When 49-year-old Mel Beard booked a £ 13,000 facelift earlier this year, her friends and family were shocked. Husband Roger said she was crazy about considering surgery before she hit 50. But now, six months after the procedure, she says she wish she had it before.
"I've thought about it and saved since I was 44," the West Sussex official says. "I had been a sun worshiper in my youth and I never realized it could cause wrinkles and sagging skin. Then I fell off and started the perimenopause and the loose skin in my neck and face deteriorated. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. & # 39;
Her results are undeniably amazing. Smooth, slightly plump and yet perfectly natural looking, her face is far removed from the pinched deformities commonly associated with the procedure.
Officer Mel Beard, 49, from West Sussex, pictured on the left before her facelift, and shortly after the procedure, she said she would go under the knife five years earlier. Six months ago she spent £ 13,000 on the operation and claims that she wished he had done it before
But modern facelifts have come a long way since Hollywood Grand Dames such as Joan Rivers went under the knife.
Thanks to new techniques you will hardly notice that most patients have done something.
It is for this reason that the demand for facelifts increased by nearly 10 percent last year, according to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) – despite a general decline in demand for cosmetic surgery.
It is the only procedure that is becoming increasingly popular when the desire for other types of pinching and folding is stable or declining. And according to some top surgeons it can already provide better results in forty years.
The results last longer if the skin is younger
Dr. Dirk Kremer from Harley Street in London, who performed Mel & # 39; s procedure, says his patient group has changed over the past decade. "It used to be women in the 60s and 70s," he says.
"Now three-quarters of my facelift patients are in their late forties or early fifties. I call this time of life the & # 39; facelift forty & # 39 ;. "
Charles Nduka, a plastic surgeon at the Brighton Nuffield hospital, says it's not a sign that younger women are increasingly vain, but rather a "pragmatic career move." "They feel they have a lot to give and don't want to fall victim to old age in the workplace," he says.
These women might be sitting opposite you at the desk – not that you would ever know.
Women who undergo facelifts are getting younger. According to a Harley Street consultant, women in their 60s used to be, now women in their 40s are looking for work to be done
I'm one of them. Last January, 55 years old, I was operated on to rejuvenate my face. From a technical point of view, it was not a complete facelift that tackles the bottom, but a facelifting procedure. I had a "T-Lift" – where the skin is lifted and moved out of the temples – combined with an eyelid and eyebrow lift.
I was on the older side of the patient group – my surgeon told me it is for women in their 40s. I did not want to turn back the clock, but to hold on to what I have as long as possible.
I had a fast recovery time of two weeks, there were no visible scars and I didn't even have to undergo a general anesthetic – the procedure was painless and performed under local anesthesia. I don't see & # 39; redo & # 39; from – just a smooth and clear version of myself.
It may sound shocking to have taken drastic measures. But I did it so safely in the knowledge that the results would last much longer than a catalog of non-surgical procedures – an option that is popular with many women my age.
Dr. Kremer says: "If a facelift is done while the patient's skin is still quite elastic, the results will last longer.
"I am willing to perform a facelift when I think it will benefit the patient, not because of the date on their birth certificate."
Surgery safer than contaminated fillers
But why choose a complete cutting and stitching assignment when there are millions of new-age, minimally invasive alternatives? Thanks to cheaper "tweakments" it is not necessary to go under the knife.
So-called "fluid lifts" – achieved through a series of carefully placed Botox injections and facial fillers – have grown in popularity over the past decade, as have skin tightening treatments with lasers or light technology rather than surgical incisions. Then there are more expensive wire lifts, in which small soluble fibers that contain acid are inserted under the skin and sewn together, resulting in a tighter effect.
Non-surgical treatments account for nine out of ten of all cosmetic surgery procedures and many report positive results. But experts say it is unlikely that they will remedy the most serious signs of aging – loose skin and cheeks around the neck – a common complaint for many middle-aged women.
So-called & # 39; fluid lifts & # 39; – achieved through a series of carefully placed injections of Botox and facial fillers – have grown in popularity over the past decade
As plastic surgeon Dominic Bray explains: "The conventional idea is that only old people have facelifts. & # 39; Going under the knife & # 39; is seen as a last resort. But this excludes younger patients with premature skin aging. If you have a lot of excess skin or soft tissue in the face or neck, the skin must be removed and only surgery will do that. & # 39;
If women with excessive loose skin – usually due to weight loss, sun exposure and smoking – use a lot of injectable fillers instead, they often look unnatural. In the US, the phenomenon is being dubbed by "filler fatigue" by plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Jacono.
He says it causes more women to look for more permanent solutions.
Mr. Jag Chana, cosmetic surgeon at Spire Bushey Hospital in Hertfordshire, whose clientele is primarily women in their forties and fifties, agrees. "Women are tired of going back for top-ups and are increasingly worried about how they look artificial. And there is a limit to what they can do. & # 39;
Mel was one of these disappointed patients. Five years ago she opted for a "liquid lift" of £ 3,000. She says: "It looked great while I was still swollen because my face was full and soft.
& # 39; But when the swelling decreased, the effect was marginal and lasted for three months. I was very disillusioned. & # 39;
Many more concerns are the health risks. Fillers are injected deep under the skin, on top of the bones. If injected incorrectly, they can block blood vessels, causing the skin to die or, in very rare cases, leading to blindness.
The aesthetic industry is not regulated, with little protection from cowboy practitioners – you don't need any qualification to inject fillers. Nearly 1,000 complaints were filed in 2018 about failed non-surgical procedures – twice the number in 2016.
Fillers are injected deep under the skin, on top of the bones. If injected incorrectly, they can block blood vessels, causing the skin to die or even, in very rare cases, leading to blindness
Dominic Bray, who is a medical advisor to the crippling charity Facial Palsy UK, often has to deal with the consequences. & # 39; I once operated on a woman who had previously had wire lifts & # 39 ;, he says. "I found 53 threads around her facial nerves."
Such a complication can lead to long-term facial paralysis.
I also fell victim to the lure of non-surgical treatments.
In 2016, at the age of 53, I had a procedure that used heat to shrink excess skin, hoping to repair my drooping eyelids. The painful procedure left me burned, scabby and swollen for weeks, with red eyelids. After the treatment my eyes looked softer and holder than before.
But unlike new procedures infused with little scientific evidence, surgeons have been performing facelifts for decades.
Former BAAPS president and plastic surgeon Rajiv Grover says: "Facelifts have a proven track record and deliver reliable, long-lasting and natural results."
New techniques for that natural look
Mel and I owe developments in surgical techniques to our natural-looking faces.
Patients are no longer deprived of the ability to express emotions through excessively stretched skin. Nor are they submerged for six months thereafter. Like Dr. Kremer says: "Facelifts are not as invasive as some people think. You need a week or two at home, but patients often take no more than paracetamol for pain relief. & # 39;
Mel & # 39; s procedure, now offered by more and more surgeons, moves weakened fat and muscles instead of tightening the skin.
Known as an SMAS facelift, it takes place under general anesthesia and starts with an incision in the hairline and around the ears.
If women with excessive loose skin – usually due to weight loss, sun exposure and smoking – go to many injectable fillers instead, they often look unnatural
The fibrous skin layer to which the muscles are attached – the SMAS – is eliminated. Subsequently, the fat and the underlying tissue are moved upwards, in a more youthful position.
Mel also chose to tighten the muscular skin in her neck at the same time, using a similar method.
"The face and neck age together, so it makes sense to lift them together," Dr. says. Kremer, who then cuts away excess skin before sewing it back together with discreet stitches, hidden under the hairline.
"I divide the volume in the cheeks over the cheeks and create youthful curves and a heart-shaped face. The mouth, previously turned down and looking sad, becomes flat and the cheeks disappear. & # 39;
This method reverses the effects of aging without changing the face. My surgeon used a similar reform method, where I formed my cheekbones and jawline instead of stretching the skin.
But whatever the surgeon may tell you, it is still a major operation. Serious risks include heavy bleeding, damage to nerve, muscles and blood vessels, and sometimes the shape of the face can change over time.
And there is an additional risk associated with early surgery: you may be tempted to have more.
Tweakment or treatment … and how much it can cost you
Which anti-aging facials are worth the hefty price tag and which, if any, last forever?
FULL FACELIFT (£ 10,000 – £ 15,000)
The most invasive – where incisions extend from the hairline to behind the ears. Neck lift often performed simultaneously, involving a new cut under the chin.
BENEFITS: Long-term results, according to research in approximately three-quarters of patients younger than before surgery.
RISK & # 39; S: Damage to the facial nerves, visible scars.
MINI FACELIFT (£ 2,000 – £ 5,000)
Focuses mainly on the lower surface, the jaw and sometimes the neck.
BENEFITS: Fewer incisions, smaller scar hidden by hairline.
RISK & # 39; S: Effects that do not last as long as a full lift.
LIQUID FACELIFT (£ 800 – £ 900)
Combination of Botox and dermal filler injections, to fill cheeks and lift cheeks.
BENEFITS: Only takes 30 minutes. Almost £ 10,000 cheaper than an operation.
RISK & # 39; S: Allergic reaction, filler may penetrate blood vessels or arteries, causing deformation.
ENERGY BASED TREATMENT (from £ 450 per session)
Heat energy is used to secure the face and neck through a handheld device that is held over the skin. It stimulates the production of collagen and elastin.
BENEFITS: Fast, works for younger patients.
RISK & # 39; S: Multiple sessions needed to see results, some experienced swelling or reddening of the skin within 24 hours of treatment.
WIRE LIFT (from £ 1500)
Small, soluble stitches are inserted under the skin and used to pull the face back and lift it.
BENEFITS: Lasts less than an hour.
RISK & # 39; S: Nerve injury, scars, folds. Effects usually only last a few months.
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