The 5 Best Cosmetic Surgeon-Approved Face Lift Alternatives

Written by Dr. Allan Wulc
On April 23, 2023

People refer to a “face lift” as something –anything–that rejuvenates you. It’s something that you would achieve by pulling the skin and underlying volumes of your face upward—the type of improvement that you might see if you lay down and look at yourself in the mirror. All the volumes of the face settle in and make you look more like you did in the past.

The procedure that does it is the traditional facelift. This procedure involves incisions around the ear, and a true pickup to counter the effects of gravity– a tightening of the muscles and the skin – improves the jaw line, the cheeks and, when focused on the neck, also tightens the neck and tightens sags. Studies suggest that a complete face lift makes you look 7 to 15 years younger. It’s a great operation that we perform here at W Cosmetic Surgery with great satisfaction—often.

Most people try to do all that they can to avoid a face lift. After all, it’s a surgical procedure with incisions, high expenses and downtime with the potential of looking like one of the Housewives (of anywhere) on reality TV. Before investing a facelift, you might consider face lift alternative procedures that produce aesthetic benefits. They don’t address the effects of gravity directly but produce other changes – tightening and brightening – that make you look younger.

Here are the procedures I, a board certified surgeon with 20+ years of experience, think are of benefit – along with those that I don’t think work.

What are the best face lift alternatives?

Many of our patients don’t have the time to take off from work or the inclination to have a large incision and to spend the sum of money and be in recuperation for the period that is required for a face lift – in general three weeks. We have several alternatives that we approve and endorse enthusiastically to make you feel younger. Many of these procedures can be performed in the office.

1. Improve your skin.

Improving your skin, its lucency and brilliance, contributes to a youthful face. Remember the flawless skin seen in youth minus the wrinkles and aberrations in color like the blotches and the sun spots? A laser or a deep chemical peel (a Hetter peel) can achieve this. A variety of lasers including fractional C02, erbium and. thulium lasers can have your skin looking amazing in a few sessions.

The procedures are relatively painless and involve 5-7 days of recuperation. We now have a cold Erbium laser, the ULTRACLEAR® , one of the most exciting new lasers on the market that clarifies and offers minimal downtime.

2. Radiofrequency Microneedling.

Energy from radio waves—applied to the skin—can tighten the skin and help reduce sags, jowls and bags. In our office we have two microneedling devices
– the Morpheus8® and the Intracel®.

The energy is delivered by micro-needles which pierce the skin after it has been numbed. Downtime is minimal and the effects are cumulative over time. Three to four treatments are recommended. The tightening that you can see is not as good as a facelift but works well, particularly when sagging is early.

3. Filler

You know how a balloon when it has no air in it looks wrinkly and deflated? Blowing it up produces a rise —the balloon rises in space. Filler injections, especially structurally strong fillers, can be introduced into the face strategically adjacent to the ligaments that have sagged to produce elevation in select cases—especially if you are young and your skin hasn’t lost its elasticity.

The filler lasts in some cases for two years and can be useful for lifting the cheeks and improving a sagging jaw line and even addressing wrinkles in the neck. We actually don’t think you get much of a lift with filler unless you are very very young, when the benefits of a little “push-up” with a filler can conceal the smallest concavities.

4. Renuvion ®

Radiofrequency energy can be introduced under the surface of the skin to produce skin tightening. Procedures such as Facetite® , Thermitight® and Renuvion® all utilize an energy wand under the surface of the skin to produce tightening of the underlying ligaments and to reduce the amount of fat. Each of these procedures can be done in the office utilizing three tiny incisions and local anesthesia only.

We have had experience with Thermitight and currently prefer Renuvion® , which improves wrinkly skin and tightens up the jawline. Downtime is about 7 days with this procedure.

5. The wNatural Micromidface lift TM

Is there a way to lift up your face and tighten the sagging, to make your face more heart shaped that doesn’t involve an incision on the face? Yes there is.

The WNatural Micromidface Lift is a procedure done with incisions in the temple—it is a facelift in the sense that your face is lifted, but with less downtime and a proven longer duration of benefit. The downtime for this procedure is approximately 7 days.

It rejuvenates the upper and middle portion of your face and picks up the jowls. If you go to a mirror and pick up on your cheek, you will see remarkable improvement in the area around your eyes, the cheek and the jowls and even the jawline. This procedure produces exactly that benefit—it’s a pickup of the cheek that improves the look—and it’s without the incisions of a facelift.

Our least favorite face lift alternative

The face lift I don’t agree with is what is referred to as a thread lift. The basic principle is this–threads put in your face lift it and force your skin to manufacture collagen which produces an anti-aging benefit. They are done in the office and, in combination with a bit of filler, you leave the office looking amazing. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Basic principles aside, none of these promises are fulfilled except in the very short term—along the lines of less than 3 months. For a few days you look great, but then, it all reverts back to the way it was. Except now you have the scars created by the threads.

We’ve seen complications of thread lifts. We have had to take them out when the threads were of the permanent type, and have had to fight with scars caused by them when they were absorbable. Why do providers put them in? Is it because they don’t have a more aggressive successful alternative, like surgery? Because they are not surgeons? Because there is a demand for them and clients are just hoping for a magic alternative?

Schedule a Consultation at W Cosmetic Surgery

All of the procedures mentioned produce some benefit and are offered at our office. You can view our results in our before & after gallery or come into the office and view more results in a private consultation focused on your needs. We’ll help you find the perfect procedure (or combination of procedures) to get you to your desired results.

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