You may not realize it, but today the term “facelift” covers a wide variety of cosmetic surgical procedures, so when you’re seeking information about facelifts, it’s not always easy to separate the fiction from the facts.

More than 15 million cosmetic procedures are now performed every year in the United States according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Millions of those procedures are facelifts.

As an experienced Boston facelift surgeon, I know that every face is different, so you’ll need to learn how the general facts offered here about facelifts will apply to you personally.

QUESTION #1: CAN’T FACIAL EXERCISES ALONE KEEP ME LOOKING YOUNG?

Recently, magazines, talk shows, and celebrities have been promoting facial exercises as a way to keep the face looking young. These exercises purportedly “tighten” and “tone” facial muscles in the same way that working out at the gym tightens your abs.

It’s a poor and inaccurate comparison.

In fact, repetitive facial movements can actually increase the lines and wrinkles and add to the sagging skin around someone’s face. No type or amount of “facial exercise” is going to erase one line or wrinkle.

If wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin are your concerns, facial exercises are a waste of your time. A facelift – or an alternative like injectable treatments for wrinkles – will almost certainly be the best option for you.

QUESTION #2: HOW CAN I KNOW IF NOW IS THE TIME FOR A FACELIFT?

If facial exercises can’t help you restore a natural, youthful look, how can you know if the time is right for a facelift? If you are self-conscious about sagging skin and deep lines or creases, or if injectable treatments do not seem to be effective, this may be the right time to have a facelift.

Don’t worry about your age. Provided that you are generally in good health and that you’re a non-smoker, you are probably a good candidate for a facelift procedure.

If you hate what has slowly happened to your neck and jawline, or if you want to erase lines, wrinkles, or extra fat under the chin, talk to an experienced cosmetic surgeon about a facelift – it’s probably right for you, and the right time is probably now.

QUESTION #3: WHAT’S INVOLVED IN RECOVERY AFTER A FACELIFT?

After a facelift procedure, take it easy – and have someone around to lend a hand – for the first few days after the surgery.

The stitches usually come out in a week, but most people should set aside slightly longer for a full recovery. That’s when you should be able to return to work and resume your routine daily activities.

Your healing and health will be enhanced if you eat a nutritious diet, get plenty of sleep, and adhere to any specific directions from your cosmetic surgeon regarding your recovery.

QUESTION #4: HOW LONG WILL THE RESULTS OF A FACELIFT LAST?

For how many years will you be able to enjoy the results of your facelift procedure? There is simply no way to know for sure. It’s going to be different for every person. However, provided you remain in a good state of health and avoid smoking, the average length of time is 8 to 10 years. No cosmetic surgeon can guarantee how long it will be until you may need a touch-up procedure.

What is guaranteed, however, is that your results will last longer if you avoid the sun and use sunscreen, eat right, and speak with your plastic surgeon about the skincare products that might be right for you.

If you take these steps, the results of your facelift procedure should last for eight to ten years. Most people who take these steps can expect their results to last even longer.

QUESTION #5: HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLASTIC SURGEON?

Every prospective facelift patient needs to ask some questions at the first consultation with a plastic surgeon. You must get the right answers to these questions before you let a surgeon perform a facelift:

1. Are you board-certified?
2. How many facelift procedures have you performed?
3. Who provides the anesthesia? What anesthesia is provided?
4. What should I know about recovery?
5. What will a facelift cost – the total cost including all fees?

Even a plastic surgeon may not be certified or trained to perform cosmetic surgical procedures. The surgeon who performs your facelift needs to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).

Only a board-certified physician anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist should administer anesthesia. ABPS-certified cosmetic surgeons work exclusively with licensed anesthesia professionals and exclusively in accredited surgical facilities.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR PAYMENT?

Insurance almost never pays for a cosmetic procedure, so if you are considering a facelift, understand that you will probably be paying for the procedure personally and directly.

But don’t allow that to obstruct your goals. Several kinds of payment plans are offered by most cosmetic surgeons.

Of course, if the cost you are quoted sounds low, that’s a red flag. The last thing you want is a “discount” facelift. At the same time, an expensive facelift procedure is no assurance that the doctor is talented or that the results will satisfy you.

The costs for a facelift procedure typically include the fees for the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital or surgical facility; medical test and lab costs; and the cost of any medications prescribed to help with your recovery.

While there is no way that a cosmetic surgeon can provide a cost estimate for a facelift procedure until that surgeon has examined you, after that examination, you should be provided with a complete, itemized, accurate estimate of your costs.

WHAT IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH A PARTICULAR DOCTOR?

If you’re not provided with a complete written estimate at some point prior to the surgery, find another doctor. There is no reason to work with a cosmetic surgeon that you don’t trust, like, or feel comfortable with.

Do not be shy or soft-spoken when you first consult a cosmetic surgeon. Get answers that satisfy you about any and all of your concerns.

If you are considering a facelift procedure, speak to an experienced, board-certified Boston plastic surgeon. You can schedule a consultation – and take that first step to a more youthful look – right now.