As we age, the face loses volume and sags from the effects of gravity. The goals of facelift rejuvenation are to replace lost volume and to provide a lift to facial structures. Historically, surgery was the only option to lift the tissues. Now we have many ways of both addressing the volume deficit and helping to restore tissues to a more natural position using non-surgical modalities.
What is a non-surgical facelift?
A non-surgical facelift, also called a liquid facelift, involves creating the illusion of a facelift without surgery. As a general rule, the results are usually less permanent than a well performed facelift. The benefits are reduced downtime and less upfront cost. There is also less overall risk of complications with this procedure. Some patients are not able to get surgery due to ongoing blood thinners, for example, but may still be able to benefit from some less invasive non-surgical facelift options.
Who is a good candidate for a non-surgical facelift?
A good candidate for a non-surgical facelift is similar to someone seeking a surgical facelift and these signs include:
- Deflated cheeks
- Pronounced nasolabial folds
- Pronounced marionette lines
- Lip corner drooping
- Neck laxity
- Neck fullness (double chin)
What areas of the face are targeted for a non-surgical facelift?
A liquid facelift targets the following facial areas:
- Cheeks (medial and lateral)
- Nasolabial folds
- Marionette lines
- Mouth corners
How is a non-surgical facelift done?
The concept of a non-surgical facelift is to generally use a combination of treatment modalities to restore facial volume and provide some degree of tissue lift. The following are the currently available modalities and how they are used.
Filler is used to restore volume and provide lift. There are off-the-shelf and from the body (autologous) options for filler. The most common types of filler used today are made of hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occuring substance. Examples include Restylane and Juvederm. When injected into different parts of the face it lasts 6 months to 2 years. The best part of hyaluronic acid based fillers is that they are reversible. Popular areas to fill include lateral cheeks (non-surgical cheek lift), nasolabial folds, and along the jawline. Another option is fat transfer, which is taken from one’s own body, processed, and injected into parts of the face. About 40% of the fat survives and can last for many years. Additionally, the stem cells in the fat can help improve skin quality as well. Disadvantages of filler include risk of vascular occlusion and distorting facial proportions if overdone.
Neurotoxins, such as Botox and Jeuveau, can provide tissue lift if used in certain areas. For example, placing it into the DAO, or depressor anguli oris, near the jawline is an excellent way to give a temporary lift to the corners of the mouth. The results can last up to 3-6 months. The exact type of neurotoxin used to achieve the best non-surgical facelift depends on patient and doctor preferences.
Threads are primarily used to lift tissue. Results can last up to one year. Historically threads were made of a permanent material which created many complications. Nowadays, they are made of dissolvable material, same as sutures, and are available in many configurations. They are placed under the skin in a minimally invasive approach and may be a preferred liquid facelift option for some patients.
Kybella (deoxycholic acid) and Coolsculpting are ways to reduce the double chin, refine the jawline, and provide a non-surgical facelift and neck lift. They work by chemically melting fat and destroying fat by cooling, respectively. Numerous sessions are often needed and the results may take many months to show.
An FDA approved device called ultherapy is marketed to lift the skin on the neck and chin. Ultherapy uses microfocused ultrasound to lift and tighten loose skin over time. Some patients find that they lose significant facial fat after treatments. Also, the treatment tends to be painful and is therefore avoided by many providers and patients.
One of the newest methods of non-surgical facelift and neck lift is using various radiofrequency (RF) devices with or without microneedling. Devices such as Thermi, Profound and Facetite use RF energy to heat the layers under the skin in order to encourage the production of more collagen. The skin can then contract and lift. Some of these devices are partially inserted under the skin and others work on the surface only. The degree of applied heat is closely monitored though burns have been reported. Microneedling performed at the same time can also address changes to the skin texture.
Plasma refers to the use of a plasma pen to tighten and lift the skin’s surface. Plasma is a type of gas, and the plasma pen creates an electrical discharge to release this gas onto the skin in a grid-like fashion. Pin-point burn marks initially appear on the skin, however over several weeks start to fade. During this time, the skin in the treated area becomes tighter, therefore resulting in a somewhat raised appearance. Results are temporary but may last for years.
Facial exercises, such as face yoga and face gym, have been touted as a way to tighten, tone, and lift the facial skin. However, there is no strong research to support these claims. Any mechanical lift that happens during these sessions is very short-lived.
The chart below summarizes the main effects of non-surgical facelift modalities on effectively reversing the aging process:
How to prepare for the non-surgical facelift?
There are a few steps you should take before the procedure in order to get the best results. These steps include:
- Avoiding certain medications and supplements that may thin the blood and cause increased bruising, such as:
NSAIDS – ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen
- Vitamin E
- Garlic, Ginger, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo, Black Cohosh
What to expect on the day of the procedure?
Non-surgical facelift is performed with the patient awake. You may be provided with an oral medication to help relax during the procedure. Depending on the exact treatment modality, a topical anesthetic ointment or injectable local anesthetic such as lidocaine may be used to numb the area in preparation for the treatment. Treatment time is anywhere from 10 minutes for simple neurotoxin injections up to 2 hours for certain radiofrequency treatments.
What is the recovery from non-surgical facelift?
Though many offices promise no downtime from any liquid facelifts this is often not the case. Redness, bruising and swelling are possibilities and can last from hours to 2 weeks depending on the type of treatment. Pain is usually mild to moderate and resolves within minutes to days, again depending on the type of the procedure. Applying ice to the treated areas may help with swelling in the first few days.
The benefits of non-surgical facelift are sometimes immediate, as in the case with fillers. Other times, it may take months to see improvement such as with radiofrequency or Kybella. Speak to your doctor before the treatment about the anticipated recovery and when to expect to see the final result. Doing so will put your mind at ease and will allow you to make the best decision possible as to which kind of treatment is right for you.
What are the risks and complications from non-surgical facelift?
The risks and complications of non-surgical facelift depend largely on the exact type of treatment, but can be summarized as:
- Skin damage
- Fat loss
Even though it is “non-surgical,” there is potential for serious complications when dealing with the face. Do not be fooled into thinking that nothing bad can happen. Just as you would consider surgical risks, please consider the real risk of non-surgical facelift when making a treatment decision.
What are the alternatives to non-surgical facelift?
The main alternative to a non-surgical facelift is a surgical facelift or a mini facelift. The trade off is that surgery usually carries more downtime but results in a longer lasting solution. Additionally, surgical facelift surgery has the potential to create a more natural appearance than other options. Cost is another difference in that surgical facelift may be more expensive up front but the added cost of all non-surgical treatments over time may ultimately be as much if not more expensive than a surgical facelift.
Is a non-surgical facelift effective?
A non-surgical facelift can be very effective if the correct procedure, or series of procedures, is selected. No single treatment modality is best. It is all about picking the right combination of treatments that achieves the patient’s goals in the safest way possible. Most doctors do not offer every liquid facelift treatment modality, but an honest doctor will properly explain your options and refer you to someone else if the ideal treatment for you is not available in their office.
What is the cost of non-surgical facelift?
The cost of the procedure varies by treatment type. Below is a table of treatment and cost range of non-surgical facelift in NYC:
Who is the best non-surgical facelift specialist in NYC?
Patients often search for the best, top-rated doctor for non-surgical facelift in NYC. Dr. Gary Linkov is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in NYC specializing in non-surgical and surgical facial aesthetics. Dr. Linkov has taught facial injectables to many other doctors through courses in NYC under the face training centers organization in Chelsea. Dr. Linkov delivers safe, consistent, and natural results to each one of his facial injectable patients. You can view before and after photos of Dr. Linkov’s patients below:
Non-surgical facelift before and after
Non-surgical facelift threads Case 1:
Mint threadlift was used to non-surgically create a natural, lifted neck and submental region. She did not want surgery and was very happy with the results of her non-surgical rejuvenation of the neck and jowls.