A vertical facelift is a relatively new form of facial rejuvenation surgery that may offer some patients better results and a quicker recovery than a traditional facelift.
In a traditional facelift, surgeons move skin horizontally, which can cause an unnatural “windswept” look. As the name of the procedure implies, vertical facelifts move skin vertically, providing a smoother appearance. Patients can get a sense of the difference between the procedures by lightly pulling on their facial skin while looking in a mirror — the horizontal lift can result in excessive tightness, while the vertical lift counteracts the aesthetic effects of aging more naturally.
Many of the world’s best facelift surgeons prefer vertical lifts. According to facelift expert Andrew Jacono, “the vertical facelift is the most effective technique to rejuvenate aging changes that are most noticeable around the mouth or perioral region.”
The perioral region — the mouth — shows many of the most noticeable signs of aging. When properly performed, a vertical lift can remove or minimize wrinkles with a relatively low chance of complications. Additionally, vertical lifts use smaller incisions, which generally allows for quicker recovery.
Current research supports the idea that vertical facelifts are a more effective choice for limiting the aesthetic effects of aging. A 2011 study published in The Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that some vertical facelifts yield “superior results in the midface and neck areas, where many short-scar techniques fail.” That research studied the minimal access deep plane extended (MADE) vertical lift, in which surgeons dissect deep-tissue ligaments to allow for more significant vertical movement.
Another study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery found vertical facelifts to offer greater total lifts for four key points than three standard facelift procedures. While that study had a small sample size, the authors noted that a vertical lift “directly counteracts the effects of gravity,” and could offer better results regardless of patient age, weight, sex, or other factors.
All cosmetic surgeries have potential complications, including temporary nerve injuries and hematomas, but vertical procedures minimize the chances of these types of issues. Because surgeons create smaller incisions, recovery times are quicker, and chances of scarring are significantly lower than with traditional procedures.
Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind if you’re considering a vertical facelift:
Most people can get vertical facelifts. As with most other types of rejuvenation procedures, there isn’t an age cutoff for vertical facelifts. If you’re noticing the effects of aging and you’re in relatively good health, you’re a candidate.
The results will last. No facelift technique lasts forever, but most patients will enjoy a refreshed, rejuvenated appearance for up to 15 years before needing a touch-up. Those touch-ups, by the way, are minimally invasive and typically have shorter recovery times than the original facelift.
Take time to allow for a full recovery. You should plan for a14-day recovery period. Most patients will be able to return to work quickly, although exact recovery times vary from case to case. The swelling will be pronounced for the first several days, but this is temporary. Some patients will feel tingling, numbness, or other sensations as their incisions begin to heal.
Your skin will continue to heal after you’ve resumed your normal routine. Some amount of swelling may persist for several weeks. Your skin may feel more sensitive for up to a year, although this type of effect is less common for vertical facelifts than for traditional procedures.
Take care when using skincare products after any facelift. Some products may irritate the skin. Your surgeon will be able to provide a list of product types to avoid. Keep the area around the incisions clean and choose easy-to-chew foods for the first few weeks after the procedure.
Choose a qualified surgeon. Make sure to choose a board-certified surgeon who has experience with vertical lifts. Look at your surgeon’s portfolio and make sure that you understand the limits of the procedure.
Vertical facelifts provide significant benefits, but they’re not for everybody. Some patients may prefer mini facelifts, Botox injections, or other minimally invasive procedures. Discuss your options with your physician before making a decision.
Of course, individuals should discuss possible complications with their surgeons, and patients who undergo vertical lifts should take recovery seriously.
So, given the obvious benefits of vertical facelifts, why do some patients opt for traditional techniques? The simple answer is that there are far more surgeons offering horizontal facelifts. Vertical facelifts are a fairly recent development, so patients may have trouble finding an appropriately qualified doctor.
With that said, vertical lifts offer numerous advantages, and they’re quickly gaining popularity. If you’re thinking about facial rejuvenation surgery, consider contacting a qualified physician to determine whether a vertical facelift would be an appropriate option.