What You Need to Know Before Considering a Liquid Face-Lift

A liquid face-lift is a nonsurgical, minimally b v invasive cosmetic procedure used to reduce wrinkles and increase the look of fullness in the face. It involves injectables (typically dermal fillers) in combination with Botox.

The procedure is not a replacement for face-lift surgery but is often a choice for people who don't want to undergo surgery or those who may be open to surgery in the future but don't feel they are at that point yet.

This article will discuss a liquid face-lift, options for fillers, the steps of the procedure, costs, risks, results, and how it compares to a surgical face-lift.

Person getting injection with dermal filler into face

MICROGEN IMAGES/ Science Photo Library / Getty Images

What Is a Liquid Face-Lift?

A liquid face-lift uses a combination of injectables to target some of the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and loss of volume.

Typically, a combination of wrinkle reducers and/or dermal fillers are used. A cosmetic surgeon can help you decide which types are right for you.

Common materials and their brand names include:

  • Wrinkle reducers: Botox, Dysport, Xeomin, Jeuveau are all botulinum toxins. They only work with dynamic wrinkles (lines that appear or become more apparent on the movement of the facial muscles, such as frown lines between the eyebrows, active crow's-feet, etc.)
  • Hyaluronic acid-based fillersJuvederm, Restylane, Belotero Balance fill passive wrinkles (lines apparent at rest, but not in motion). They are also used to plump lips.
  • Collagen-boosting fillers: Sculptra is poly-L-lactic acid. It is carried in saline. It requires three to four or more treatments and works by stimulating collagen formation in the person's own tissue. It will last up to three years, unlike other volumizers that will last a little over a year at best.
  • Hydroxyapatite filler: Radiesse is a volumizer. It is an inert material best used for deep nasolabial lines (the line from the corner of the nose to the outer edge of the mouth) and plumping the mid-cheeks and temples.

Dermal fillers work by "plumping up" sunken areas and eliminating dark shadows. Their effects last from six months to over a year.

Wrinkle reducers such as Botox temporarily relax the targeted muscle to smooth out lines. Benefits of Botox last about three months.

Targeted Areas

A liquid face-lift can help:

  • Soften wrinkles, creases, recessed scars, and lines on the forehead, around the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Restore volume in the face, particularly in the temples, under the eyes, in the cheeks, or the lips
  • Address sagging in the brow lines, corner of the mouth, or jawline (jowls)
  • Plump lips
  • Improve facial contouring
  • Decrease shadows

What to Expect From a Liquid Face-Lift Procedure 

A liquid face-lift takes place in steps:

  1. Facial assessment and mapping: With your needs and goals in mind, the cosmetic surgeon will examine your face, including its appearance and skin tone, and decide on the injection sites. These sites may be marked for reference. Photographs may be taken of the areas that will be augmented.
  2. Cleansing: An antibacterial agent will be used to cleanse any area that will be receiving an injection.
  3. Anesthetizing: Anesthetic ointment or the application of a very cold instrument to chill the skin may be used to make the procedure more comfortable. Many of the fillers contain lidocaine (a numbing agent) to minimize discomfort. Local anesthetic injections may be used as nerve blocks, but are not injected into the treatment area.
  4. Injection: Each injection site involves a process of injecting, massaging, evaluating the result, and adding more filler if needed. Typically this process takes a few minutes per site. The total injection procedure can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as an hour, depending on how many areas are being treated.
  5. Clean-up and recovery: Once your cosmetic surgeon has confirmed you are satisfied with your results, any markings will be washed off. An ice pack may be used to reduce swelling and relieve discomfort.

What’s Recovery Like?

Depending on the products used, results may be noticeable immediately. The full benefits of Botox to resolve wrinkles can take one to two weeks. With Sculptra, the final result takes about three months.

Minimal, if any, downtime is needed following the procedure. You can resume your regular activities right away, but you should avoid intense physical activity for the first 24 to 48 hours.

Side effects are usually temporary and mild, but may include:

  • Bruising and/or redness at injection sites
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness, sensitivity, or an itchy feeling
  • An "overfilled" appearance in areas that were treated
  • Temporary numbness
  • Lumps or hard areas that can be felt under the skin at the injection sites
  • A hypersensitivity reaction resembling an allergic reaction (with hives and swelling)

These effects typically resolve on their own within a few days.

Uncommonly, visual disturbances can occur. If this happens, contact your surgeon and get medical care immediately, particularly if it is accompanied by pain or weakness on one side of your body.

Types of Dermal Fillers Used

Several options are available for dermal fillers when having a liquid face-lift. They have different properties, and it is important to go over the details of each type of filler with your cosmetic surgeon before making a decision.

Some options include:

  • Hyaluronic acid: Brand names include Captique, Esthélis, Elevess, Hylaform, Juvederm, Perlane, Prevelle, Puragen, Restylane. It is a natural substance found in high concentrations in soft connective tissues. It is the most common class of fillers, lasts about eight months, and can be reversed.
  • Calcium hydroxyapatite: Brand name Radiesse. It is a mineral-like compound found naturally in human bones. It lasts about 12 to 16 months. It is not reversible.
  • Poly-L-lactic acid: Brand name is Sculptra. It is a synthetic substance that stimulates collagen production, and it lasts up to 24 months. Effects appear gradually and require three to four injections over several visits.
  • Collagen or fat: This is also called soft tissue augmentation. Fat for a fat transfer is taken from the person's own body. It lasts three to 12 months.

What’s the Cost of a Liquid Face-Lift?

The cost of a liquid face-lift depends on factors such as the surgeon's expertise, experience, and qualifications, the materials used, and geographic location.

According to 2020 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average price per syringe is:

  • Calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse): $717
  • Fat grafting: $2,508
  • Hyaluronic acid (Juvederm, Perlane, Restylane, Belotero): $684
  • Polylactic acid (Sculptra): $853

More than one syringe may be needed, and there may be additional fees.

The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery has a search tool you can use to check the range of pricing for cosmetic surgery procedures in your area.

How Long Does a Liquid Face-Lift Last?

The injectables used in a liquid face-lift are not permanent. The longevity of their effects depends on the type used. Anti-wrinkle neuromodulators (Botox) last about three to four months. The lasting effects of dermal fillers range from about six months to as long as two years.

Liquid Face-Lift vs. Traditional (Surgical) Face-Lift

Both surgical and liquid face-lifts have positives and negatives to consider.

Positives of Each Type

Advantages of a surgical face-lift include:

  • It has longer-lasting effects (as long as 10 years).
  • Sagging skin can be trimmed and tightened.
  • It can tighten facial muscles.
  • It can improve facial contours.
  • Its effects are more dramatic.
  • It may cost less money in the long run because results last longer.

Advantages of a liquid face-lift include:

  • Minimal discomfort is felt during and after the procedure.
  • It is less expensive in the short term.
  • No general anesthesia is used.
  • It may look more natural.
  • There is minimal or no recovery time, downtime, or aftercare.
  • Fewer risks are involved.
  • Results are not permanent; hyaluronic acid products, can be reversed.
  • You can give feedback to the surgeon during the procedure.
  • You can "test out" a look before making it permanent with surgery.

Negatives of Each Type

Disadvantages of a surgical face-lift include:

  • Recovery time is 10 to 14 days.
  • There is more discomfort/pain.
  • More aftercare is needed.
  • It costs more initially.
  • There are risks associated with anesthesia and surgery.
  • Results are permanent and cannot be reversed.

Disadvantages of a liquid face-lift include:

  • Multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve satisfactory results.
  • Effects are temporary, and maintenance requires ongoing treatments.
  • Costs for repeated treatments could add up over time to be more than a surgical face-lift.
  • It may not have as dramatic results as a surgical face-lift.

Are There Any Precautions or Side Effects to Be Aware Of?

Side effects are usually temporary and mild, such as bruising, swelling, and redness at the injection sites. These effects may be more severe for some people than others, particularly if injections are administered under the eyes. These effects usually resolve within a week.

Complications and significant side effects are rare, but can include:

  • Skin eruptions that resemble acne
  • Infection at the injection site
  • Bleeding from the injection site
  • Significant bruising
  • Significant swelling
  • Redness
  • Rash/itching
  • Skin discoloration
  • Scarring from damage to the skin
  • Asymmetry
  • Under- or overcorrection of wrinkles/overfilled areas
  • Lumps under the skin
  • Ability to feel the filler under the skin
  • Allergic reaction
  • Skin necrosis (tissue death)
  • Vision loss

How to Find a Provider 

It is important to choose a cosmetic surgeon who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Search tools are available from:

Always Get Fillers or Botox Supervised by a Board-Certified Cosmetic Surgeon

Fillers or Botox may be offered in places such as a non-medical spa, a salon, or even at a party at someone's home. Never get fillers done by anyone other than a board-certified cosmetic surgeon who is trained and has experience in facial anatomy and cosmetic injectables or their qualified staff (nurses, nurse practitioners, or physician's assistants under their supervision).

While other options might be tempting, they can be unsafe and give poor results.


A liquid face-lift is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive cosmetic procedure involving injections administered to the face. The materials used are typically a combination of dermal fillers and Botox.

Results from a liquid face-lift are temporary and less dramatic than a surgical face-lift, but the procedure has fewer risks and side effects and an easier recovery.

Before making a decision, book a consultation with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon to ask questions, look at before and after photos, and consider your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is a good candidate for a liquid face-lift?

    Ideally, a candidate for a liquid face-lift is someone who has mild signs of aging (such as fine lines or minimal volume loss), does not wish to have surgery, and has realistic expectations for results.

  • What is a full liquid face-lift?

    A full liquid face-lift typically means a combination of injectables, such as dermal fillers and Botox, are used, and multiple areas of the face are treated.

  • How much is a liquid face-lift?

    The cost of a liquid face-lift can vary based on factors such as the type and amount of material used, the cosmetic surgeon, and the geographic location.

    You can use the pricing tool provided by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery to check the range of pricing for cosmetic surgery procedures in your area.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Heather Jones
Heather M. Jones is a freelance writer with a strong focus on health, parenting, disability, and feminism.