Non-Traditional Facelifts–Fact vs. Fantasy

Non-Traditional Facelifts–Fact vs. FantasyThere is a fine line between fact and fantasy when it comes to slowing the aging process.  Deciphering treatments and procedures that make a lasting impact versus techniques that are all hype can be a slippery slope, especially as science continues to advance and pressure to reinvent tried and true procedures remains prevalent in the medical field.  So, how does one go about finding what may be their best option and highest potential for effectiveness in providing long-lasting facial rejuvenation?  The answer…ask a specialist!

There are always new names and gimmicks in the anti-aging game.  Recently, the “Vampire Facelift”, the “Thread Lift”, and the “Stem Cell Lift” have all garnered media coverage claiming to be the latest, greatest, or least disruptive facelift options, but what is really behind these procedures in terms of science and successfully slowing facial aging?  Not a lot.

The “Vampire Facelift” is not actually a facelift at all.  It is an in-office procedure in which blood is taken from the patient receiving the procedure, platelets are removed and “enhanced” by spinning in a centrifuge which creates a gel-like substance called platelet-rich fibrin matrix that is then injected into the face filling in wrinkles and fine lines.  The concept is not unlike that of widely used facial fillers like Juvederm or Restylane, basically making this procedure a volume filler like many others currently in use, but with little scientific basis supporting the claim that the platelet rich component actually serves to produce unique results.

Another non-surgical procedure hyped as a facelift is the “Stem Cell Facelift”.  The process involved in this treatment essentially involves the harvesting of fat from one’s fattier areas (abdomen, buttocks, and thighs) and subsequently transplanting it into the face.  While fat injection is a valid technique to augment lax tissue, trying to separate the stem cells from normal fat to provide enhanced results is a very new and not highly scientifically supported element of this treatment.  The procedure, in theory, encourages the facial skin and fatty layers to produce more of their own cells, thus adding volume and smoothing the face, restoring youthful facial contour; however there is no current credible evidence that separating the stem cells from fat lends any advantage to tried and true fat injection.

A third option for in-office facial rejuvenation is the “Thread Lift”.  Though more widely discussed a few years ago, this treatment is still available and touted as an ideal “lunch-time” procedure due to its incredibly short recovery period.  In this short non-invasive surgery, a surgeon makes tiny incisions in the facial skin, inserts a barbed thread thus gathering loose skin upward and making it appear tighter, and closes the incisions leaving the thread in place.  Over time, the rough thread encourages the growth of collagen in specific places, which then acts as supportive tissue to facial skin.  Due to the fact that this procedure focuses primarily on tightening existing skin and does not address the loss of facial volume as people age, results are often minimal or short-lived.

The bottom line is, that although the media and medical spas continue to push out information regarding facial skin rejuvenation options that are less invasive than traditional facelifts, there is little to no evidence that many of the options available have sustainable results or actual scientific fact and research in support of their claims.  Also, surprisingly, the cost of many of these procedures is equal to or more than actual facial surgery.  Traditional facelifts, or mini-lifts, still provide the most predictable results for those who desire to shave a few years off of their face.  The best way for one to identify the best treatment option for their desired results, is to schedule consultations with several reputable plastic surgeons, and compare the information received.