Facelift surgery is not just about lifting the skin and soft tissue of the face; a more important goal is to deliver results that look natural, with no “stigmata” or visible signs of the procedure.
Aside from your surgeon’s credentials—such as his board certifications, plastic surgery affiliations, training, and relevant experience—you should also scrutinize his facelift before and after photos, which will reveal a lot about his artistic skills.
Most surgeons’ who maintain a website also make some of their before and after photos accessible online.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Karan Dhir explains the variables that you should look into when gauging the “after” facelift photos.
- There should be no visible scars. The incisions used in any facelift procedure are within the ear’s contour and/or behind the hairline to hide the scars, although excessive tension on the skin and incorrect direction of pull could lead to scar migration.
- The hairline and side burn should look normal. They should maintain their preoperative appearance before the surgery is considered a success.
Meanwhile, the disappearance or distortion of side bun and lack of hairline “continuity” are telltale signs of the surgery that must be avoided at all cost. Should they appear, you may need to undergo hair transplantation, scar excision surgery, or skin flap rotation.
- The ears in the after photos should maintain their original position and appearance. Pixie ear deformity is arguably one of the most blatant signs of surgery since it appears “pulled” inferiorly.
To correct the pixie ear deformity, the earlobe must be released from the lateral cheek and then reattached in a higher position; it is equally important to use a layered wound closure to eliminate or at least reduce the tension on the skin.
In addition, the ears in the after photos should have no excessive fullness in front of the ear canal, which is generally caused by under-correcting the loose, excess skin.
- The overall result should look balanced. A good facelift should also include the neck to achieve a more rejuvenating effect; failure to address the signs of aging in the lower third of the face will make them appear more obvious.
While facelift does not completely eliminate all the signs of aging, the postop appearance of the jaw line and neck area should appear smoother and tighter than the “before” photos.
- The result should look smooth, not overly tight. Nowadays, skin-only lifts are rarely used because they can lead to “surprised” or windswept appearance, flat cheeks, distorted hairline, and slanted eyes.