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The truth about facelifts

Posted: 7:38 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013

By Anita Mandal, M.D.
Question: I’m wondering if a facelift really works since I’ve heard some of the sagging returns after surgery.

Answer: It is true that the face and neck tissues tend to settle around four to six months after facelift surgery. The degree of settling varies, however. Causes of settling are often beyond the surgeon’s control and include:

  • poor tissue elasticity
  • pull of gravity
  • continued aging

While gravity’s pull always exists, even in your 20s, its more likely to cause visible signs of aging in your 40s and 50s. One reason is that the rate of collagen and elastin regeneration slows down. With age, you have fewer younger, healthier collagen and elastin fibers to keep the tissues tight, so the force of gravity takes over, resulting in face and neck sagging.

Facelift surgery does not improve tissue elasticity. Rather, excess skin and soft tissue is removed with the remaining tissues stitched back. Gravity begins to work on the tissues immediately after surgery, typically giving residual sagging in four to six months. This mild to moderate settling in most patients is due to poor tissue elasticity, which is unchanged after a facelift.

Ultherapy™ can counter the effects of gravity and improve tissue elasticity when used in combination with surgery. Because Ulthera improves the source of the problem, it can prevent or reduce sagging and help maintain the results of surgery for longer periods than surgery alone. A thorough consultation with your Facial Plastic Surgeon can help you decide whether you need surgery, Ultherapy or both.


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