the results you desire and the non-surgical alternatives available to you. Dr. Larry Fan has extensive experience using non-surgical facelift treatments and matching the proper treatment to the right need.

It's important to educate yourself on the options that are now available and find out if a treatment will work for you and what risks may be involved. In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of four common non-surgical facial rejuvenation procedures so you can have a better idea of what treatment might be best for you.

1. Energy Based Skin Tightening Treatments

There are devices in medical offices that are used to perform skin-tightening procedures, such as Ultherapy. These devices use a variety of energy types including ultrasound energy (US), radio frequency energy (RF), laser, and infrared light (IR). There are dozens of choices available in the US, and some machines work better than others.

Energy-based skin tightening is a simple, in-office procedure with zero to minimal downtime that costs less than surgery. While some discomfort may be experienced during the procedure, these treatments are mostly comfortable and safe with minimal side effects.

On the flip side, these treatments only provide mild improvement to the target areas, about 10 to 25 percent, with a real risk that there will be no noticeable improvement (up to 25% of patients). This procedure cannot correct significant signs of skin laxity or aging, and the results can't compare to those of a surgical facelift. Getting the best results may require a series of treatments.

It's important to choose a reputable physician that can determine if you are an appropriate candidate for this kind of procedure. The benefits are often oversold by marketing hype and medical spa professionals who do not perform surgery. Your doctor should help you choose the best treatment for your particular needs and give you a realistic idea of what to expect during and after your treatment.

Nonsurgical Skin Tightening Can be a Good Choice:

  • If you have mild to moderate loose skin on your face, neck, arms, or abdomen.
  • If you have residual skin laxity after an operative procedure.
  • If you would like improvement in the quality of your skin.
  • If you are unable or unwilling to undergo a more invasive, surgical procedure to correct skin laxity.

2. Volume Replacement

As you age, you lose volume in your face due to a breakdown of collagen and fat over time. As a result, your skin can sag, and you'll notice more wrinkles, creases, and folds. The goal of replacing the lost volume in your face is to fill in those lines and give you smooth skin.

Injectable dermal fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane, Voluma, and Radiesse, can restore lost facial volume by plumping up the tissues. In properly selected patients, it will lift, fill, and soften deep folds and hollows in areas such as the cheeks, nasolabial folds, tear troughs, lips, and temples. Another option for restoring lost volume in your face is fat transfer, which uses your body's fat to get the desired results.

Volume replacement is a quick, in-office procedure, usually with minimal-to-mild discomfort. It has an excellent safety profile, but patients may experience temporary side effects, like swelling and bruising. It is costs less than surgery and patients have zero-to-minimal downtime. However, the results are not permanent, and will require ongoing maintenance treatments.

No one wants to look overdone after filler injections. Patients can look puffy and unnatural if the procedure isn't performed correctly. The key to avoiding this is to always select a skilled injector. Choose a provider you can trust to know what you need in order achieve natural looking results. You want an injector who will tell you if and when you need skin tightening or lifting while keeping your best interests in mind.

Fillers can produce wonderful results, but they are not sufficient in treating significantly sagging skin without the addition of a lift procedure. Far too many patients end up walking out of medical spas with round, puffy, blown up faces as a result of too much filler injected in pursuit of a wrinkle-free face.

Be sure to have a conversation with your doctor about realistic expectations.

Volume Replacement Can be a Good Choice:

  • If you have lost volume in your face due to aging.
  • If you would like improvement in the quality of your skin.
  • If you are unable or unwilling to undergo a more invasive, surgical procedure to restore lost volume.

3. Resurfacing Procedures

Skin resurfacing procedures are intended to rejuvenate and restore health to the skin. These options also treat a variety of skin conditions such as wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, sun spots, broken capillaries, acne scars, rosacea, and melasma. Properly selected patients can see improvement in the overall texture and appearance of their skin, but results vary depending on individual skin type and response to the treatment.

The most common resurfacing procedures include laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels. Laser skin resurfacing uses light energy to treat a variety of skin conditions by removing thin layers of skin and/or stimulating collagen growth. Chemical peels use a chemical solution to remove the outer surface layers of skin, allowing healthy, new skin to grow in its place.

Resurfacing procedures may be associated with some recovery and downtime depending on the strength of the treatment and the patient's skin type and condition. For optimal results, the patient may require multiple treatments.

Resurfacing procedures require a high degree of skill, knowledge, and experience to administer properly.

Resurfacing Procedures Can be a Good Choice:

  • If your skin is showing signs of aging or sun damage.
  • If you would like improvement in the health and quality of your skin.

4. Neuromodulators (ie. Botox)

Botulinum injections (Botox, Dysport and Xeomin) is a treatment for crow's feet, frown/smile lines, and wrinkles on your forehead due to the muscle action from expressions you make every day. It's a simple procedure associated with minimal discomfort and no downtime, and an excellent safety profile.

This treatment relaxes small, localized facial muscles, causing the unwanted lines to gradually become unnoticeable. The most common areas treated are the "11s" between the eyebrows (glabella), the horizontal lines across the forehead, and crow's feet.

Unfortunately, the results only last about 3-4 months and require ongoing maintenance treatments. If overdone, patients can end up with a "frozen" or unnatural look that everyone hopes to avoid. This is another reason to seek a knowledgeable plastic surgeon who has your best interest in mind.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about the results you desire to see if this option is right for you.

Neuromodulators Can be a Good Choice:

  • If you would like to remove mild to moderate lines and wrinkles.
  • If you are willing to pursue ongoing maintenance treatments.

Getting the Best Non-Surgical Facelift Results

It's important to understand that no facial rejuvenation or facelift treatment works the same for everyone. Just because a non-surgical treatment worked for one person doesn't mean it will give someone else the same results. You should never select a facial procedure based on marketing or promises made on a package.

Whatever results you're looking to achieve, consult a qualified professional. You want to be sure you end up feeling good in your skin and your doctor will be able to confirm if a nonsurgical treatment is a good fit for you. They will also be able to communicate any potential risks associated with each treatment.

If you have any other questions of concerns, feel free to contact us. Dr. Fan has worked with hundreds of happy clients and places a priority on finding the right procedures to fit your unique needs. It's his desire that you look and feel your best!

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About the Author

Dr. Larry Fan is a Harvard educated, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in San Francisco, CA. He is a Master Artist who is known for creating beautiful, stunning, and natural results. Dr. Fan has been named One of America's Top Plastic Surgeons for the past 10 years running and has received several national awards for his work in Plastic Surgery. He has successfully performed more than 10,000 cosmetic procedures of the face, breasts, and body over a 20 year period. Dr Fan has been an invited speaker at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons, and has been featured in national media outlets such as CNN, NBC, and ABC.

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