Facelift surgery is not just about “indiscriminate” skin tightening and pulling. A more important goal is to rejuvenate the face without resulting in stigmata such as overly tight appearance, pulled-up mouth, emotionless face, visible scars, pixie ear deformity in which the ears appear too long, and flat cheeks.
- The “right” certification is the best indicator of a doctor’s training. A good rule of thumb is to select someone certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which demands strict qualifications from its members.
Being a member of reputable plastic surgery affiliates such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery also shows credibility. Take note that all members of these associations are board certified surgeons.
- Experience is a must. Choose a surgeon who performs facelift surgery and its adjunct procedures on a regular basis, allowing him to accumulate knowledge and deeper understanding of the anatomies and their limits.
Because facelift is a highly complex procedure, avoid non-specialists and doctors who have not yet performed the procedure without the supervision of senior fellows (i.e., under fellowship program).
- Hospital privileges and facility accreditations. These “venues” adhere to strict patient care standards, sanitation guidelines, and building codes. They also have qualified and trained staff, including licensed anesthesiologists and nurses.
Outpatient surgical centers only allow surgeons who are board certified to use their facilities, while hospitals have review committees that scrutinize the qualifications of doctors.
- Impressive before-and-after photos. Some experts describe facelift as 25 percent science and 75 percent art because its primary goal is to rejuvenate the face in a way that it looks natural.
Scrutinize the “after” photos of your surgeon and make sure there is no visible scar; facial volume is in the right place; no overly tight appearance or “stretched” mouth, unnatural ear contour, and redundant skin; and the patient should look younger (compared to the “before” pictures) rather than operated on.
- Good reputation. You may ask your primary care physician for recommendations, although asking a friend or family member who had facelift and like its results can be also helpful. Nevertheless, it remains crucial to check a plastic surgeon’s background, particularly his board certifications and affiliations.
You can visit the American Board of Plastic Surgery website to check if your facelift surgeon is “properly” certified.
- Impressive core values. Aside from skills, you should also choose a surgeon based on his core values—e.g., honesty, ethical standards, and trustworthiness.
A good facelift surgeon will discourage or refuse patients he deemed to be poor candidates due to poor healing and other similar condition, unrealistic goals and expectations, emotional and psychological instability, and “weak” facial structures or anatomies.
- Patient safety. A good facelift surgeon will prioritize patient safety above all else, and will not think twice of refusing to perform a surgery on someone who is a poor candidate due to underlying illnesses or unrealistic expectations.
Aside from strict patient selection, a good surgeon knows the importance of month-long preparation, surgical planning, “gentler” techniques to minimize trauma and bleeding, and follow-up care.
- Diligence. During consultation, your surgeon must be able to allay all your concerns and answer your questions in the most honest, accurate manner.
He should also take the time to describe in details your surgery and the possible risks and ways to avoid them.
- Follow-up care. Your surgeon’s responsibility does not end after your actual surgery; he must also monitor your recovery and ensure that you are healing without any problem.
Also, follow-up care must include revisions should you need them. Keep in mind that many surgeons these days perform “touch-up” for free (if they perform the primary surgery), although their patients have to pay for the anesthesia and surgical facility fee.
- Reasonable cost. While you should be wary of surgeons whose asking price is way below the “average” (because most likely there will be some compromises in patient safety), you should not assume that someone who asks for a “ridiculous” price has the best training.
Remember that facelift cost varies considerably depending on the location, techniques and use of adjunct procedures, surgeon’s experience, and other similar factors. As of this writing, the average price is between $8,000 and $20,000.