New & Improved: Facelifts Through the Years

New & Improved: Facelifts Through the Years

Posted on April 10, 2020

New & Improved: Facelifts Through the Years

Facelift surgery has been around for more than 100 years, and with each generation, the results have grown subtler and more natural-looking. The “windswept” look of facelifts past has fallen out of favor, replaced by today’s naturally youthful look — done with such artistry that friends and family members who aren’t in the know often can’t tell what gives your face that new sparkle.

Early Facelifts

Medical historians believe surgeons developed and performed the first facelift between 1901 and 1906, though records are incomplete. From what we can tell, these early facelifts were simple skin excisions: A doctor removed a strip of skin at the edge of the face and pulled the remaining skin tighter to reduce sagging and wrinkles. Advances in reconstructive surgery during World War I pushed the procedure a few steps forward. Facelift surgeons in the 1920s separated the skin from the underlying layer of fat before tightening it, preserving facial volume, and giving somewhat better results. Doctors also refined the placement of incisions to make scarring less visible.

Improvements in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s

The next significant improvements in facelift surgery came in the 1960s and ‘70s when pioneering surgeons began to sculpt the facial tissue below the skin as part of the procedure. At first, in the 1960s, they modified the volume of the fat just beneath the skin. Over time, they began to go deeper, until, by the late 1970s, some began to work on the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which includes the muscles and connective tissue that cover the bones of the face. This milestone marked the first significant change in facelift surgery in 70 years.

By the 1980s, the most advanced plastic surgeons were approaching facelifts from the inside out — lifting and reshaping the underlying facial muscles to provide a younger-looking structure for the smoothed skin on the surface. They also introduced new methods to reshape fat and tighten skin along the jawline for a more complete effect.

This shift to include the underlying SMAS in facelift surgery marked a distinct turning point in facelift results. Skin-only facelifts had required extra tautness, and the stretched results were sometimes all too obvious. Reshaping the foundational musculature of the face required surgeons to remove less skin to provide lift and remove wrinkles. So the results were both more natural-looking and longer-lasting.

Today’s Deep Plane and Volumetric Facelifts

The best plastic surgeons today still resculpt the underlying SMAS as part of a full facelift procedure. They also go even deeper to release the SMAS from the ligaments below them and elevate the facial tissue by resuspending it slightly higher on the face. This “deep-plane” technique gives a naturally younger look to the face, restoring contours that have fallen with age.

Today’s plastic surgeons have other techniques in their toolkits, too, to add volume to areas of the face that have started to sag or become hollow and gaunt-looking. It’s a natural effect of aging to lose volume in our cheeks, for example, or under our eyes. The fullness and softness of our younger faces tend to thin and drift down as we grow older. So the plump cheeks we had at age 18 can become drooping jowls or a hanging chin in our 50s. Today, a facelift can correct these volume changes by including fat transplants or dermal fillers.

The best surgeons now customize your facelift by combining the latest surgical techniques with volumetric procedures to produce subtly beautiful results. And with advances to minimize incisions, reduce bruising, and promote faster recovery, you’ll be able to show off your results without as much downtime.

Learn How Today’s Facelift Can Make You Look Years Younger

Dr. David Kim at Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery has developed an impeccable reputation for stunning, natural-looking facelift results. Contact our practice today at (310) 746-5475 or send an online request to schedule a consultation.

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