“It is your face, and your choice.”

What do you think of when you hear the term “facelift”? Was your impression of this surgical procedure formed by what you’ve seen on TV or in the tabloids, or by what you see when you look at your eccentric aunt, who had a “facelift” ten years ago? Maybe you worry that a facelift will distort your mouth, stretch back your cheeks or raise your eyebrows.

If so, you’re not alone. Many people are confused about exactly what a facelift is.

Is it a quick procedure someone can get over a weekend? Or is it an “extreme makeover” transformation that makes someone unrecognizable and artificial?

The fact is, a facelift only affects the lower face. If you have a facelift you should see an improved neckline and jaw-line. If the lift is done correctly, your mouth will be unchanged and you won’t have a wind-blown look to your cheeks.

The reason so many folks are confused is because facelifts are often combined with other procedures – cheek implants, cheek lifts, eyelid surgeries and browlifts . So the “facelifts” you see on TV and in magazines are often much more than just facelifts. They are combination procedures that include “add-ons” that affect the core facial appearance.

Facelifts are also described with many marketing terms – mini-lift, rapid recovery lift, quicklift, lifestyle lift, neck lift. It is worth investigating the details of the various surgery options; often you find that they are all are a variation on the same theme. Once you understand this, you can start to evaluate your options. Is a smaller incision worth a possible shorter-lasting neck result? Does three fewer days’ recovery make up for a lift that lasts five fewer years?

In my clinic, most patients choose a deep plane facelift, which includes neck liposuction and suspension of the neck muscles. It is the state-of-the-art facelift, and the five days of additional recovery time is often more than worth the long term result when compared to “quick-result” mini-lifts. Having said that, some patients truly only have five days to recover, and do get good results with mini-lifts. The key is to make sure you are making informed choices so that you will be happy with the results.

Finally, if you are considering a facelift to improve your neck and jaw-line, it makes perfect sense to address other facial concerns at the same time. Eyelid surgeries, browlifts, and even nasal surgery can augment your final result. Discuss all your concerns with your surgeon so you can choose a surgical plan that is right for you. But remember, it’s always okay to just have a facelift and leave all the rest of your face unchanged. After all, it is your face and your choice!