120 Years of Facelift Surgery: From Secret to Sensational

The History of Facelift Surgery

When we look at the beautiful celebrities of today who have publicly discussed their plastic surgery, it’s easy to see how far these cosmetic procedures have come. From millennials like the Kardashian sisters, to ageless beauties like Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Cher, A-listers no longer feel the need to keep their plastic surgery secret.

But many people don’t realize that surgical procedures to enhance appearance or reverse facial aging have been performed for more than a century. In the early 1900’s when surgeons began performing facelift plastic surgery on aristocrats and entertainers, these procedures were kept “top secret”. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that surgeons began to openly discuss plastic surgery techniques and publish articles on their work.

Early 1900s Facelifts

In 1901 – which was still 25 years before most US homes in the U.S. had electric power – the first attempt at a facelift took place in Berlin. Dr. Eugen Holländer removed skin from a Polish aristocrat to lift her cheeks and the corners of her mouth. But there was no attempt to lift the actual underlying structures of the face or mouth. And 15 years later in 1916 the first actual facelift was performed by Dr. Erich Lexer, a German surgeon and former sculptor.

By the 1930s surgeons brought these procedures out of the cloak of secrecy and began to discuss them. However, their patients still kept their procedures very secret. At this time facelift surgery still relied mostly on excision (cutting and removing) of loose, ‘extra’ skin to tighten the face, forehead, and eyelids – but did not attempt to address the deeper structures of the face and neck that lead to appearance of facial aging.

And while plastic surgery techniques have vastly improved in the following 90 years – many of the same skin incisions are still used today that hide the scars within the hair, as well as around and behind the ear.

Mid-Century Facelifts

In the 1960’s and 1970’s a more comprehensive approach to plastic surgery was developed that also addressed the deeper muscles and structure of the face and neck. These new techniques allowed plastic surgeons to correct laxity and sagging of deeper support structures of the face, to restore the neck, jowls, and midface to a more elevated position.

By the 1970s and 1980s the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) facelift technique was widespread. Developed by Dr. Tord Skoog, ‘subfascial dissection’ was used to lift a deeper layer of tissue rather than just the skin to achieve antiaging results. The SMAS technique also involves suturing much deeper tissues for better and longer-lasting results.

Facelifts in the Late 1900s

In the 1900s, facelift pioneer Dr. Tessier continued to refine facial plastic surgery, using coronal incisions to also adjust the eyebrow, upper face, and soft tissues. The concept was to lift the skin over the skeletal structure of the skull for better results than traditional facelift techniques. During that decade, Dr. Sam Hamra developed a deep plane facelift technique, again targeting a lower layer of tissue for optimal outcomes.

Modern Facelift Surgery

Today’s modern facelift techniques address varied aspects of facial aging including not just the skin, but also laxity of the muscles and ligaments in the face, as well as restoring volume to sunken areas of the face that have lost subcutaneous fat (under the skin).

Plastic surgeons still use the SMAS facelift, but often combined with new techniques to restore lost facial volume. Incisions for full facelifts are often still best concealed within the hair and around the ear to hide any scars.

In addition to combining a facelift with fat grafting, a facelift can also be combined with laser or radiofrequency skin resurfacing to address sun damage, pigmentation and fine wrinkles of the top, ‘superficial’ layers of skin.

Advanced facelift surgery techniques remain the ‘gold standard’ for correcting advanced signs of aging – including neck laxity, ‘jowls,’ sagging checks, deep nasolabial folds around the mouth, and descending of the midface.

Mini Facelift Surgery

However, patients who do not need or desire a full face are often good candidates for the newer ‘mini facelift’. This procedure is suitable for patients who have less severe skin laxity and soft tissue sagging on the face. A mini facelift can be performed under general or local anesthesia with sedation and has a faster recovery period than a full facelift.

Top Facelift Surgery | Birmingham, MI

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ali is one of the Birmingham Michigan area’s top facelift surgeons. He has helped hundreds of women and men in Birmingham, the greater Detroit area, and Southeast Michigan look younger and more attractive with facelift surgery! And financing options are also available.

Each facelift surgery is designed for the patient’s specific needs and will address lifting, tightening and rejuvenation of the lower face, as well as the around the eyes and forehead as needed.

If you are considering a facelift, Dr. Ali will offer you a discreet, no pressure consultation in his Birmingham surgical office to explain your options, answer all of your questions, and help you select the facelift procedure that is right for you.

Birmingham Facelift Surgery Consultation: 248-335-7200