Medically reviewed by Dr. John Rosdeutscher – Written by Sine Thieme
If you’ve been unhappy with deep folds and sagging skin on your face and neck and have decided that facelift surgery is the ideal procedure to rejuvenate your looks, the first step you’ll want to take is choosing a plastic surgeon for your face lift.
Choosing a Cosmetic Surgery Center
The best way to assess a cosmetic surgery center and their plastic surgeon(s) is to schedule an in-person consultation. This allows you to assess the practice and staff to get an idea of whether or not you’d feel comfortable there as a patient. While you don’t need to be in a hospital for your facelift, you will still be in a clinical environment that might make you nervous. It should be professional but also warm and relaxing, with a caring and experienced nursing staff.
Having a personal consultation doesn’t necessarily mean you have to appear in person. In this pandemic year, many doctor’s offices offer the option for a virtual consultation. This opens you up to possibilities for a broader search, as you may be less constrained geographically.
If you do not visit in person, ask if you can do a virtual tour of the clinic.
As you prepare for a facelift consultation, here are some things to look out for:
- Is their staff friendly and knowledgeable when speaking on the phone?
- Are you promptly greeted when walking up to the front desk?
- Do appointments occur close to on time and is everything well organized?
- How friendly are doctor/nurse/medical consultant?
- Are they happy to answer all of your questions and address your concerns without feeling rushed?
If you encounter unfriendly staff members or an inability or unwillingness to answer questions adequately and extensively, it may not be the best fit for you. When you’re planning an elective procedure such as a facelift, you should be excited about it and looking forward to seeing results rather than feeling uncomfortable. Feeling nervous is completely normal, but a good support staff will ease your anxiety and calm you down.
A Word about Free Consultations
When searching for cosmetic surgery and body contouring providers online, you will likely see many “FREE consultations” on offer.
While this sounds like welcome news, it’s important to know what likely makes this possible and to perhaps reconsider. A plastic surgeon is a highly-trained professional whose time is valuable. Providing a 30-minute consultation is time not spent in surgery, so he or she will likely be limited in availability. Providers who offer free consultations often do this by using a medical consultant or sales person. This is totally fine as long as you’re aware you may not actually get to talk to the doctor who will perform your surgery.
I you are charged a consultation fee, you can typically expect to speak with a plastic surgeon. Just make sure you enquire whether this will be the same doctor doing the surgery. Some providers have many doctors on call, meaning you might not get the same one as you met in your consultation. It’s always better to establish a personal connection with your doctor.
Lastly, if a practice does charge a fee for your consultation, they will probably let you apply it towards your procedure should you book it, meaning you won’t have spent any extra money. And if you end up getting several opinions by paying more than one fee, the money is probably well spent if it helps you establish a rapport with a physician you feel comfortable with.
Choosing a Doctor for your Facelift
Plastic surgery is a wide medical field. There are many subspecialties a doctor can focus his or her practice on, and each procedure requires a different skillset. Does the surgeon you are contemplating focus more on body contouring? Breast surgeries? How much experience does he or she have with facial rejuvenation procedures such as surgical and non-surgical face lifts?
Achieving great facelift results requires a keen eye for aesthetics as well as a lot of practice. When choosing a cosmetic surgeon for facelift surgery, it’s important to ensure they have many years of experience performing them.
As we’ve outlined before, there are many different facelift types. Some rely on newer technology that allows for a less-invasive procedure than a decade or so ago. You’ll want a surgeon who has adapted to the latest technology rather than someone who keeps performing the same exact method. Some are less comfortable with constant change and may cling to older technologies that no longer achieve the best outcomes. Today, it is an absolute must for a plastic surgeon who performs face and neck lifts to be well-versed in the latest radio frequency assisted lipolysis technologies such as Renuvion and FaceTite.
Why a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon?
Board-certification is not a prerequisite to performing a facelift or other cosmetic surgery services. Any general surgeon is perfectly qualified, from a legal standpoint, to perform a facelift.
However, board certification by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is an important qualification. It is a rigorous process to become certified: The doctor must complete at least six years of surgical training after medical school, three of which must be residency training in the field of plastic surgery. He or she must pass comprehensive oral and written exams, must have graduated from an accredited medical school, and must attend and pass continuing medical education each year – particularly in the field of patient safety.
All this of course does not guarantee that your doctor is an experienced facelift surgeon. However, it can give you a level of comfort to be treated by a professional who puts in the extra effort to stay abreast of the most recent medical developments.
Asking for Examples of the Surgeon’s Work
The plastic surgeon you choose for your procedure should be able to provide you with before and after pictures of their own work, including references and testimonials.
If the surgeon is good at what they do, they should be happy to show you facelift before-and-after photos of their own patients. Make sure you ask for photos of actual (and fairly recent) patients. If a procedure is newer (like the aforementioned radio frequency assisted skin tightening), a surgeon might rely on before and after collections of the equipment manufacturers as it takes time to get back results as well as patients’ permission to use them. They might be newer to the procedure and it does take time to see results and receive good pictures from willing patients. In this case, your surgeon should still be able to provide you with pictures of other work done on the same area.
Before and after pictures also help your plastic surgeon show you how they envision your results. Ask to see their in-office patient “brag book” during your consultation. Many patients do not consent to online posting of their pictures (particularly of the face), but do give permission for in-house photos to be shown privately.
This is also the case for written and video testimonials and reviews. If there are a good number of positive Google reviews, that’s great – but try to read behind the lines to make sure these are genuine reviews. If the reviews actually include some criticism here and there rather than describing the practice in glowing terms, you can be more confident that they are real.
Facility Safety Standards
Whether the procedure is invasive or otherwise, your safety should be the #1 priority at any cosmetic surgery center. Ask your doctor and staff what is done to minimize risks and to ensure that patient safety comes first.
If patient safety and comfort rank high, the practice should be able to give you specific examples. These could relate to the type of technology that is used, which anesthesia methods are employed, and how much attention is paid to cleanliness in the facility. Make sure you also ask for their COVID-19 safety measures.
We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding of what to consider when choosing a plastic surgeon for a face lift. Please contact us if you have any other questions.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons: ASPS Member Qualifications