What? You’re getting a facelift?!

What? You’re getting a facelift?!

By Cooper Scurry, M.D.

Dr. Cooper Scurry, M.D.Though cosmetic surgery may not be for everyone, this does not mean that it should not be for anyone.

When hearing that a friend or family member is either considering or is scheduled for a cosmetic procedure, some folks cringe while others may roll their eyes. However, people cite many reasons for having cosmetic surgery — some that are personal, and some that make pretty good sense. For example, as some folks (male or female) compete in the modern marketplace, seeking a new job or advancement in their career, understandably, they want to look their best. Other folks may have aged more quickly than their sibling, spouse, or child and simply want to look as young as their cohorts. Finally, many people seeking cosmetic facial plastic surgery procedures just want “to look as young, or as good, as they feel.”

The goal of a facelift can be stated in many ways, but most would agree that such a procedure can make a person look 10-15 years younger. A facelift should maintain a person’s unique traits. After a facelift a person should still look like themselves — but they should look like they once did 10-15 years ago. A facelift should leave a person looking very natural. There should not be a pulled or stretched appearance to the face after a facelift. Anatomically speaking, the surgeon’s objectives during a facelift are to put facial tissues “back where they once were” before the aging process allowed them to descend. Particular areas that can be rejuvenated during a facelift include the neck or “turkey gobbler,” the jowls or jaw line, the cheek mound, and the forehead and brows. Certainly, a facelift is NOT a “one size fits all” kind of operation. A facelift should be thought of, prescribed, and performed based on an individual’s interests and aging face changes. Computer imaging software, which can allow a surgeon to edit a patient’s pictures and demonstrate potential surgical results, can help a patient to better visualize the new look. Improving a patient’s ‘chief complaint’ should always be the ultimate goal of any operation.

A surgeon’s expertise is also important in the evaluation of a patient seeking cosmetic surgery. While a patient may think they want upper eyelid surgery (a.k.a. “blepharoplasty”), an experienced surgeon may suggest that an ideal result could be achieved with lifting of the brows in addition to upper eyelid surgery. There are certainly aging face changes that are NOT improved with a facelift.

Certain qualities of the skin, such as discoloration and very fine wrinkles, cannot be fixed by lifting procedures, but can often be improved by other skin procedures or skin care regimens. Other cosmetic procedures, including injectable products, such as Botox and facial fillers, can not achieve the same results as a facelift, but they certainly have a valuable place in today’s facial plastic surgery practice. Unfortunately, these ‘injectables’ are temporary cures for long term problems.

Believe it or not, plastic surgery may not be as expensive as most people expect. Cosmetic surgery is no longer only for the rich and famous. Though some may find cosmetic surgery either vain or frivolous, others do not consider spending money on a facelift any different than buying designer clothes, driving a luxury car, or traveling to an expensive destination. Despite the fact that our bodies and faces will always continue to age, a person who has undergone a facelift will always look years younger than their actual age because a facelift lasts forever.

A facelift should not only achieve an impressive and gratifying result, but having this procedure should be a reasonable process. There should be minimal discomfort. ‘Down-time’ will be approximately 1-2 weeks and it is after about 2 weeks that most folks are again out and about.

After someone has healed from a facelift, it is common for a person to receive an abundance of compliments from people who can’t quite tell exactly why a person now looks so good. When a person who has recently had a facelift prepares for a class reunion or an annual family gathering, they should prepare to answer certain questions… “Wow, you look great… what have you done different? Have you lost weight? Were you just on vacation? What kind of vitamins are you taking?” Certainly, many people enjoy telling their friends and family what they have done, but for plenty of other folks, it remains a delightful secret.

Dr. Scurry is a Winston-Salem native, and a graduate of Reynolds High School, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest’s School of Medicine, Penn State’s Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery residency, and a fellowship in Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and a member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.