How Long Do Cosmetic Surgery Results Really Last?
Nothing lasts forever — not even the results of cosmetic surgery. While going under the knife may have longer-lasting effects than non-surgical cosmetic treatments, most plastic surgery procedures still have a shelf life that can range from a few years to more than a decade.
No two surgeries are the same, but having a basic understanding of what will happen before, during, and after a procedure can help ensure that your expectations are properly managed. The longevity of cosmetic and plastic surgery results depends largely on (a) the patient and (b) the surgeon’s technique, but there are some general rules of thumb when it comes to how long you can expect your results to last.
While nothing replaces a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon, we’ve put together a guide to the average lifespan of some of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures. From lifts (think: facelift, brow lift, neck lift, breast lift, and butt lift) and hair transplants to rhinoplasties and breast implants, here’s how long popular cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery procedures typically last.
Non-surgical injectables (think: Botox®, filler, and the like) and laser treatments may be all the rage for their lack of invasiveness and downtime, but sometimes going under the knife is needed for a more dramatic and long-term fix. Even so, a surgical procedure cannot prevent the future effects of aging, which is why very few facial plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures claim to last forever.
Blepharoplasty (a.k.a Eyelid Surgery)
Lifespan: 10 years for upper eyelid blepharoplasty; Lifetime for lower eyelid blepharoplasty Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure that improves the appearance of the eyelids by removing excess skin or fat deposits from the orbital area. It can be performed on either the upper and lower eyelid, and, depending on the reason for the procedure, may be classified as either a plastic and reconstructive procedure or an aesthetic surgery.
- Upper Eyelid Blepharoplasty: The results of upper eyelid surgery usually last about 10 years (as the face and eye area continue to age), at which another procedure may be necessary.
- Lower Eyelid Blepharoplasty: Unlike its upper eyelid counterpart, the results of a lower eyelid surgery tend to last a lifetime and a followup procedure is rarely necessary.
For patients whose vision is impaired by sagging eyelids, for example, the surgery would be considered medically necessary and, therefore, covered by insurance. Patients who simply wish to rejuvenate the eye area for cosmetic reasons, meanwhile, the treatment would probably be considered elective. Either way, the results are typically the same.
Browplasty (a.k.a. Brow Lift)
Lifespan: 5 to 10 years Known as a browplasty, brow lift, or forehead lift, the surgery involves raising the brows to a more youthful position and, in the process, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, and hooded eyelids. During an endoscopic brow lift, the surgeon places an endoscope through small incisions made within the hairline to adjust the muscle and tissue beneath the skin. Because of the natural aging process, results of a browplasty are not forever. Most last five to 10 years.
Rhinoplasty (a.k.a. Nose Job)
Lifespan: Lifetime Like blepharoplasty, a nose job can be 'functional' (i.e. medically necessary) or 'cosmetic' (read: elective). Both classifications require a great deal of patience during the healing process, with full results often taking up to a year to reveal themselves. But, they are worth the wait. A rhinoplasty is one of the few surgical procedures that comes with permanent, lifetime results.
Rhytidectomy (a.k.a. Facelift)
Lifespan: 10 years The gold standard of facial rejuvenation, a surgical facelift has the most dramatic and long lasting results of any of the available lifting and firming techniques on the market. It addresses facial sagging and volume loss in a way few other treatments do, but, even so, a rhytidectomy should only be expected to last, on average, 10 years or so as the skin and face continue to naturally age.
Lower Rhytidectomy (a.k.a. Neck Lift)
Lifespan: 10 years Like a facelift, a neck lift also has about a 10-year lifespan due to the natural aging process. During the procedure, incisions are made along the hairline and ear to remove excess skin and fat. In addition to removing jowls, a lower rhytidectomy yields a more defined neck and jawline.
Hair loss is a concern for men and women alike. While treatments like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are gaining popularity for their ability to improve hair regrowth over time, hair transplants remain among the most effective, albeit invasive, ways to correct hair loss.
Lifespan: Lifetime Generally speaking, there are two types of hair transplants. Both involve harvesting healthy hair follicles from a donor site for implant on balding or thinning areas.
- Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE): Healthy hair follicles are extracted one by one from a patient's scalp and implanted to other areas around the head.
- Follicular Unit Transplant (FUT): Also known as strip harvesting, surgeons remove a section of hair from the back of the head (or another place it can be easily concealed). The strip is then dissected into smaller segments that can be implanted as needed.
In each case, the transplanted hair typically shed within the first two to three weeks before growing back. Full results can take up to 18 months and touch up treatments may be needed, but the results are considered permanent.
Like the face, surgical and invasive procedures for the body typically last longer than non-invasive treatments that are meant to address similar concerns. While many body surgeries do offer permanent results, that longevity is often caveated with the need to maintain a healthy weight or lifestyle.
Abdominoplasty (a.k.a. Tummy Tuck)
Lifespan: Lifetime with healthy lifestyle A tummy tuck is a multifaceted cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and excess fat, in addition to restoring muscle definition, for a more contoured abdomen. While the loose skin and fat removal are permanent, lifestyle factors (think: weight changes) can impact the longevity and quality of the results.
Brazilian Butt Lift
Lifespan: Lifetime after initial reabsorption period A Brazilian Butt Lift involves transferring fat from one part of the body to the buttocks for improved shape and contour. Because it is an autologous transfer, there is no fear of rejection, but it is expected that some percentage of the fat will be reabsorbed into the body. Generally speaking, 60 to 70 percent of transferred fat survives, yielding permanent results.
Lifespan: 8 to 10 years for breast implants; Lifetime results with healthy lifestyle for breast lift and breast reduction There are three main types of breast surgery — augmentation, reduction, and lift — and each procedure has its own unique level of permanence:
- Augmentation Mammaplasty (a.k.a. Breast Augmentation): While there is more than one kind of breast augmentation, augmentation with breast implants require replacement every eight to 10 years to ensure safety.
- Mastopexy (a.k.a. Breast Lift): Unlike a breast augmentation that addresses the size of the chest, a breast lift improves the projection and shape of the breast by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue. Weight changes and the aging process can cause sagging over time.
- Reduction Mammaplasty (a.k.a. Breast Reduction): To alleviate any pain or discomfort caused by large breasts, a breast reduction removes excess skin and fat. The removal process is permanent, though it does require patients to maintain their weight.
Lifespan: Lifetime with healthy lifestyle Liposuction is typically performed as part of a larger surgery (think: a tummy tuck) or to complement another procedure, but, regardless of the application, it results in permanent fat loss. With that said, lipo cannot protect against future weight gain, so a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle must be maintained to enjoy the contouring results.
As you can probably tell, how long the results of plastic surgery last depends on an array of factors. In some cases, procedures can be one and done, assuming a healthy lifestyle is maintained. In other cases, the aging process may create the need for follow-up treatments down the line. Consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon will help to level set your expectations prior to surgery and ensure the best results for your concern.