To lift or fill the face?
I recently saw a patient who came in because I did a facelift on one of her childhood friends and she liked what she saw: a more youthful look without looking “pulled.” She had a facelift about 7 years ago and feels that it helped a little but the skin of her lower face is “wrinkley” with some excess skin under the neck and cheek folds. She sought out a few opinions of other doctors and the suggestions ranged from fillers to implants to a revision facelift. My first inclination was to suggest another facelift. This would help the jowls and extra skin under her neck. What concerned me is that when listening to this lady, she was more distressed about the way the skin hung around her mouth and narrowing of her cheeks. As a surgeon, facelifts are more interesting and fun for me to perform, plus this patient was basically asking if a revision facelift would be the best solution without specifically stating it. However, I felt that a facelift wouldn’t be the best initial solution for her concerns. I suggested that we first try Sculptra to restore volume to her face and fill out the deflated cheeks and areas around her mouth. A facelift can be performed later to lift the drooping facial skin and muscles.
This is really about deciding priorities. I categorize facial aging into 5 categories: skin changes, dynamic muscle action, loss of volume, gravity and loss of elasticity. Everyone experiences all 5 as they age. It’s more a matter of what should be addressed and in what order. For this patient, I feel it is volume first (high volume fillers with longevity – Sculptra) then combat gravity and loss of elasticity next (facelift).
The face ages in 5 ways: skin, muscle action, volume loss, gravity and loss of elasticity. When the question is to fill or lift the face, both the doctor and patient need to determine the best treatment plan per the patients priorities. Steven J. Pearlman, MD, FACS