Deep Plane Facelift Explained

Authored By Omar Hussain, MD

Woman having her face examined by a doctor

Broadly speaking, a facelift is when a plastic surgeon surgically reverses the signs of aging in a single procedure with results that typically last for over a decade. For the right patient, it’s an excellent way to fully address advanced signs of aging that non-surgical procedures, such as injectables and lasers, simply can’t do.

The most common complaint I hear from my patients who ultimately decide to undergo a facelift is that they notice shadows that weren’t there when they were younger – deep nasolabial folds, marionette lines, jowling, deep circles underneath their eyes. These are all areas of the face where the anatomy transitions from fixed to mobile areas. To correct these, you must free everything up and restore it surgically.

This leads to one of the problems with non-surgical corrections. If you add volume to blend those transitions, you start adding volume in places where you didn’t have volume during your youth. In fact, you can end up masculinizing the jaw in female faces by overfilling these areas while trying to blend jowls. Surgical correction actually looks a lot more natural because we can make you look like you did when you were younger instead of unnatural overfilling and simply masking the issues you’re looking to correct.

On my patients, I perform extended deep plane facelifts. So, what does that mean? During the more traditional, old-school facelift method, surgeons would undermine the skin and pull it real tight. Grabbing a tree branch by the leaves is a helpful metaphor for envisioning this. Leaves aren’t strong! Now if instead of just pulling on the delicate leaves, you grab the base of the branch and pull from there, the leaves move along with the branch in a tension-free way.

With a deep plane facelift, we correct facial aging similarly to grabbing the base of the branch. When you go into the deep plane and grab those deeper structures after freeing all the ligaments, everything comes in a very smooth, easy way and naturally positions your face to where it used to be. The excess skin, like the leaves on a tree, gets trimmed, but more importantly, the deeper foundation is corrected.

This technique applies to the neck too. When performing a neck lift, or platysmaplasty, we free the skin from the platysma muscle. By doing this, we can grab that muscle and pull it tight, restoring that clean angle of the jawline you had in your youth. Even better, I can often do all of this from a hidden incision behind the ear without making an extra cut underneath the chin. My goal with face and neck lift patients is to rejuvenate your face and restore your youth, maintaining a natural look with minimal scarring.

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