People seek facelifts, also known as rhytidectomies, for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes, they experience skin sagging along the cheeks and under the jaws after weight gain followed by rapid or extreme weight loss. A person might also need to add density to their face because it looks too thin. As people age, their skin produces less collagen and underlying tissues become thinner from loss of elasticity and moisture, which causes wrinkles, deep folds, and sagging in spots. A person might also need a facelift after a serious disease or accident causes severe facial asymmetry or functional problems.

Common facelift procedures include non-surgical dermal filler injections, chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing and surgical nose work, jawline rejuvenation, skin and underlying tissue tightening, fat redistribution and removal, facial implants, eyelid lifts, and brow lifts. The goal of the surgeon is to sculpt the face into a more appealing form.

Although thousands of people seek facelift surgeries each year, these common procedures aren’t without risk, which is why it’s critical for a patient to choose the right surgical specialist. Before making a final facelift surgeon selection, consider the following:

Education, Experience, and Credentials

An inexperienced surgeon can destroy a person’s life by performing a simple procedure incorrectly. For this reason, anyone thinking about facelift surgery must research a potential surgeon’s background thoroughly. The surgeon should have both academic and hands-on experience with all procedures that they offer their clients. They should have accreditation through the American Board of Plastic Surgery. It’s also a good sign if they have accreditation with the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery and membership with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The surgeon or their office staff should be able to provide in writing extensive details about the surgeon’s training and professional surgical experiences, including the names of the schools where they studied, the number of years they’ve performed specific procedures and their hospital and other medical facility affiliations.

Patients should also research the accreditation of the facility where the surgeon performs the facelift and the backgrounds of any other medical personnel typically involved with the procedure. For example, the facility should meet credentialing standards set by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), Institute for Medical Quality (IMQ), and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Any anesthesiologists, nurses and other members of the surgical team should also have board certification from appropriate certifying associations. A local facial plastic and reconstruction practice like Thompson Facial Plastics can also help patients learn more about the credentials of surgeons and facilities in Denver.

Stories and Photos of Patients

A plastic surgeon is only as good as proven by their work. The best way to know their work is through written and photo testimonials provided by the surgeon and past patients. Beyond seeking these stories through the doctor and their associated hospital, people should check out reviews on medical review platforms, such as Healthgrades and Vitals. Stories by participants in online forums and support groups specific to a health condition or facelift surgery can also provide unique details that can help a person make an informed choice. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery recommends that anyone interested in facelift surgery use past patient photos compare results based on age, body type, and anatomical correction. For example, a patient should look at the before and after photos of patients of the same gender and age who had similar facial features and concerns. They should also consider if the surgeon’s skills and results remained consistent from patient to patient and over time. A surgeon’s skills can worsen over the years as they age and after any type of accident or illness.

Gut Instinct and Red Flags

When people talk about gut instinct, they’re actually referring to the ability of the human body to use all of its senses and subconsciously recognized information and patterns to understand something that the conscious mind might consider unimportant at first glance. Many people ignore intuition in life, especially when seeking health-related assistance. Some people are so desperate for cosmetic or functional surgical treatment that they excuse disconcerting actions and behaviors. Ignoring the following serious red flags can open a person up to the risk of future harm:

  • Conflicting Reviews: Facilities and surgeons often remove badly written reviews from their websites to make the healthcare system and the surgeon more appealing to potential clients. Any patient testimonials on a facility’s profile page for a specific facelift surgeon or another associated website that differ greatly on average from reviews elsewhere is a huge red flag, especially if the number of negative reviews on those other sites is high.
  • Poor Communication: Miscommunication can mean the difference between a healthy recovery and a deadly one. Examples of communication red flags include one or more members of the surgeon’s front office staff or nurses speaking or behaving in a rude fashion, extremely long hold times on phone calls without apology, severe return call delays, repeated instances of a staff member providing medically inaccurate information and refusal to communicate in writing.
  • Insurance Switchover: When some surgeons start out, they accept a lot of insurance plans for the initial consultation to attract as many potential clients as possible. Patients with some plans are then told by the surgeon or a staff member during or shortly after the consult that the only way they can proceed with treatment is by switching to a different accepted plan. The red flag is when the office staff refuses to confirm in writing before the consultation that the surgeon accepts the patient’s insurance for follow-up appointments and tests.

Impressions During and After First Consult

Lastly, how patients perceive a surgeon matters a great deal. Patients can often tell immediately after they’ve met a surgeon if they’ve made a good choice. Those who have difficulty only need to evaluate how the appointment went and their feelings. A patient is unlikely to receive the best care from a surgeon who seems impatient, lacks active listening skills or rushes the appointment. Additionally, anyone seeking a facelift should ask themselves the following questions when making the decision:

  • Did the experience with the office staff and surgeon create a positive first impression?
  • Was everyone at the practice friendly, helpful, and, especially, the patient?
  • Was the surgeon enthusiastic about answering questions and open to post-consultation ones?
  • Did the surgeon clearly outline the facelift procedure risks and potential complications?
  • Did the surgeon seem overconfident about their abilities or make medically unsound suggestions?
  • Did it seem like the office staff or surgeon tried to sell unnecessary procedures or products?
  • Were all potential fees and payment options provided and explained in detail?

Keep in mind that an initial consultation via phone/video conference can create a negative first impression. The format can cause serious miscommunication because of technical problems. Patients can also have difficulty observing non-verbal body language over video in a teleconference phone app. If the first consultation ends with a bad impression, a follow-up in-person appointment may help a patient gain a clearer picture.

Conclusion

By following the tips outlined in this guide, people who desire facial sculpting can reduce risks associated with picking the wrong facelift surgeon for their procedure, such as unnecessary surgical steps, too little or too many changes, overstretching or over thickening an area of the face and lasting scars. By choosing the right surgeon, patients improve their chance of achieving the results they desire to enjoy for years to come.