Almost everyone has pulled their skin tighter across the face, while looking in the mirror, to see what they would look like after cosmetic surgery to tighten the skin. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has reported that patients in the United States spent almost 1.9-billion dollars on facelift surgery in 2020. A facelift was the third most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in 2020 (behind rhinoplasty and eyelid surgery) with 234,374 procedures performed last year. The average cost of a facelift is anywhere from $6000-$12,000 which has caused some potential facelift patients to try and find a way to get the same results by performing treatments on the face at home.
It is important to remember that a facelift does more than simply treat the skin on the face. This facial cosmetic surgery also addresses the ligaments of the face which support the jawline, cheek, and neck structures of the face. As a person starts to age, these ligaments can begin to sag which can results in jowls, droopy cheeks and loose fat and skin under the chin (a "turkey neck").
Because of the need to lift these structures back into place using surgical methods, an "at-home facelift" is not a viable option for patients. The ligaments need to be surgically restored to their original position in order to give the patient a tighter and more contoured look that provides a more youthful appearance.
There are micro-current devices that claim to give the face a better look by lifting and tightening the skin. These at-home devices use a low-voltage electric current to stimulate the muscles of the face in order to encourage the production of collagen and elastin. However, there is not much in the way of substantial data or studies that show strong evidence these devices are able to actually promote the tightening of skin.
Even though some patients claim to see results from these devices, it is also possible that the improvement they see in the face comes from the serum they are pairing with the micro-current device. Many of the devices come with a gel primer that includes hyaluronic acid used in fillers to give the skin a fuller and plumper look.
Even if the patient strictly follows the instructions that come with the device, the results usually only last a few days which means they are not going to replace the use of Botox, fillers or a surgical facelift anytime in the near future.
Gua sha stones have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to move the energy flow of the body (the "chi") in order to relive any tension or muscle pain felt by the patient. This treatment has traditionally been performed on the neck and shoulders but facial gua sha (the movement of a contoured stone tool across the skin) has grown in popularity in the United States.
In addition to promote better absorption of topical products into the skin, gua sha is able to increase the flow of blood and reduce the amount of puffiness and inflammation on the face. The massaging motion of gua sha is also able to relive muscles that are tight in the jaw and face which even provides a little bit of a "lifted" look. It is not able to reduce the look of wrinkles or promote the production of collagen.
Instead of spending the money on a micro-current device, many doctors suggest investing in skincare products such as a vitamin-C serum, retinol, or a glycolic acid toner. Other suggestions include a product that contains hyaluronic acid for hydration of the skin and stimulating the production of collagen.
Proper protection from the sun is also important as sun damage can cause the face to sag or droop. Prolonged exposure to the sun can result in an acceleration of collagen loss in the skin. Patients should invest in a proper sunscreen to protect their skin.
The use of makeup can also trick the eye into seeing something that is actually not on the face. The appearance of a lifted cheek can be created by blending a highlighter along the top area of the cheekbone. Then, add some blush immediately underneath the highlighter (on the outer part of the cheekbone). Finally, use matte contour makeup just above the natural hollow of the cheek. The proper use of makeup can mask sagging on the face and create a more youthful look.
No matter what type of treatment a person decides to try at home, they should approach the process with realistic expectations. While almost any patient that is considering a facelift would like to undergo an at-home treatment that didn't involve the need for anesthesia, surgical incisions, needles, and a long-term recovery period, this is not a medical possibility at the moment. Anyone that wants the long-lasting results that come from a facelift will have to undergo a surgical procedure to achieve the desired look to the face.