Comparing Traditional and Liquid Filler Face-Lifts

When it comes to having a face-lift, there are two options: going under the knife or liquid filler injectables. During a traditional face-lift, incisions are made into the hairline and skin is pulled. When having a liquid face-lift, fillers are injected into the skin. However, as with anything, there always are pros and cons to consider before choosing one approach over another.

Woman bandaged from Face lift
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Advantages of Liquid Face-Lift vs. Traditional Face-Lift

The most obvious advantage of the liquid rather than a traditional face-lift is that improvements in the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin are similar and achieved without actual surgery. The use of injectables to plump up and fill out the face means that patients have a much less invasive option than was previously available to them. Although most people would probably cringe at the thought of getting needles stuck in their face, there is no actual cutting involved.

Because anesthesia is usually not required with most injectable procedures, the immediate risk to the patient is significantly less than with plastic surgery. Moreover, there is usually no significant downtime required following the procedure (although you may want to lay low for a day or two unless you are prepared to answer questions about any redness or swelling that may occur at the injection sites).

Another advantage of a liquid face-lift, in many cases, is a more natural-looking result than is usually achieved with surgery. Because the skin is filled from the inside, there are no scars. More importantly, though, the result is never a “pulled tight” or “windswept” look, as can occur with a traditional face-lift. Many healthcare providers believe that this method is much more akin to how nature makes us look young because it deals with plumping or filling the skin instead of pulling it tight. This mimics the fullness we see in a youthful face.

Finally, liquid face-lifts cost much less than traditional face-lifts — averaging around $2,000 depending on the filler that is used, compared to $20,000 for going under a knife. What's more: they can be performed in all areas of the face, including the forehead and around the eyes. In contrast, a traditional face-lift deals only with the lower face, requiring a patient to get separate procedures to address the forehead and eye areas.

Disadvantages of Liquid Face-Lift vs. Traditional Face-Lift

Dermal fillers may not work as a face-lift for everyone. Also, there only some dermal fillers that can last for a while. As of now, there have been few reported serious complications, but those that have been reported include swelling, bruising, pain, itching, tenderness, visible bumps or lines under the skin, and allergic reactions. In addition, in very rare cases, a blood vessel can accidentally be punctured by a needle, potentially causing an embolism, necrosis (tissue death) or other significant damage to the skin.

Moreover, though the instances of the aforementioned complications are relatively rare, there is a bigger question for many people: What are the long-term effects, and when we will know? Frankly, there is no way to be certain about the possible long-term complications or side effects.

The other check in the “con” column has to do with the longevity of the results. While a traditional face-lift may get you 5, 10, or even 15 years of a more youthful appearance, most of the dermal fillers do wear off as the material is absorbed by the body. Therefore, the results of a liquid face-lift may only last, on average, a few years. This means more trips to your healthcare provider and more injections. Over time, this also means that a liquid face-lift can actually cost more than a traditional face-lift, due to the cost of maintaining your results.

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  • American College of Osteopathic Dermatology. Dermal Fillers, Consumer Information Sheet.

  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Injectable Fillers, Consumer Information Sheet.
  • United Kingdom Department of Health. Dermal Filler, Government Consumer Information Sheet.