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New and Improved: Facelifts Through the Years

A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a plastic surgery that has become popular over the past decades; it aims to decrease the signs of aging in the face and restore a youthful tautness to the skin.  Current facelift techniques allow surgeons to address numerous aspects of the aging process, such as loose or excessive skin, loss of fatty tissue that leads to a “gaunt” appearance in certain areas of the face, sagging tissue along the jawline or “jowls,” and other visible signs of aging. The modern facelift can address these issues with little to no evidence that you’ve had the procedure; it is the result of over a century of development of surgical techniques.  This blog discusses how the procedure has improved over the years.

The First Facelifts

While there is some debate over when the first facelift surgery was performed, most accounts indicate that it was the very early years of the 1900’s, sometime between 1901 and 1906.  At this time, having surgery to improve appearance was taboo, so little was publicized about the first facelifts. The initial surgeries were simple skin excisions, wherein the surgeon made an incision that allowed for excess skin to be cut away and then pulled tighter to be closed.  While this would have addressed loose and sagging skin, there was no effort at this time to change the underlying structures of the fat, connective tissue, or muscle. This has become known as the “skin-only” facelift, and most surgeons no longer use this approach to the procedure.

By the later 1920’s, facelift surgery had progressed based on reconstruction methods developed during WWI.  By changing the incision and lifting the skin off of the underlying fat layer, excess skin could be removed and the skin could be repositioned without reducing the fatty layer, giving better and more natural-looking results. 

Addressing the underlying tissues with a more modern approach: the 1960’s-70’s brings the SMAS facelift  

After 70 years of facelift surgery, surgeons introduced sub-facial dissection techniques, which allowed changes to layers underneath the superficial skin of the face. By sculpting the underlying superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which includes the muscles and connective tissue that lie over the bones of the face, surgeons could rely on more than just tension of the skin to restore the youthfulness of the face. By the 1980’s, this became the standard approach to the facelift.  Additional methods, such as re-sculpting fat and removing skin along the jawline, were also adopted to improve the results of the facelift.

The modern facelift: a volumetric and customized approach  

The most highly-skilled surgeons today still address the SMAS during a facelift procedure.  Additional techniques are also now available, such as autologous fat grafting or the use of synthetic dermal fillers to create youthful fullness in strategic locations, like the cheeks.  The gold standard for the modern facelift combines available techniques in a way that is unique to the natural architecture of each patients face and addresses their individual concerns. When you come in for your individual consultation, your surgeons will develop a customized surgical plan that is likely to include removal of excess skin, changes to the SMAS, and the use of dermal fillers or fat transplants. Still, only you know the right time to get your facelift done

Drawing upon broad expertise and a wide array of available techniques, our highly-skilled facial plastic surgeons will develop your unique facelift surgical plan to give you stunning, natural looking results!

Using the most advanced techniques, our expert facial plastic surgeons can give you full facial rejuvenation through a customized facelift, erasing years from your appearance. Call Connecticut Facial Plastic Surgery at 860.676.2473 or send us a note through our website form to ask your questions about laser hair removal or schedule a consultation.