Lunch breaks frequently provide more than just a break from work and time to eat. That valuable hour is often used for oil changes, shopping, errands, and maybe even a short trip to the doctor’s office. But can lunchtime be enough time for a face lift? Significant medical and technological advances have allowed cosmetic surgeons to adapt to a continually growing demand for cosmetic procedures among people who have very little time to spare. A lunchtime face lift, while a nickname, is fairly accurate. Patients are having a same day cosmetic procedure that takes about an hour.
Aging, genetics, gravity, and lifestyle are not always kind to the face. As we get older, collagen breaks down, support structures in the facial tissue become weaker, facial fat—a natural ‘filler’—decreases, and elasticity diminishes. As a result, skin sags, wrinkles appear, the face looks longer, and we look old! Many people want to reduce the facial signs of aging, but may find the expense, recovery time, and invasive nature of a traditional face lift to be prohibitive.
The procedure referred to as the lunch hour lift or weekend face lift is a relatively new, nonsurgical “threadlift” face lift. As a nonsurgical procedure, it offers a less expensive, lower risk, reduced downtime option to the traditional face lift. The results of a lunchtime face lift are seen immediately though the outcome is more subtle than a true surgical face lift procedure.
Lunchtime face lifts are typically performed in the physician’s office or an outpatient center in about an hour. With the minimally invasive, nonsurgical nature of the procedure, only local anesthesia and perhaps an oral anti-anxiety medication are required—patients are awake throughout the procedure. Some cosmetic surgeons may even allow patients to use a mirror to check progress and results and offer comments during the procedure.
Although there are procedure variations, all threadlifts employ a small, permanent thread or suture with barbed edges or ‘teeth’ that lift sagging skin in targeted areas—generally brows, cheeks, jowls, and neck. Placing a thin needle in tiny incisions, the sutures are threaded under the facial tissues and positioned to allow barbs on one end to grip the skin and those on the other end to anchor the lifted skin to underlying facial tissues. The presence of the barbs in these tissues also stimulates collagen production. In an ‘open’ variation of the procedure, physician use instruments inserted under the skin through small incisions to produce raw surfaces that are more likely to hold the threads in place when they are pulled up. The number of sutures required in a lunchtime face lift depends on the number and size of the areas treated and the desired results.
Recovery time, risk, and potential complications are significantly less than is the case for a traditional face lift. Although patients differ and must follow the instructions provided by their physician, pain is typically mild enough to be controlled with nonprescription pain medications such as acetaminophen. Activity is generally limited and the head elevated for at least the first 24 hours. Some swelling and bruising can be expected. Although patients may not be comfortable with their appearance at social events for a week or two following the lunchtime face lift, most can resume normal activities within a week. Potential risks and complications include not achieving the desired improvements, numbness in the treated area (typically subsiding in a few weeks), possible scar tissue, infection, and migration or breaking of sutures. Cases of infections are not frequently seen and can be treated by the physician. In the rare instances when sutures move or break, the issue is easily solved by reinserting sutures in the affected area.
Lunchtime face lifts offer the best results when performed before the signs of aging are more pronounced. Ideal candidates are typically between 35 and 45 years of age and have begun to notice the signs of aging. The procedure may also be used in conjunction with other cosmetic surgery procedures such as brow and neck lifts or to treat some relapse in traditional face lifts or neck lifts.