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Plastic Surgery is invasive and has risks.

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Minimally Invasive vs. Traditional Facelift: Comparing the Pros and Cons

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As we age, losing skin elasticity and having deeper facial lines is natural. If you’re considering ways to turn back the clock, you may have come across the terms minimally invasive facelift and traditional facelift. 

These two procedures offer different approaches to facial rejuvenation, each with its benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s discuss.

What Is A Traditional Facelift?

A traditional facelift, (rhytidectomy), is a surgical procedure designed to address significant signs of ageing in the lower two-thirds of the face and neck. 

It involves carefully planned incisions, usually hidden behind the hairline and around the ear for discreet scarring. 

The surgeon then separates the skin from the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), a deeper layer of facial tissue, and lifts and tightens the SMAS layer, (along with fat repositioning if needed). 

The procedure addresses sagging cheeks, jowls, and jawline. After repositioning, the surgeon removes excess skin for a smooth and taut appearance and carefully closes the incisions with sutures, sometimes supplemented by surgical glue or tapes for additional support.

Pros Of Getting A Traditional Facelift:

  • Dramatic Results: Traditional facelifts offer the most comprehensive correction for moderate-to-severe wrinkles, sagging skin, and jowls. For example, it can smooth out nasolabial folds, and address other areas of low facial volume through fat repositioning or sometimes implants.
  • Long-Lasting: While ageing continues, the results of a traditional facelift can last a decade or longer with good skincare and lifestyle practices. This offers excellent long-term value compared to minimally invasive procedures requiring frequent touching up.
  • Customisable: Your surgeon can tailor the lift to your unique needs by analysing your facial structure and skin laxity. They also focus on your primary concerns, be it sagging jowls or deep wrinkles.
  • Combined Procedures: Facelifts are frequently combined with other procedures to maximise rejuvenation. Some common procedures done together with facelifts include eyelid surgery or blepharoplasty, brow lift, or fat grafting.

Cons Of Getting A Traditional Facelift

  • Invasive Surgery: As a surgical procedure, traditional facelifts require general anaesthesia, meaning you’ll be asleep during the operation. The recovery period is also much longer, as the body needs time to heal from the surgery.
  • Potential Risks: As with any surgery, traditional facelifts have inherent risks, including bleeding and infection, scarring, and numbness and tingling in the treated area. However, these are temporary and resolve over time.
  • Higher Cost: Traditional facelifts are also more expensive than minimally invasive facial rejuvenation procedures. The high cost is due to the procedure’s complexity, operating room fees, surgeon’s qualifications, location, and if combined with other procedures.
  • Downtime: Significant recovery time with restrictions on activity (usually about two weeks). During this time, you’ll need to rest, limit strenuous activities and manage potential swells and bruises.
  • Not Suitable For Everyone: Traditional facelifts deliver the best results for moderate-to-severe signs of facial ageing. Those with minimal sagging skin might not see results that justify the invasiveness and cost. Additionally, certain health conditions might make someone a poor candidate for surgery.

What Is A Minimally Invasive Facelift?

Minimally invasive facelifts refer to a range of alternative and less-invasive procedures compared to the traditional ones. They aim to refresh and rejuvenate the face with subtle-to-moderate improvements rather than dramatic changes possible with surgery.

Minimally invasive facelifts may include small incisions limited to around the ears, which can help minimise visible scarring compared to a full facelift. 

Unlike traditional facelifts, they also use temporary, barbed sutures inserted beneath the skin and acting as anchors. 

Pros Of Getting A Minimally Invasive Facelift

  • Less Invasive: These procedures are typically performed under local anaesthesia or light sedation, avoiding the need for general anaesthesia required for full facelifts.
  • Faster Recovery: Most people can resume activities within a few days to a week. They also experience less bruising and swelling than traditional facelifts.
  • Lower Risk: Without extensive incisions or repositioning of deep tissues, minimally invasive facelifts carry a lower risk of complications like bleeding, infection, or prolonged changes to facial sensation. While any procedure has some risk, it’s reduced compared to surgical options.
  • Lower Cost: Minimally invasive facelifts are more affordable due to the shorter procedure times, the ability to be performed in an office setting rather than an operating room, and using only local anaesthesia or light sedation.
  • Gradual Results: Procedures like thread lifts, dermal fillers for volume and skin resurfacing, the changes develop subtly over time. This allows for a more natural-looking rejuvenation without a sudden, dramatic transformation that might indicate you’ve “had work done”.

Cons Of Getting A Minimally Invasive Facelift

  • Less Dramatic Results: If you have severe facial sagging, deep wrinkles, or prominent jowls minimally invasive techniques might not provide the level of correction you desire.
  • Shorter Duration: The results of minimally invasive facelifts are not as long-lasting as a surgical facelift. Improvements might last from one to five years, depending on the specific techniques used,
  • May Require Multiple Treatments: Some minimally invasive techniques work best in combination to address different aspects of ageing. This can increase the costs and procedures needed to achieve your desired outcome.
  • New Minimally-Invasive Techniques Constantly Emerge: Trends in minimally-invasive facial rejuvenation are constantly evolving. You’ll need to choose a practitioner extensively trained and experienced in these procedures. Their skill will affect the treatment’s safety and outcome.

The best facelift option depends entirely on individual needs, desired results, and overall health status. Consulting with a qualified plastic surgeon like Artiste Plastic Surgery’s Dr Jack Zoumaras is crucial in discussing your goals and achieving your desired facial rejuvenation.

In general, traditional facelifts offer the most comprehensive solution for significant signs of facial ageing. But minimally invasive facelifts are ideal for subtle improvements and a desire for less downtime.

Having some idea of the pros and cons of each facelift type will help you make an informed decision based on your needs and desires.

Disclaimer: At Artiste Plastic Surgery, our Plastic Surgeons led by Dr Jack Zoumaras have been trained to the highest possible degree. All surgery has risks and it is always advised to get a second opinion. Risks are very real and we cannot guarantee any result. Results are illustrated as a guide only. All risks are managed and any need for revision surgery or complications (1-5%) can be managed by our specialist plastic surgeons.

Any statements on how you will feel is based on Level V Evidence:

Level V:  How you will feel after plastic surgery varies between individuals, depending on psychological and physical factors. Our internal research is based on how patients in our practice feel after surgery.

The blogs are not a substitute for a medical consultation and do not form as part of the doctor to patient relationship.


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Artiste Plastic Surgery is an Award Winning Specialist Plastic Surgery practice led by internationally trained Dr. Jack Zoumaras, Plastic Surgeon and Peer Reviewed Face Surgeon

Artiste offers the latest Cosmetic Surgical Procedures of the Face, Breast and Body, inspired from leading centres around the world.


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