Do I Need Dermal Fillers Or A Facelift?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on April 18, 2017 3 Comments

facelift vs dermal fillers

Dermal fillers have become extremely popular in recent years due to their ability to accomplish significant facial rejuvenation without the drawbacks of surgery (pain, recovery time, etc.). For older individuals, however, fillers have limitations in terms of both results and efficacy. Facial plastic surgery procedures such as facelift are often the best course of treatment for more advanced aging like deep wrinkles and dramatically loose skin.

So how does a patient know if they will need fillers or a facelift procedure to achieve their desired results?

Snapshot: facelift vs dermal fillers

Dermal Fillers Facelift
Ideal treatment Minor signs of aging Moderate to severe aging
Invasiveness Non-Invasive Surgical
Recovery time None 2-3 weeks to fully recover
Longevity of Results 4-6 months 7 to 10 years
Requires Followup Treatments? Yes No

Dermal filler power

Today there are several types of dermal fillers to address a variety of facial aging issues. Hyaluronic acid (HA) based fillers like Juvederm and Volbella can add instant volume to smooth wrinkles and plump lips. While Voluma can be used to plump thinning cheeks and Restylane is a popular filler to fill in hollow temples.

The results of dermal fillers often last from 4 months to a year. Best of all filler treatments are relatively painless and require little to no downtime (with the exception of some possible bruising or swelling), with many patients getting full filler treatments during their lunch breaks.

Dermal fillers are best used to correct the early signs of aging on younger patients, specifically individuals under 50 years of age. The ideal candidates for fillers are people who experience low degrees of aging including shallow wrinkles, light hollowing (volume loss), and relatively normal skin elasticity. In these instances the regular user of fillers can actually prevent the need for more invasive surgical procedures, especially if the patient begins filler treatments early in the aging process.

Compare today’s best dermal fillers

What fillers cannot accomplish

Unfortunately fillers are unable to adequately address a variety of late-term aging symptoms suffered by older individuals. These include deeper wrinkles and folds, finely etched-in lines (commonly manifesting above the upper lip), vertical neck bands resulting from loose neck skin, and jowl formation.

While many people understandably wish to avoid facelift surgery, using dermal fillers to correct the effects of moderate to severe aging can actually make signs of aging worse. As we age naturally the face begins to suffer from severe tissue laxity and loosening of the skin. Using fillers (rather than surgically tightening the skin) in people with sever tissue laxity can create an unnatural “bloated” appearance where the face lacks normal definition, normal facial expressions become impaired, and facial proportions become distorted.

IG Live: Fillers vs. Facelift

Enter the facelift

A surgical facelift procedure is often the most efficient way to address advanced aging through the manual excision and tightening of loose and sagging skin and underlying muscle. A facelift procedure starts off with several incisions being made around the hairline, past the front of the ears, and under the chin. The surgeon then works to spate the skin from underlying facial muscles. Excess fat is removed and the muscles are tightened as needed. The skin is then pulled and stitched back to the line where the cut was initially made.

While there are several different types of facelift procedures, most facelift techniques can create a dramatic final result, knocking off years of aging.

Unlike fillers, a facelift procedure does require 2-3 weeks of recovery time before people can return to work and normal activity. However, the results of facelift surgery are long lasting. Patients who maintain a stable body weight and strong bone structure will maintain the positive effects of a facelift for 7-10 years.

Procedure Cost

Another obvious consideration among prospective patients is the cost of each procedure. While procedure costs can vary from patient to patient, a facelift procedure is more costly compared to a dermal filler treatment.

It is, however, important to keep in mind that filler treatments are temporary and must be maintained with continuous future treatments. So in terms of total cumulative costs it is possible for a facelift to be cheaper compared to fillers over time.

Consulting a plastic surgeon

The best way to know if you are more ideally suited for fillers or a facelift surgery is to have an in-person consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. Please contact us today to schedule your free consultation!


Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

3 Responses to “Do I Need Dermal Fillers Or A Facelift?”

  1. Avatar Sandra says:

    Thanks for this explanation, i didnt know that fillers can be used to plump lips.

  2. Avatar Dianna says:

    Is there any way I could determine what i need on my own? Maybe some sort of guidelines on whether or not fillers will make a difference (I’m leaning to fillers as I want to avoid surgery).

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Dianna,

      Thank for submitting your comment and asking such a great question. Its very hard for non-trained individuals to determine which course of action is best. Always best to see a board certified plastic surgeon who does both fillers and facelift procedures. It’s the best way to be sure which treatment can yield the desired results the patient is after. And most surgeons offer free consultations (if you are in the Austin area please give us a call!!).

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

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