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A question that I’m asked by virtually every patient of mine seeking a face lift is: “How long will my face lift last?”

When you analyze the words closely, the answer would really depend on what one means by “last” mean? Does it mean when there first are noticeable changes in the results over time? Does it refer to the length of time that it would take the face to look like it otherwise it would have looked had it never been operated on? Or, does it mean the time it would take to get back to the patient looked just before having surgery?

As you can see, depending on the intended meaning of the question, the answers can be quite different. Nevertheless, if we consider things in generalities, then some helpful information can derived.

Another issue that has to be considered in being able to provide a useful and informative answer is the effects of a multitude of variables and factors uniquely associated with each person. More precisely, the results of an identical face lift procedure performed on different people would depend on each person’s chronological as well as physiological age, smoking and drinking history, stress, weight and weight fluctuations, health, presence of certain medical issues such as diabetes, genetics and sun exposure.

One must consider the surgical technique and its performance. Different approaches for face lift surgery can yield varying levels of durability of the results. Furthermore, the skill with which a particular technique is performed can positively or adversely affect the long term outcome.

The best plastic surgery research study performed to date which sought answers to how long a face lift lasts was just published in the December 2012 issue of the Plastic and Reconstructive Journal. Conducted in Great Britain, it evaluated both subjective and objective data on 50 patients 5.5 years postoperatively who had undergone a face lift by the same plastic surgeon. Three different face lift techniques were employed on patients ranging in age from 40 to 62, with an average age of 51 years old.

The analysis of the data indicated that at 5.5 years following a face lift, 76% of patients still appeared younger after their procedure than they did prior to it. It was also discovered, though not too surprising, that there was some variability of aging depending on the area analyzed.

This information is somewhat helpful in ways though it does not provide an accurate answer to a specific person. Empirically, we know that patients who are younger, have better skin elasticity and no medical problems can be expected to have longer lasting results compared to considerably older patients who have poor skin elasticity and multiple medical problems.

What general answer do I give my patients regarding this durability issue?

I tell them to expect that at any point in time after surgery they should still look better than if they had never had it at all. This difference here should be greater shorter term but less significant very long term.

For more information on a face lift or other facial cosmetic procedures like a blepharoplasty or forehead lift, please call my office at 480-451-3000. You can also schedule a complimentary consultation with me at that time.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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