Facelift surgery: 8 common questions answered by an expert

Written by: Mr Niall Kirkpatrick
Published: | Updated: 12/04/2019
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Facelifting terminology is confusing. Cutaneous facelift, deep plane facelift, subperiosteal facelift, endoscopic facelift, SMAS facelift, composite facelift, MACS facelift, midface lift, volumetric facelift, browlift, and necklift (to name a few!), present a bewildering choice. Advances in surgical techniques can avoid the unnatural ‘over-pulled’ appearance that is too often seen. Expert plastic surgeon Mr Niall Kirkpatrick answers common questions on different facelift procedures...

Facial Rejuvenation Surgery

It is best to regard ‘Facial Rejuvenation Surgery’ as carefully chosen surgical techniques addressing ageing for each person. Several different techniques may be important to maintain a sense of facial balance, which should result in a fresher, natural and more youthful appearance with well concealed scars. The most common types of facelift are SMAS facelifts.

What are SMAS facelifts?

SMAS stands for Sub-cutaneous Musculo-Aponeurotic System, a layer of facial tissue beneath the skin to which the facial muscles are attached. Many techniques that lift this deeper layer of the face have been described, accounting for many different facelift names. By lifting the SMAS, longer lasting and more natural contours of the face can be achieved.

Cutaneous (Skin only) facelift

The skin is lifted from the underlying tissues of the face and pulled upwards and backwards towards the ears where the scars are hidden. A simple technique with short recovery time but the ageing deeper structures are not treated and rejuvenation is not so long-lasting and distortions of the face can occur.

What is a midface lift?

Baggy lower eyelids and a deep groove along a line between the lower eyelid and the cheek, and a groove between the nose and the corner of the mouth is a concern for many. Midface lifting addresses this problem and restores the youthful continuity between the lower eyelid and cheek. Midface lifts are performed at different levels and are often very rejuvenating but more complex procedures with a longer recovery time.

What is a volumetric facelift?

Some people lose the plump fullness of the face. Volumetric facelifts restore the volume of the face by fat grafting techniques.

What is a neck lift or platysmaplasty?

To help tighten vertical folds in the neck, and restore the angle between the neck and the chin, a procedure known as an anterior platysmaplasty may be appropriate.

What are browlifts, endoscopic browlifts and forehead lifts?

Eyebrows tend to droop, leading to ‘heavy’ and tired looking eyes. Lifting the eyebrows to a youthful position is very effective at rejuvenating the eyes in conjunction with upper eyelid blepharoplasty. Endoscopic or keyhole surgery now allows the eyebrows to be lifted with small incisions hidden within the scalp hair.

What’s the best age to have a facelift and what’s the age limit?

The most common time that people request surgery is in their 40’s and 50’s but there is no specific age limit. Your surgeon should assess your level of fitness for any procedure being considered.

How long does it take to recover from facial rejuvenation surgery?

This depends on what surgery you’ve had and what work you do. In general, it is wise to allow two to four weeks recovery time. It takes longer to recover from deeper plane facelifting and may take up to twelve weeks for all the signs to disappear.

How long does facial rejuvenation surgery last?

Generally, the deeper the level at which a facelift is done, the longer lasting the results which should be many years. However, the more extensive the surgical procedures the longer the recovery time.

Non-Surgical Treatments

A wide variety of non-surgical treatments are available to treat fine lines and skin tone but none can treat the gravitational drooping effects of ageing that can be achieved with surgery.


Mr Niall Kirkpatrick

By Mr Niall Kirkpatrick
Plastic surgery

January 12th 2022
From Top Doctors, we are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Mr Niall Kirkpatrick, a highly esteemed and dedicated Consultant Craniofacial Plastic Surgeon at The Consulting Suite, 84 Harley Street, London, on 9th January 2022.
Mr Kirkpatrick was known as one of the UK's best paediatric surgeons, and was particularly known for his charity work. We have only words of thanks and appreciation for his excellent work, commitment to his patients and we are proud to have collaborated with him at Top Doctors.
Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.

Mr Niall Kirkpatrick is a prestigious consultant craniofacial plastic surgeon located in London. Highly recognised throughout the UK, he is renowned for his specialisation in such techniques as craniofacial reconstruction, craniomaxillofacial trauma and head and neck reconstruction, among many others.

Mr Kirkpatrick qualified in both Medicine (MBBS) and Dentistry (BDS) from Guy’s Hospital and after surgical training and fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons, he went on to train in plastic surgery with fellowships in craniofacial surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, as well as in head and neck surgery at the Royal Marsden Hospital and Aesthetic surgery at the Wellington Hospital.

Mr Kirkpatrick was accredited FRCS(Plast) by the Royal College of Surgeons. Named in The Sunday Times as one of Britain's top children's doctors and in Tatler as best for facelifts, he has done extensive work publishing, lecturing and giving presentations on his techniques both in the UK and abroad. 

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