Is There Really Such Thing as a Nonsurgical Facelift? Facial Plastic Surgeons Debunk Myths Surrounding Nonsurgical Facelifts

Lunchtime lift … Facelift in a Bottle…Liquid Facelift …Non-invasive Facelift… There are dozens of names for devices, creams, and procedures that claim to be alternatives to traditional facelifts. But how do these quick fixes really stack up against the effects of a facelift?

“A facelift is a surgical procedure, and by definition, there is no such thing as a nonsurgical facelift,” says Stephen S. Park, MD, FACS, president of American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “There is a role for many of the techniques and procedures out there, but they should not be considered substitutes for a facelift.”

According to the recent statistics from the AAFPRS, facelifts were the second most common surgical procedure last year, behind rhinoplasty.

Facial aging or the aging face involves skin changes such as wrinkles, brown spots and sun damage; dynamic lines from overactive muscles; loss of volume such as hollow cheeks and temples; the loss of elasticity and the pull of gravity that cause skin to sag. “Most of these so-called nonsurgical facelift alternatives may target one or two of the signs of facial aging, whereas a facelift hits all or most of them,” says Dr. Park.


Whether soft tissue fillers, fat or BOTOX®, injectables can help erase fine lines and wrinkles and add volume to sunken areas of the face.  The result? A younger, more refreshed appearance. “This is not a facelift, but can be very effective at reducing some of the signs of aging on the face,” says Edwin F. Williams, III, MD, president-elect, AAFPRS. “There is also minimal downtime with injectables so you can get back to your life right away, but these treatments will need to repeated about every four to nine months to maintain the results.”

Skin Tightening

Devices that use radiofrequency (RF) energy can help increase the body’s natural collagen production. Collagen is the protein that gives your skin the structure and support associated with youth, but it dwindles with advancing age. “RF devices stimulate collagen production to firm skin,” says Dr. Williams. “Ultrasound waves can also give your collagen supply a turbo boost.” They won’t duplicate the results of a facelift, but they can help improve skin quality, tone and texture for people who are not ready for surgery. “It’s a tradeoff because the results are not as dramatic as a facelift, but the downtime and cost associated are much less,” he says.

Fat Reduction

With advancing age, fat tends to redistribute throughout the face and neck. For example, you lose fat where you need it most, such as the cheeks, and gain fat in places where you may not want it, such as the jowls and neck. Facial plastic surgeons offer several options to remove unwanted fat, including liposuction, fat destruction via radiofrequency, cryolipolysis and ultrasound. “Liposuction can get rid of double chin or a dreaded turkey neck and for some people, that may be enough to make a meaningful difference in their appearance,” says Dr. Park.

Lasers & Lights

Today’s lasers and light-based energy systems can help treat the skin changes associated with aging and many can also help stimulate the production of collagen. “Laser skin resurfacing offers a host of benefits for the aging face and may buy you some time, but even lasers will not replace the visible results of a surgical facelift,” says Dr. Williams. The deeper ablative resurfacing lasers do require some downtime, whereas non-ablative treatments may be repeated at intervals to maintain the skin rejuvenating effects.

To learn more about the AAFPRS or to connect with a facial plastic surgeon, please contact Patty Mathews at