Male vs. Female Facelift: What’s The Difference?

Written by Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS, Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon on April 19, 2018 No Comments

male vs female facelift surgery

According to the most recent annual plastic surgery statistics report conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, rhytidectomy surgery (more commonly referred to as a facelift) was the sixth most popular plastic surgery procedure in 2017 and the third most popular facial plastic surgical procedure (rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty were first and second). A total of 125,697 facelift procedures were performed in the United States according to this survey. Roughly 15% of all facelifts are performed in men, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Patients often ask if the surgical technique for a facelift varies between men and women.  The short answer is yes, facelift procedures are performed slightly differently on men (referred to as “male facelift”) than it is for women (referred to as “female facelift”) for a variety of reasons.

Facial Hair

One of the main differences in terms of facelift techniques used revolves around facial hair. Men typically have more facial hair which may dictate the incision type and position. Surgeons must be very careful to make incisions that will not disrupt follicles and cause excessive scarring where the hair cannot regrow.

For example, incisions must be camouflaged so that even when men wear their hair short, they do not show. The location may vary slightly between men and women. Typically the lift will pull the beard line closer to the ear. When there is a lot of laxity, this may even mean that men will need to shave very close to the front of their ears.

Anatomy Differences

There are also several major anatomical differences between male and female faces:

Women tend to have weaker facial skeletal and ligament structures which makes surgical manipulation easier. During male facelift surgery, the surgeon must be careful to not overly pull the skin or excise too much lax muscle as either function can result in an overly tight appearance.

Males often have heavier or larger faces with thicker skin, especially around the lower face, jaw, and neck areas. For this reason most male facelift procedures have a focus in the lower half of the face. In the neck, male fat tends to be more fibrous, so liposuction may be less effective in removing fat.

Finally, men often have more vascular elements (veins and arteries) compared to women, which can equate to a higher risk of bleeding and scarring post-procedure.

Aesthetic Differences

There is a significant difference in men and women in terms of ideal facial aesthetics. In general, men tend to value sharper and more defined facial features, specifically along the jaw and neck area. Women, in contrast, often seek softer or more delicate facial features.

This means that there are stark differences in desired outcomes between the sexes. In male facelift surgery, the goal is to remodel the face to create a sharp chin, well defined jawline, and contoured neck. Female facelift surgery often involves restoring a natural oval shape and softer, smooth neck line.

Male Facelift Approaches

Mini-lifts simply do not work as well in men. The very limited surgery of a mini-lift often cannot lift enough of a man’s heavier tissue. Also, since the tissues are heavier, more aggressive lifting is often required to get comparable results. The deep plane or extended SMAS flap lifts, which elevate further into the face at a deeper level, are often required to attain the aesthetically most desirable results. These techniques pull the deep tissues of the face and neck without pulling the skin, so the skin never looks pulled and the face looks natural.

Male Facelift Postoperative Care

Since men’s tissues are heavier, they can hold swelling for longer. Longer use of compression dressings and drains is sometimes needed in men. Since men have a higher risk of hematoma, or a collection of blood beneath the skin post op, they must be extra careful to avoid blood thinners like aspirin. Smoking must be strictly avoided for one month before and after surgery. Resumption of exercise may be delayed if swelling is prolonged. One of our experienced facelift surgeons will be able to guide you in your recovery and deal with the unique challenges that male facelifts present.

For more information about facelift surgery, please visit our Facelift page.


Minas Constantinides, MD, FACS

Dr. Minas Constantinides is a board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in Austin, Texas. He is on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) and is a Senior Advisor of the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS).

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