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Lasers vs. Surgery: Can You Achieve Dramatic Results Without Going Under the Knife?

Recently, I shared my thoughts on the common misconception that a patient needs to choose either facelift surgery or a non-surgical solution when pursuing facial rejuvenation. In this article, I highlighted the many benefits of laser resurfacing when used in tandem with facelift surgery.

Indeed, laser treatments are a natural complement to facelift surgery, helping to bring facelift results to life by providing smoother, brighter, and firmer skin that blends in naturally with the now more youthful facial contours.

Understandably, however, many men and women would prefer to avoid surgery if a non-surgical alternative might provide an appreciable improvement. As one of the most rapidly advancing segments of facial rejuvenation technology, laser treatments have proven an excellent tool to help tighten skin and eliminate wrinkles—both of which are also common goals with facelift surgery.

This begs the question, is it possible for lasers to achieve equally impressive results as surgery? The answer actually lies more in the patient than in the procedures themselves. Depending on a patient’s specific goals with facial rejuvenation, as well as the nature and degree of facial aging he or she currently exhibits, laser resurfacing may produce either dramatic improvements or underwhelming results.

When is a laser treatment the better solution?

Laser treatments work from the outside in and, depending on the type of laser, can help repair damage on the skin’s surface, strengthen the outer layers of the skin by increasing collagen production, and even tighten skin to some degree. Treatment options are versatile; there are lasers designed to eliminate discoloration, tighten lax skin, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and diminish acne scars. However, just because lasers deal with more surface-level signs of aging does not mean that laser resurfacing results are necessarily subtle. In fact, since a facelift will not significantly affect the texture or appearance of the overlying skin, lasers can provide improvement in areas where even the most expertly performed facelift cannot. For patients who are not experiencing significant sagging, lasers are an excellent choice for correcting flaws and rejuvenating the skin’s appearance.

When is a facelift the more appropriate solution?

For truly dramatic lifting and tightening, a facelift remains the most effective solution. As aging progresses, effects are no longer isolated to the skin’s surface. Connective tissue, fat, and muscle begin to lose tone, causing them to droop below their natural, youthful position. These changes may manifest in jowling, neck bands, sagging eyelids, or a heavy, furrowed brow. In such cases, laser treatments can produce modest improvements by firming and brightening the skin, but because the root of the problem is deeper, surgery is needed to lift and reposition underlying tissues, remove excess skin, and restore more youthful facial contours.

Can laser resurfacing allow a patient to postpone facelift surgery indefinitely?

While lasers can help a person maintain a more youthful appearance than is possible without treatment, nothing can completely stop the natural aging process. That said, laser resurfacing does allow patients to make improvements without surgery when in years past facial rejuvenation options may have been limited to a facelift.

For younger patients, laser resurfacing can used as a preventative measure, helping to reduce early signs of skin aging and treat minor sagging, thus postponing surgery. Patients who have already undergone a facelift might delay the need for a second surgery by having regular laser treatments to help keep their skin in optimal condition.

Finding the Right Solution for You

The best way to determine the benefits of laser skin resurfacing vs. facelift surgery for your needs is to meet with a highly experienced facial plastic surgeon and his or her skincare team to develop a customized treatment plan. I believe that a multidisciplinary approach offers the greatest opportunity to help a patient achieve long-lasting, beautiful results through treatments that suit his or her lifestyle.

If you are in New York and would like to discuss facelift surgery or non-surgical rejuvenation options in further detail, I encourage you to contact my office to schedule a personal consultation with my partner and skin professional Janice Pastorek, R.N., B.S.N., and myself. We will listen to your questions and concerns, evaluate your skin and facial structures, and discuss the most appropriate course of action to help you achieve your goals.

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