Breast implants are apparently less popular these days, but the demand for facelifts has increased by 14 per cent, according to the latest audit figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
Yet last week a research paper, published by the website Jama Facial Plastic Surgery, found that facelifts made people look an average of three years younger than their real age but not necessarily more attractive.
So does this mean you can stop saving up to have one? Or will that mid-life crisis force you to pursue a more youthful look?
Between the age of 40 to 60 the ageing process makes the face and neck sag. The skin gets less elastic, muscles become weaker and gravity pulls it all down. Skin on eyelids develops into folds, wrinkles deepen at the corner of the mouth. The area droops and the jaw line becomes floppy. The angle between the neck and chin become less clearly defined. How quickly this happens depends largely on genes, although smoking and exposure to sun can accelerate the process.
The term facelift covers various procedures. Barry M Jones, a consultant in plastic surgery and former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, does 150 “deep-plane facelifts” a year.
He repositions the soft tissue of the face under the skin layer and lifts the muscles for a more youthful contour. People often want to know how long the effects last and Jones’s research, in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, answers this question by using standardised measuring techniques and a validated rating system.
In this study, 50 people who had hadfacelifts after 2001 had facial measurements taken by a computer, as well as before and after photographs assessed by five independent raters.
The study found that five and a half years after surgery, 76 per cent of people still looked younger than before their facelifts. The neck sagged the most after surgery and the improvement of the angle between the chin and neck seen after the facelift was observed to have reduced in two-thirds of people.
In the hands of an experienced surgeon side-effects should be rare, but a list of possible consequences from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons includes skin discolouration and sensation loss. The “wind tunnel” look of wide eyes and mouth should not occur with a good surgeon.
The audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Surgeons shows its members only carried out 5,600 face or neck lifts last year. So for most of us, the question of undergoing surgery is answered with a fim “no, thanks”.
Jones says that no one “needs” one and their benefits should not be oversold. Since a facelift can’t turn back the clock or make you more beautiful, it’s surely better to love the face you have and get a more youthful glow the traditional way: good sleep, good diet, and a good deal of skin care.