How Long Does A Facelift Last?
Originally published April 3, 2018. Updated November 16, 2021 with additional information
Just as every individual face is different, the results of every facelift performed can vary as well. Many facelift patients can expect to look about a decade younger than their current age, which is a very dramatic result! Given the significant improvements the procedure can provide, along with the time and monetary investments required, it’s a given that many patients want to enjoy their new rejuvenated looks for many years following their procedure.
It is true that the results provided by any facelift procedure can fade over time as the natural aging process will continue post-procedure. That rate of decline, however, is dependent on a number of factors that are both within and outside of a patient’s control.
Why Facelift Results Are Not Permanent
A facelift procedure tightens skin, and sometimes the underlying muscle, to reverse the skin and soft tissue sagging that naturally occurs with age. While many patients enjoy results that last up to 20 years, a facelift will not permanently prevent further aging.
How long your facelift results will last depends upon the type of facelift surgery you had, your age at the time of surgery, and the characteristics of your skin. Skin type is largely based on genetics, but environmental factors such as sun exposure, smoking, diet and exercise also influence skin’s elasticity.
Here are some primary factors that determine how long results may last:
Skin Condition & Genetics
As with nearly anything body-related, our genetics play a key role in maintaining the benefits provided by facelift surgery. Typically, patients who undergo the procedure with darker and healthier skin enjoy longer lasting results compared to individuals who have fairer skin tones or some form of skin damage. Patient age at the time of the procedure can also play a role as patients who undergo facelift surgery before the age of 60 tend to enjoy the benefits for a longer term.
There are a number of different types of facelift techniques that vary in their degree of invasiveness. Typically, the more invasive the technique, the longer the results will last. A full facelift, for example, provides the most dramatic results that can last for up to 15 years post procedure. Less invasive techniques, like mini facelifts or S-lifts, yield more moderate results that typically last from two to six years.
Facelift surgery is often combined with other facial plastic surgery procedures like eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), brow lift, or rhinoplasty. Since these additional procedures enhance other areas of the face, adding them to a facelift procedure results in a more dramatic and longer-lasting end result. The aging process also causes a loss of volume throughout the face. The loss of volume is why the aged look more like a skeleton. I often use the analogy of a pillow and tell patients that the fabric has lost its elasticity and the stuffing has become compacted. A combined approach of removing excess skin and adding some fullness attacks the problem from both directions. Volume enhancement procedures such as fat grafting, fillers, cheek or chin implants can improve overall results.
The lifestyle of the patient, that is their diet, exercise routine, and skin care regimen, can have a significant impact on maintaining results. Patients who generally lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle will typically enjoy their new youthful appearance over a longer period of time.
Finally, the skill level and experience of your plastic surgeon can also play a role in how long facelift results can last. Experienced surgeons who specialize in facelift procedures have the ability to assess patient need and implement specific techniques that ensure the longest lasting results possible.
Surgical Technique and Facelift Longevity
Primarily, it’s the type and technique of your facelift surgery that will dictate how long your facelift results will last.
A skin-only facelift tightens the skin, but has no impact on the deeper layers of soft tissue and muscle. This approach has fallen out of fashion due to the scarring it leaves behind, in addition to the superior longevity of contemporary facelift techniques.
SMAS stands for superficial muscular aponeurotic system. This is a layer of tissue deep underneath the skin which provides a supportive structure for skin. By addressing this layer of tissue, which includes tightening muscle while removing fat and excess skin, an SMAS facelift holds off aging for much longer than the skin-only technique.
A mini facelift utilizes the SMAS technique, but lifts only the lower portion of the face, including the cheeks and jowls. This procedure can be done with just a small incision behind each ear, which reduces recovery time. A mini facelift lasts for approximately 10 years, as areas that were not tightened during the procedure will continue to age and lose elasticity.
A full or traditional facelift addresses the mid and lower portion of the face as well as the neck. Larger, behind-the-ears incisions allow for optimal removal of excess skin and fat for more dramatic results. A full facelift provides the longest lasting results, pausing the clock on aging for 20 years or more.
Tips to make facelift results last longer:
Although aging cannot be stopped, there are some things you can do to slow its speed. Implementing an anti-aging skin-care routine and lifestyle will help you extend your facelift results for longer.
Follow Your Aftercare Plan
Listening to your doctor and carefully following the recommended post-surgical plan will not only improve the results of your facelift, but help your results last longer.
Invest in Anti-Aging Skincare
After your facelift procedure, a consistent anti-aging skincare routine will help maintain your new, youthful look. Ask your doctor about anti-aging products that promote collagen production for improved structural support.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Excessive sun exposure continues to be the primary cause of premature aging. Wearing protective clothing and using a full spectrum sunscreen daily will prevent wrinkling and skin damage.
Chemicals in cigarettes lead to wrinkles and crepey skin, especially around the mouth and lower face. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend quitting in the weeks leading to your procedure. This is a good time to break the habit permanently.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain will alter the look of your facelift results by swelling remaining fat cells in the face. Weight gain can also lead to hormonal changes which make skin more prone to sagging. Committing to a healthy diet and exercise routine is one of the most significant things you can do to maintain your facelift results.
Consider Cosmetic Injectables
Having had facelift surgery doesn’t preclude you from enjoying the benefits of future cosmetic procedures. Years after your facelift, as the signs of aging begin to slowly return, cosmetic injectables can address loss of volume and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Long Lasting Face Lifts
While a facelift will not permanently prevent future aging, today’s facelifts can hold off aging for 10-20 years. Results of a full facelift will last longer than a mini-facelift, as will techniques that address the supportive tissue underneath the skin.
To maintain your youthful look for as long as possible, maintain your body weight with a healthy lifestyle. Commit to an anti-aging skin care routine, and don’t shy away from age-defying procedures such as facials, peels or injectables.