When you think of the average candidate for a facelift, you probably imagine someone in their mid-to-late fifties with significant wrinkling, sagging, and howling in their face. This isn’t a surprise, since the prevailing perception among the public has been that cosmetic work as seemingly extensive as a facelift is somehow reserved for those who have long since passed their prime, and that non-invasive procedures advertised as easy alternatives to surgery, like Botox injections, Juvederm, and Restylane, are the indisputable go-to for anyone who hasn’t yet crossed fifty.
But recently, the average age of a facelift patient has begun to drop, and not by a narrow margin; women and men alike are eager to completely rejuvenate their appearances as early as a decade before the big 5-0.
“A lot of people, especially those who are genetically predisposed to form jowls and sagging cheeks in early middle age, are realizing that there’s no need to wait so long to reset their appearances,” says Park Avenue facial plastic surgeon Dr Andrew Jacono, a dual-board-certified chief of his field, the top doctor at a plethora of outlets including New Beauty Magazine and Castle Connolly, and perhaps the best mini facelift surgeon in the world. “I routinely have patients in their early-to-mid forties who are unhappy with how their faces have aged and are looking for a more permanent solution than, say, the injectables they’ve been using.”
These aforementioned injections and fillers can only smooth out wrinkles and are temporary, lasting anywhere from six to twelve months, whereas surgery treats larger swaths of underlying facial musculature and can last anywhere from five to fifteen years. Moreover, people who prefer short-term treatment often experience a phenomenon known as “filler fatigue”, a side-effect of frequent and long-term injectable usage that can actually make the face age quicker and more aggressively.
Opting for a facelift instead of Botox is obviously more expensive, but a filler appointment is rarely ever a one-time affair; to maintain your appearance, you may be visiting your doctor as frequently as every six months, and those dollars can easily balloon up to far more than the price of an average nip and tuck.
Perhaps the most intriguing, and even surprising, reason behind the mid-forties facelift’s increasing popularity is the fact that a younger face is a better template to work with. “Generally, someone in their forties will have less laxity in their face than someone in their 50s or 60s,” says Dr. Jacono. The relatively tighter muscle and skin of a younger patient are, therefore, less likely to loosen after surgery compared to the more pliable facial building blocks of older surgical candidates. The best part? Once the surgery’s effects “wear off”, these people will look better than they did when they first went in for their facelift consultation.
Of course, it is just as important to address some of the concerns of the procedure as it is to discuss its benefits. Younger facelift candidates, for example, tend to fret about the noticeability of plastic surgery; what if friends, family members, or peers are able to perceive the changes and pass unwanted judgment? However, in recent years, this worry has been mostly addressed by advances in surgical approaches. A M.A.D.E. (Minimal Access Deep Plane Extended) Lift, for example, a technique pioneered by Dr. Jacono that manipulates the deeper musculature of the face rather than simply lifting the superficial skin and tissues, is often quoted as giving some of the most natural-looking results cosmetic surgery can offer.
“I was self-conscious about how quickly my face was drooping, so I decided to do something about it,” says Samantha, a 45-year-old patient of Dr Jacono’s who underwent surgery a few months ago. “I’m astounded by my results. The improvements are dramatic in every sense of the word, but also natural enough that nobody I know, except for my husband, has noticed I went under the knife. I have, however, gotten a lot of questions about whether I’ve lost weight or changed my hairstyle, which is always very flattering.”
Considering that results so naturally tailored to the patient were as unthinkable as they were unachievable just twenty years ago when the average facelift patient suffered a tighter, more “doctored” appearance, it must be refreshing for today’s surgical candidates to see that plastic surgeons are employing ever-bettering techniques. It’s also a testament to the fact that the tight skin and sleek jawlines of youth never truly have to fade—they can be tactfully preserved before age is able to claim them.
“The most important thing my surgery has done is take me from a place where my appearance was always on my mind to a place where it hardly even registers,” says Harold, another patient of Dr. Jacono’s. “My advice to similar people out there? Don’t wait so long. You deserve to love the way you look at any age.”