Dr. Michael Suzman

Dr. Suzman Plastic Surgeon Q&A: What does a facelift really do?

By: Dr. Michael Suzman



My @Quora answer to What does a face lift really do?




  • A facelift is a broad, somewhat old fashioned term , which describes plastic surgery techniques used to correct significant signs if facial aging.
  • The best candidates for surgery are typically aged 50-70, sometimes younger or older, and have some noticeable loose skin and loss of facial fat volume.
  • The technique requires hiding the incisions around the ears, and often under the chin.  Using anesthesia, the skin is carefully separated from the underlying fat/muscle/soft tissue layer.  The loose deeper tissues (the SMAS layer- supra muscular aponeurotic system, for those who want to know the surgeon's terms). This deeper tissue plane is tightened and elevated using sutures, resulting in a restored neck and jawline contour.  Excess skin is the trimmed to reduce looseness and large wrinkles.



  • Additional maneuvers such as fat grafting to the cheek region, skin resurfacing with chemical peels, microneedling, laser, Botox, and eyelid surgery are typically done at the same time.  Nano fat, also called stromal vascular fraction, uses highly purified fat to reverse skin aging using your body' own natural fat derived growth factors. 
  • Patients are still swollen or bruised for 7-10 days, then start to look and feel better.  In three weeks, most can be out in public without anyone noticing they had surgery, though final softening if the skin and scar fading take months.
  • Results last for years, though aging continues, so some ongoing skin care or office treatments are required. 
  • Risks are more common with less experienced doctors or those with less than 5-6 years of plastic surgery residency training.  Nerve or muscle injury, bleeding, bad scaring or poor aesthetic results are most common risks, though should be relatively unlikely with a skilled plastic surgeon.  Not meeting a patient's expectations of a result can be common, and consulting with a great doctor who can honestly discuss what to expect is key.
  • A facelift is not for everyone, but in the right patient, results are great and patients are delighted.  And NO ONE should notice that they had surgery! Just that they look great.



* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.