New & Improved: Facelifts Through the Years

  • March 23, 2018

In the years since its invention, the facelift has evolved greatly. Although the media and pop culture often portray facelifts as plastic surgery procedures that created artificial-looking faces, the more informed patients of today know that modern techniques have made the facelift one of the most sophisticated procedures available. Where there used to be tight, “windblown” faces, there are now breathtaking, natural-looking results. But how did it get to that level? By exploring the history of the facelift, we can get a sense of how this incredible plastic surgery procedure has emerged as one of the most effective cosmetic procedures.

The Earlier History of the Facelift

Amazingly, some primitive forms of the facelift were being performed as early as the 1900s. The first recorded “true” facelift was performed in 1901 by Eugene von Hollander. His first facelift technique was truly primitive: he first made elliptical incisions near the hairline and the ears, and then simply pulled the excess skin tight. In the subsequent years, a handful of other surgeons followed, with one surgeon, Bourguet, being one of the first to advanced procedure by manipulating the tissues under the skin. Another surgeon, Dr. Joseph Lexer, took the facelift a step further in 1906 by undermining the skin, lifting sagging skin, and tightening it. However, he waited until 1916 to publish his findings.

With the onset of World War I, brutal warfare led to an increased demand in reconstructive surgery. That, combined with the evolution of anesthesia, allowed the facelift to become more respected and accepted in the existing modern medical world of the time. As the years went by, more and more surgical pioneers started to adopt the facelift and plastic surgery as a field started to take off.

Dr. Schmidt is board-certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The board was founded in 1986 to ensure high quality treatment and care for facial plastic and reconstructive surgery patients.

Going Deeper

World War II created a new generation of surgeons with the training to advance the facelift and the passion to create natural-looking outcomes. By the 1960s, plastic surgeons were starting to see the benefits of manipulating the tissues underneath the skin using subdermal dissection. Surgeons found that manipulating only the skin (the early subcutaneous facelift) usually led to unnatural-looking, short term results. The skin-only facelift also put tension on the superficial tissues, causing the scars from the incision to look more prominent.

A revolution was at hand. In 1968, a Swedish cosmetic surgeon named Dr. Skoog changed the world of plastic surgery by manipulating the platysmal muscle of the neck and lower face without detaching the overlying skin. This led to longer-lasting, more natural-looking results.

New Developments

It all changed with the SMAS. In 1976, Drs. Mitz and Peyronie defined a structure called the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), a plane of muscle and connective tissue that sits under the skin. They came up with the concept of manipulating the SMAS for the facelift under the tutelage of French plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Tessier, who technically coined the term “SMAS.”

Manipulating the SMAS quickly became the gold standard in facelift techniques as it allowed for less scarring, longer lasting results, a better contoured jawline, and prevented the tight, “windblown” look that defined older facelifts. By the 1990s, surgeons were combining the SMAS facelift with advanced techniques like fat grafting to address volume loss and sagging skin. To this day, there are countless different variations of the SMAS facelift.

Facelifts for Men

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, up to 131,106 facelift procedures were performed for male patients in 2016—a substantial increase from the year before. Today, we’re seeing a trend of more men seeking facial rejuvenation and undergoing facelifts. As cosmetic surgery increasingly becomes the norm for men, facial plastic surgeons continue to tailor their facelift surgery for men’s unique aesthetic needs.

Despite the increased demand for non-surgical rejuvenation, many facial plastic surgeons maintain that the most effective way to lift sagging skin and jowls is through an impeccably performed facelift.

Facelifts have come a long way since Dr. Hollander first removed a small amount of tissue from a patient’s’ temples. Today, fellowship-trained, Board Certified facial plastic surgeons like Dr. Schmidt have the skills and training to create natural-looking outcomes that can stand the tests of time. Dr. Schmidt is board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, demonstrating his mastery of the field. If you’d like to know about what a modern facelift can do for you, contact Schmidt Facial Plastic Surgery by calling (720)-443-2235.

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