Face Lift Cost
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A facelift can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 based on the extent of treatment, the geographic location of the practice, and many other factors.
No one is immune to the effects of aging, and the face is one of the first areas that begins to show wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity. A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a surgical means of turning back the clock by removing excess skin, repositioning underlying tissues, and tightening remaining tissue to restore a refreshed, youthful facial appearance.
Because every patient has different needs and goals, a facelift can often involve much more than just tissue removal and repositioning. In some instances, liposuction, or the surgical removal of fat deposits, may be necessary. Other patients choose to incorporate cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), while others may wish to undergo a chemical peel to reduce acne scarring, or injectable treatments like BOTOX® Cosmetic to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes. All of these additional treatments can increase the cost of a facelift.
Although cost is important, patients should define their goals and make no compromises in the interest of saving money. You cannot put a price on your own personal satisfaction and the boosted self-esteem that expertly performed plastic surgery can provide. However, it's quite easy to put a price on revision facelift surgery, and in most cases, it costs far more than an outstanding first surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision, and it should be viewed as an investment in yourself, rather than a reason to begin hunting for a bargain. At the same time, you don't necessarily have to pay a colossal sum in order to achieve results that provide you with long-term satisfaction. By educating yourself about the characteristics of an excellent surgeon, the enhancements possible with different variations on facelift surgery, and the expenses associated with the procedure, you can determine how to make the most of your investment in plastic surgery.
Your Choice of Surgeon
Just as no two facelift surgeries are the same, no two surgeons have identical rates. Experience and reputation make a significant difference. For example, a surgeon who is just starting a new practice likely cannot command the same price as a surgeon who has had his or her own private practice for 20 years. Of course, a surgeon's image and reputation can influence that cost as well. If a surgeon is known for producing outstanding results, they could feasibly charge much more than a surgeon whose reputation is not as stellar.
James Landeen, M.D. is a colleague of mine who also practices in San Antonio. He explains that you must choose your surgeon carefully, and make certain that a lower price point is not a reflection of a lack of credentials.
"Not too many years ago, hospitals and other ambulatory centers had requirements that you had to meet before you could perform certain procedures," he said. "This has really lost itself. There are physicians who have been trained in ophthalmology and other areas performing facial plastic surgery procedures, but they're not board certified plastic surgeons. These doctors have not made the investment in becoming certified, and they know they are in a secondary position, so sometimes they compete with a lower price.
"Find out if your surgeon is board certified, and if they happen to cost more than a non-certified surgeon, it's worth it," Dr. Landeen said. "Also, make sure that your surgeon is experienced in performing the procedure you want. Find out how frequently they perform face lift surgery to make sure you're choosing someone experienced."
Geographic Location of Your Surgeon
Its a well-known truth that most goods and services cost more in large metropolitan areas than they do in less populated regions. However, just because a city has a large population does not necessarily mean that plastic surgery will cost more than in a smaller city. Demand, property values, median household income, and other factors can make a significant difference in the cost of a facelift from one location to another.
Demand, property values, median household income, and other factors can make a significant difference in the cost of a facelift from one location to another
For example, San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the United States, but ranks 126th in terms of median household income. The cost of a facelift performed in San Antonio is usually in the low to mid range of the national price scale.
"In San Antonio, the surgery isn't conservative, but the prices are," Dr. Landeen said. "You can get a total face lift for under $10,000, and that includes everything - anesthesia, facility fees, and blood work. Just like anywhere, whether you're in New York City or San Diego, you're going to have practices that that are above or equal to that."
Extent of Treatment
When defining your goals for a facelift, four distinct procedures are typically discussed:
- A lower facelift treats the jowls, jawline, and neck.
- A mid facelift treats the area around the corners of the mouth, nose, and eyes.
- A brow lift addresses creases and sagging skin in the brow.
- A full facelift combines elements of a lower facelift, mid facelift, and brow lift.
Depending on where you have your surgery performed, a procedure addressing only one third of the face can cost $3,000 or more, while a full facelift can cost $15,000 or more.
While a facelift can make a dramatic difference in the contours of your face, it cannot address some aspects of skin texture. Meanwhile, some wrinkles and lines can be better addressed by adding volume or relaxing certain muscles, rather than tightening the skin. Depending on your goals, you may wish to have certain treatments administered before or after your facelift for more comprehensive results:
- A chemical peel carries an average cost of about $700. This procedure involves applying a chemical solution to your skin to remove damaged outer layers. This treatment is a popular choice among patients wishing to reduce the appearance of acne scars and sun damage.
- BOTOX® Cosmetic is an injectable treatment usually administered to the crows' feet (lines that form at the outer corners of the eyes), the forehead, and the 11s (horizontal lines between the eyes). The average cost is about $200 per treatment area. This treatment paralyzes certain muscles that cause wrinkles and creases when they contract, helping patients look refreshed and alert.
- Blepharoplasty, or cosmetic eyelid surgery, is a process of correcting sagging upper eyelids, or reducing "bags" beneath the eyes. This procedure can be a very effective complement to a facelift, helping patients look rested and rejuvenated. The average surgeon's fees for blepharoplasty are about $2,800.
Chin Implants and Fat Injection
If you are dissatisfied with the shape of your chin and wish to add definition, you can choose to have chin implants placed at the same time your facelift is performed. These specially shaped silicone implants are often used to provide patients with the coveted "cleft chin," or to simply create a better defined jawline. This option can add upwards of $1,000 to the cost of surgery.
Meanwhile, fat injections are another augmentation option that many patients are choosing as a way to add volume to certain areas of the face that can start to look sunken with age. Some patients wish to remove fatty tissue from one area of the body, and this option allows them to use that fat instead of dermal fillers or implants. Liposuction itself carries an average cost of about $2,800 in surgeon's fees, depending on the extent of treatment. Fat injection can add several hundreds of dollars to the cost of facelift and other procedures because the fat must be purified, and the injection process adds time to the total duration of surgery.
Anesthesia can provide a temporary state of relaxation, lack of pain, and unconsciousness, and it is absolutely essential in virtually every surgical procedure. Depending upon your extent of treatment, your surgeon's recommendation, and your individual preferences and needs, anesthesia can be general (complete unconsciousness and lack of pain), moderate (partial unconsciousness and lack of pain), or local (conscious, but without pain). Many practices include the cost of anesthesia in an upfront estimate, but in some cases, these fees may be accrued by the hour.
Anesthesia can be administered either by an anesthesiologist or a nurse. An anesthesiologist is the more expensive choice, sometimes costing $400 or more per hour. A nurse could charge fees of $300 or more per hour. However, if the patient is feeling apprehensive about being under anesthesia, or if he or she has certain health conditions that increase the risk of complications, an anesthesiologist may be well worth the added expense.
Surgical Venue Fee
Plastic surgery can take place in one of three venues: a hospital, an ambulatory surgical center, or a surgeon's own private surgical suite. Hospitals are the most expensive option by far, and the rates - usually charged by the hour - vary widely from one facility to another, and can easily add thousands to the total cost of surgery. Ambulatory surgical centers are becoming a popular alternative to hospitals. These facilities are designed specifically for outpatient procedures, and are often privately owned. Again, rates vary dramatically from one center to another, but they often cost about two-thirds less than a hospital.
If your surgeon has his or her own surgical suite, it can provide a considerable savings over a hospital and ambulatory surgical center. While there are still overhead costs that must be considered, including utilities, staff, and other expenses, this is the most cost-effective option.
Plastic surgery is not necessarily a "one and done" experience. Though facelifts and other procedures can help patients reduce the signs of aging, the clock always keeps ticking, and the effects of aging will continue to take their toll. Eventually, facelift patients may choose to undergo a revision surgery to once again rejuvenate their appearance.
Meanwhile, patients may find that they are dissatisfied with the results of a recent facelift. Reasons for this can range from poor work on the part of the surgeon to inadequate communication during the initial consultation, or unforeseen health complications such as an infection.
Revision facelift surgery is usually more costly than a first facelift
In either case, revision facelift surgery is usually more costly than a first facelift, sometimes by a margin of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Put simply, revision surgery is more difficult to perform. There is more scar tissue to work with, and the surgeon is not starting from your natural anatomic state. Instead, the surgeon is often starting from a point created by another surgeon, and it takes time to carefully plan how to take you from that point to meet your goals. More time spent in an ambulatory suite under anesthesia also contributes to a higher price than an original facelift surgery.
Pamela: A Facelift Patient Who Benefitted by Refusing to Compromise
I performed a facelift for Pamela in 2008. She had experienced an illness that caused her to lose 40 pounds, which resulted in her face developing sagging skin and gaunt features. She explains that although her facelift required some careful budgeting, in the end, the benefits it provided justified the cost.
"I didn't recognize who I was," Pamela said. "When you lose 40 pounds in two weeks, that's not good. I work in the corporate world, and when you don't have confidence, it affects you in a big way. I understand where a lot of people are coming from when they say plastic surgery is not affordable, but if it's affecting you the way it was affecting me, you have to consider: how is this going to make me feel down the line?"
I would tell anyone considering a facelift or any other plastic surgery that if something seems too good to be true, it's probably too good to be true
"It took me back a little bit, but I looked at it like an investment in myself, like doing a remodel on my home," she said. "You kind of have to think beyond appearance - what else is this going to do for me? It gave me back my ‘muchness,' like they talk about in Alice in Wonderland. Being able to feel good within was important to me. I just turned 59, and people tell me I look like I'm in my 40s."
Pamela said she did considerable research to find a plastic surgeon, and had to do a lot of critical thinking to sift through online reviews and testimonials to determine who had the characteristics she valued.
"On any review site, you'll see negativity," Pamela said. "I remember somebody had written, ‘Dr. Barone is a great doctor, but her bedside manner left something to be desired.' But I wanted someone who was upfront and honest. There are too many doctors who are willing to put you under the knife, but don't have true compassion."
"I would tell anyone considering a facelift or any other plastic surgery that if something seems too good to be true, it's probably too good to be true. Dr. Barone may not be the cheapest, but she's the best. Am I going to sacrifice my healing and satisfaction to save $1,000? No. I wanted a natural look, and that's what I got."
Strategize, Don't Compromise
Cost is an aspect of plastic surgery that cannot be ignored, but in order to achieve the very best results, you cannot let it dictate your decisions. Rather than trying to shoehorn your experience into a specific budget, you must define your goals, find an outstanding surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and confident, and create a strategy for affording the cost of reaching your goals. While the cost of surgery may be intimidating, you risk throwing away thousands of dollars if you compromise your goals. There are many opportunities in our lives to compromise wisely, such as driving a modest car or cutting back on dining out, but plastic surgery is not one of them. The benefits of a beautiful, natural-looking facelift are far more valuable than being dissatisfied with your results and having a little more money in the bank.
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