As the largest generation in American history (the Baby Boomers) enters their Golden Years, there has been a marked increase in cosmetic surgical procedures. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, over 84 thousand of them were performed on patients age 65 and older in 2010. For obvious reasons, the single most popular operation was the facelift or rhytidectomy.
What is it?
A facelift typically involves the removal of excess facial skin so that the remaining skin can be pulled tighter, thereby eliminating fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. If done correctly, the procedure is highly effective and can take ten or more years off a patient's face. But turning back the proverbial clock is not without a price. At 8 to 20 thousand dollars a pop, the average rhytidectomy is one of the most expensive cosmetic procedures you can have. It may also be the most painful one.
Removing facial skin and tightening the underlying tissues is incredibly traumatic, which is why recovery times for face lifts are measured in weeks, not days like most cosmetic procedures. On average, complete recovery should take about a month or so. Side effects during the first few weeks include swelling and bruising that can be so severe your family members may not recognize you. Pain can be intense and infections are not at all uncommon. But that's not all!
Some patients lose feeling in their faces for months after the operation and others complain of muscle stiffness or numbness. It can take several months for complete sensation to return to these traumatized areas. Last but not least, the actual scars from the incisions that were made can take up to a year to fade and soften.
Is it worth it?
That's up to the patient, of course. But you should know that a facelift is not a minor surgery. It is extremely expensive and painful and may not deliver the results you desire. This is especially true for older folks, whose skin lacks the elasticity needed to remove wrinkles by stretching and stitching. Oftentimes, these patients end up looking quite different, almost unrecognizable after their surgeries.
Is there a less drastic alternative?
There is no doubt that surgical facelift options are highly effective, but they aren't for everybody. Folks who don't have the time, money, or inclination to go under knife often choose non-surgical options like Thermage facelift. A relatively inexpensive procedure, it has grown increasingly popular with patients of all ages in recent years.
How does it work?
Thermage is a safe, painless cosmetic procedure that uses radio frequency to trick facial skin into producing more collagen, which is a protein that makes skin look younger and healthier. Thermage treatment takes just 45 minutes to an hour and does not require general or local anesthetics of any kind. Sessions can be completed at the doctor's office and recovery time is nearly nonexistent.
A thermage facelift will not take ten years off your appearance like a surgical rhytidectomy can. But you will still look like yourself, only refreshed! Best of all, these treatments are inexpensive, pain free, and can be completed as needed.