Hot on the heels of fashion designer Marc Jacobs chronicling his facelift recovery and results on social media, the plastic surgery microscope is now starting to narrow in on the men’s facelift. Guys in Hollywood and beyond are no strangers to going under the knife, and many have been electing to get facelifts for years. Sometimes, the results are obvious (and not great) and become front-page fodder. Other times, the results are so stellar you can't quite put your finger on if it is surgery or something else.
Yes, the facelift is a traditionally female-dominated procedure. “Generally, many men are under the impression that it is vain to undergo surgery or that it is only for women,” shares Jonathan Cabin, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Arlington, VA. “This stigma of male plastic surgery or the idea that men should somehow not care about their cosmetic appearance seems to be going away slowly — but it persists.”
Even so, more men are joining the ranks of facelift patients than ever before. The thought is that as neuromodulators, fillers, and supercharged skincare become more routine, they serve as a gateway to more invasive plastic surgery procedures. “Once individuals are comfortable with injectables as a method of enhancing their appearance, they ultimately realize the limitations of those procedures and become comfortable with pursuing more advanced facial surgeries such as facelifts,” says Oren Friedman, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and director of facial plastic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, it’s time to get real about what men can expect from a facelift, from who is a candidate to how to ensure the most natural-looking results. Read on for a complete guide.
The Ideal Candidate For a Men’s Facelift
Let’s face it, everyone wants to look like the best and most rejuvenated version of themselves, and Dr. Friedman says that men and women alike are concerned about how they look as they age. “Our patients mostly all want to look very natural after any surgical intervention,” he notes.
Generally speaking, women seek a facelift to correct an aging face and neck, while men primarily focus on the neck. They are also often concerned with the possibility of resulting scars, says David Abramson, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. Men who ‘need’ a facelift have jowling and heaviness in the lower face and excess skin on the neck. The kicker? They need to have enough hair to hide the ensuing scars. “This is especially the case if the patient wears their hair short,” he shares. “However, if he is completely bald, it’s challenging to hide those scars.”
Those patients are “not an ideal candidate for the procedure,” Dr. Abramson notes, adding that it’s not standard practice to place scars on or inside the ears. For this reason alone, facelifts on men can be more challenging to perform than women. “Of course, there are trade-offs to a facelift, and there are other procedures and treatments we can do, like strictly neck procedures,” he adds. But a facelift without a neck lift is like eating a hamburger without a bun — it’s doable but rarely as good as the combination.
As always, managing expectations about what the surgery can and cannot achieve is an important conversation between surgeon and patient. For example, the goal of a facelift is to address signs of aging on the lower face and neck, but the procedure will not get rid of skin-related concerns that affect men, like sun damage and acne scars.
Facelifts for Men vs. Facelifts for Women
All facelifts, regardless of the gender of the patient, target muscle, fat, tissue, and excess skin. For the most part, the steps involved in facelifts for both men and women are the same, but the incision placement is different. “There are some minor technical differences between male and female facelifts,” Dr. Friedman shares. “But, in general, the goal is natural-looking results without changing the identity of a person and minimal downtime.”
As we touched on, there are also differences in what men are usually looking to address with their surgery. The lower face and neck obviously make the list, but they may also choose to pair the facelift with additional procedures to maximize results:
- Turkey necks & neck laxity affect men: Men are usually concerned with the fat that dangles from the front of their neck that may cause them to need a bigger shirt size. “Getting rid of the turkey waddle and naturally tightening the neck is what most men want to achieve with a facelift,” Dr. Friedman shares.
- Fat under the chin can be problematic: Extra fat accumulates under the chin and between the jawline and neck, making the chin appear less defined. Submental liposuction may be a fix for double chin concerns. To address a weak chin, meanwhile, your surgeon may recommend a chin implant — specifically, a square-shaped one — for added dimension.
- The eyes may need some help, too: When addressing the eyes, it’s crucial to keep their round and narrow shape. Otherwise, they may appear too feminine. Men naturally have fuller brows and eyelids, which your surgeon should maintain. This is one of the reasons it is so important to find a surgeon who specializes in men.
- Don’t forget skin quality & volume loss: Many men are frustrated by uneven skin tone and texture concerns as a result of sun damage and scarring, which laser resurfacing can correct. As it relates to restoring lost facial volume, men and women alike often opt for fat transfer.
We should also note that men who undergo facelifts are at a higher risk of hematoma. Dr. Cabin says men have more blood vessels and a stronger blood supply in their faces than women. “The body requires additional blood supply for facial hair, and, because of this, there is a slightly higher risk of blood collection (a hematoma) post-operatively,” he explains. “It is usually minor and easy to treat, but I am extra careful during surgery to control bleeding and any potentially problematic blood vessels.”
Achieving a Natural Result
One thing that men stress that they don’t want is a tight, pulled look. “They don’t want to appear like they’ve had surgery, nor do they want to look feminized,” Dr. Cabin says. He says achieving a natural result starts with good surgical technique. “It's about using a combination of a deep plane lift, tension-free skin closure with carefully hidden incisions around the ear and hairline, and repositioning the skin and soft tissue at a natural angle,” Dr. Cabin explains. “Otherwise, the face can look windswept or unnatural.”
Most men don’t realize that it’s possible to achieve such a natural — and masculine — result. “By taking all tension off of the skin and lifting the deeper layers of the face, deep plane facelifts achieve more natural results with a reduction in scarring risk,” he adds.
There’s also the skincare component to consider. Not all men care for their skin the same way that women do. “Sure, there are different groups of men who have different skincare habits, but, from my experience, most are not big followers of skincare unless they’ve always been like that,” Dr. Abramson shares.
Just because a skincare routine doesn't sit at the top of a man's daily to-do list, however, doesn't mean the surgery results will be affected. Environmental and lifestyle choices, like sunbathing and smoking, impact the results more than forgetting to apply moisturizer or bypassing vitamin C. The exception? Not wearing sunscreen. For patients with poor skin quality, your surgeon may suggest a resurfacing laser during the facelift for more comprehensive rejuvenation.
A Clean Cut
Most (though not all) men who get a facelift wear their hair shorter, so, of course, visibility of scars is always a worry. Sideburns also should be factored into the equation so that the resulting scars don’t interrupt the normal hair growth pattern in that area. But the hair on the head isn’t the only thing to consider. “Changes in facial hair pattern is another concern, especially in men who like to wear stubble or beards or want the option in the future,” Dr. Cabin explains.
Dr. Friedman says facelift incisions are hidden differently in men than women because of bearded facial skin. A good plastic surgeon will place the incisions (later scars) in front of and behind the ears and in the hairline. Once healed, the scars should be a barely detectable fine, white line or even look like a tiny wrinkle.
Nothing is permanent — not even a facelift. “It’s important for facelift patients to understand that the procedure is like a reset button, and you will continue to age,” Dr. Abramson advises. Think of a facelift as a way to undo the signs of aging and as a refresh. After all, once you invest in a facelift, you’ll probably have a new lease on life and your face.
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