Dermal fillers and facelifts are both remarkably popular cosmetic treatments. While both of these treatments are intended for a similar outcome—a more youthful, symmetrical facial appearance—they have different applications and may be best utilized during different times of one’s life, or to reach different aesthetic goals. With cosmetic treatments of any kind, there are no hard-and-fast rules to abide by, and this is because everyone’s anatomy and goals are different. The best way to learn more about dermal fillers, facelifts, or any other kind of cosmetic treatment will be by having an in-depth consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon.
What Exactly is a Facelift?
As we naturally age, the skin endures a series of changes over time. Some changes will be the simple result of your biology and genetics, and some will be from environmental influences (e.g., long days in the sun or smoking). One way or another, given enough time, cells begin dividing at a slower rate and tissue within the dermis—the lower layer of the skin—becomes thinner. The free availability of the proteins collagen and elastin will decrease in the body with age, and this results in skin sagging due to gravity, changes in the musculature of the facial anatomy, and of course wrinkles, creases, and lines.
A facelift seeks to correct these completely unavoidable aesthetic issues. A traditional facelift is relatively straightforward: the surgeon will reveal the underlying anatomy of the face through an incision hidden within the hairline and around the creases of the ear. Once exposed, the surgeon can manipulate the tissue underneath. Excess loose skin is removed and the underlying facial musculature is gently tightened, resulting in a natural and more youthful appearance to the face. Many facelift procedures also involve other procedures performed simultaneously, such as a forehead lift, blepharoplasty, or neck lift.
What Are Dermal Fillers?
Dermal fillers refer to the injections utilized in a non-surgical cosmetic treatment intended to rejuvenate the face and give it a more rested appearance. Wrinkles, lines, and creases can be reduced, and volume may be added to restore and enhance the contours of the face. Dermal fillers are available under a variety of trade names such as Restylane® and Juvederm™, each with their own unique set of benefits. Many dermal fillers are gels made of hyaluronic acid – a sugar molecule which is naturally produced by the body.
It’s important to note that dermal fillers are generally not permanent. While it varies from one kind of filler to another—not to mention the unique anatomy of the patient themselves— the results of most filler treatments can be expected to last anywhere from nine to eighteen months.
Is There an Ideal Time for Facelifts or Fillers?
The “ideal” time for any form of cosmetic treatment is highly variable and completely dependent on an individual’s unique aging characteristics. Generally speaking, the only requirement for a patient is that they’re in good physical health. Dermal fillers are frequently utilized by younger people who are not yet ready for a surgical facelift, but this isn’t always the case. There is no “right” age for either style of treatment—it’s a decision that you can make for yourself with the aid and counsel of a qualified plastic surgeon who will discuss the options available to you for your unique set of goals.
While dermal fillers are appropriate for all ages, it is true that as time goes by the lower third of the face becomes increasingly more difficult to treat with dermal fillers. A qualified plastic surgeon will educate you on when it’s time to transition from fillers to a facelift. Dermal fillers will always be useful though—with or without a facelift, as they can act as an excellent means of ongoing maintenance therapy, particularly in the peri-orbital area (the area around the eyes).