We’re all chasing the same holy grail. Younger, healthier looking skin that glows with the same vibrancy that we enjoyed in our youth. As we get older, we may start to notice a fine line here, a wrinkle there, and a pocket of sagging skin that was once taut and firm. It can be a source of great distress when the face that greets us when we look in the mirror every morning drifts further and further from the image of ourselves we hold in our mind’s eye.
If this seems achingly familiar, you may have already considered a facelift. This is a surgical procedure (also called a rhytidectomy) where the skin of the face is lifted up and pulled back. It is designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkled and saggy skin particularly on the lower half of the face and neck. However, before you rush into a consultation for a facelift, you should consider the less invasive alternative treatments that are available.
Should I get a facelift?
That’s a decision that only you can make. However, you owe it to yourself to make an informed decision.
While a facelift can deliver results that last for between 5 and 15 years, they also have their caveats. Like any surgery, there is a risk of complications including hair loss around the incision site, bleeding, infections, skin discolouration or a loss of sensation. You will also need to take between 2 and 4 weeks off work while you recover.
A facelift can also be very costly at upwards of £10,000 for a full face and neck lift. Furthermore, follow-up consultations and further care may be necessary, and could also affect the cost of the procedure. Because a rhytidectomy is a cosmetic procedure, it is highly unlikely to be available on the NHS.
At the very least, you should consider the alternatives before opting for a facelift.
Let’s take a closer look at some far less invasive ways to get the results you’re looking for.
What are the best alternatives to a facelift?
New technologies and techniques have enabled many people to get younger, plumper, firmer looking skin without the need for anything as invasive as a facelift. A clinician will be able to guide you through the options available to get the specific results that you’re looking for and help you to make an informed decision that suits your needs, goals and budget.
Here are a few of the options that a clinician may want to discuss with you.
A vampire facelift is a procedure that uses the body’s natural healing power to revitalise your skin. In fact, it’s more accurate to call the procedure a vampire facial rather than a facelift. Unlike a facelift, it is completely non-surgical and only minimally invasive.
What’s more, there are no harmful chemicals introduced into the body. Just a natural healing compound found in your blood called platelet-rich plasma (PRP). PRP is commonly used by athletes to accelerate the healing of tissues damaged by injuries. It is also commonly used to lift and enhance sagging breast tissue and is sometimes even used to treat hair loss.
A blood sample is drawn, which is then spun in a centrifuge. This causes the PRP to bond with other healing compounds found in the blood. The resulting PRP is then injected into key sites in the face. The PRP stimulates the production of healthier new skin cells, as well as stimulating collagen production within the skin. The result is an improvement in skin texture and tone, helping the skin to look younger and healthier.
Because this procedure is so fast with virtually no recovery time necessary, it’s sometimes referred to as a ‘lunch break facelift’. It’s also a relatively affordable option, with treatments starting from £450-£500. The procedure usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes, and you can expect the results to last around 6-12 months.
Thermage FLX is another non-invasive treatment that can yield fast and effective results with none of the recovery time necessitated by surgery. It is a more advanced version of Thermage’s previous comfort pulse technology (CPT).
This treatment uses focused radiofrequency (RF) to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles resulting in younger looking skin. As we get older, we produce less collagen in our skin, causing it to break down and lose its elasticity. Thermage FLX uses radiofrequency to reach the collagen-rich lower layers of your skin and stimulate the production of new collagen, resulting in plumper, younger looking skin with a single treatment. Treatment is also very fast, typically taking between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the affected area.
Results are natural in appearance and can last for up to 2 years. Treatment is usually applied to the face, neck, and eyes but this RF treatment can also be applied to the body. Prices typically start at around £2,000-£3,000 per treatment.
Although Mesotherapy may seem like a brand new treatment, it has actually been around for over half a century. It was developed by the French doctor Michel Pistor and was originally used as a form of pain relief. In recent years, however, it has been rediscovered as a way to reduce the appearance of fine lines of wrinkles and tighten loose skin. It is even effective when employed on the body, and is commonly used for body contouring, and to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Mesotherapy is also sometimes used to lighten pigmented skin and create a more even skin tone.
Mesotherapy is so-called because it uses a very fine needle to inject a combination of nutrients and hormones into the middle layer (mesoderm) of the skin. The injection contains a combination of plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, and hormones such as calcitonin and thyroxin. It works by delivering nutrients to the skin to encourage collagen production and improve circulation to the skin so that it receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay plump and firm.
A single mesotherapy session can cost anywhere between £200 and £700, and you can expect results to last for around 3-5 months.
Botulinum toxin (Botox) is a bacterium that’s commonly found in the natural world, and is even responsible for causing a form of food poisoning (botulism). Fortunately, when administered by a trained professional, Botox can be a safe way to get firmer, younger looking skin.
Injections are administered into the muscle tissue of the face, interrupting nerve signals to stop them from contracting. This is great for smoothing out crow’s feet, expression lines and other wrinkles caused by muscle contractions in the face.
The procedure is very fast, as it usually takes no more than 10-15 minutes to administer the injections. No downtime is necessary and aside from a little redness and bruising around the injection site, side effects are minimal. In some rare cases patients may experience a headache and flu-like symptoms within 24 hours of injection, or temporary dropping of the eyebrows and eyelids. If too much botox is administered, it may result in a frozen facial expression. This is why it’s important to get botox injections from a reputable clinic.
Botox injections cost anywhere between £100 and £350 per treatment. Results will be visible within 2-7 days, and typically last around 3-4 months.
Dermal fillers are injections that are administered to the tissue of the lips and face to cause instant plumping and filling. The injection contains a naturally-occurring substance called hyaluronic acid, which is commonly used in cosmetics. This substance binds to water molecules and is found naturally in the skin, helping it to retain moisture and plumpness.
Injecting hyaluronic acid into the face can reduce the appearance of lined and sagging skin, increasing lost volume. This is a fast and minimally-invasive treatment, usually lasting between 20 and 30 minutes. No recovery time is required, and side effects are minimal. Some may experience temporary redness, swelling, bruising or tenderness at the injection site, but this usually eases after a few days.
Dermal fillers usually cost upwards of £200 per treatment, and results usually last between 6 and 18 months.
A thread lift is a non-surgical procedure that temporarily lifts and tightens the skin of the face and neck. It uses dissolvable PDO (Polydioxanone) threads which are applied to areas of sagging skin. These extremely fine threads are inserted beneath the skin using a cannula, before being pulled back and secured inside the skin. The threads are then trimmed to ensure that they are invisible. Once in place, the threads suspend the skin of the face, resulting in a lifting of sagging skin without the need for surgery.
A thread lift only takes around 30-45 minutes, and results are visible within 14 days. No downtime is necessary, and aside from a little redness and tenderness, side effects are minimal. The threads will remain in place for around 6-12 months before they start to dissolve, and your skin will settle back into its previous position.
A thread lift usually costs around £1,000-£1,500.