Plenty of plastic surgeons pride themselves on using the latest technologies and the most advanced techniques when it comes to facial surgeries. For you as a patient, that’s a good thing, as most plastic surgery procedures have come a long way since the time when they were first invented or performed.
Take the facelift, for example. The stereotypical “done” look often associated with the surgery is a result of the earliest methods used by doctors to lift the face. Early methods focused on superficial tightening, which created a pulled back, taut look.
Over the course of a century, though, the techniques used by surgeons have become more sophisticated. The result is not only a more natural looking result, but also results that last longer.
The Early Years
Not only has the technique used to perform facelift changed considerably since the early years, so have the attitudes about the surgery. In the early 1900s, many of the surgeons who performed facelift, usually in Europe, but also occasionally in the US, did so secretly, in part because they didn’t want competitors discovering their methods and also because the practice hadn’t yet become socially acceptable.
The earliest facelifts were closer in design to what are considered mini facelifts today. During the surgery, a surgeon would make an incision near the ear, then excise some skin before closing the incision. In the 1920s, the technique of using a skin flap was developed.
During a skin flap procedure, the surgeon would pull a large area of skin away from the face. The procedure allowed the surgeon to remove more skin than earlier methods, creating a tighter look. Known as a subcutaneous facelift, the skin-only procedure was the standard until the 1970s.
Things changed for the better in the 70s, in part because surgeons began focusing on the muscle layer beneath the skin and in part because of the discovery of the SMAS – superficial musculoaponeurotic system. Nestled just beneath the skin and above the facial muscle, the SMAS became the focus of certain facelift procedures.
Tightening the SMAS and the skin often meant that the results of the surgery lasted longer, looked better and allowed surgeons to achieve a better correction of the lower part of the face, not just the area near the cheeks.
The Deep Plane Facelift
While the SMAS facelift offered doctors the ability to significantly improve drooping in the chin and jowls, it didn’t do much to help drooping in the mid-face or by the nasolabial folds. In the 1980s and into the 1990s, plastic surgeons began to find that they could go beneath the SMAS, to the deep plane level of the muscle, to lift and rejuvenate the lower part of the face, as well as the mid-face area.
The focus of the deep plane facelift is the muscle. The procedure reduces sagging in the mid-face, which can contribute to deep nasolabial folds. It can also reduce the appearance of jowls or a loose chin.
Facelift Surgery Today
Today’s plastic surgery patients have a number of options when it comes to rejuvenating the face, from the traditional facelift procedure, which is still performed in certain cases, on certain patients, to the more in-depth deep plane facelift.
Depending on your needs, your surgeon may recommend another treatment entirely, such as volumizing fillers or facial implants to restore lost facial volume or a brow lift, to rejuvenate the upper part of the face.
Although there are a range of options available, the facelift remains popular. The number of facelift performed rose 6 percent from 2012 to 2013, up to 133,000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Dr. Michael Schwartz is a double board certified facial plastic surgeon in Palm Beach, FL. If you are interested in learning more about facelift surgery and in seeing if it’s the option for you, contact his practice today for a consultation. To set up an appointment, call 561-228-5888.