The QuickLift™, not to be confused with a facelift, is a revolutionary procedure that tightens loose skin in the cheeks, jaw line, and neck in a less-invasive way. The procedure, first performed in California by Dr. Alexander in 2004, delivers impressive results similar to a traditional facelift but with fewer complications and a quicker recovery. Alexander Cosmetic Surgery is the only practice in San Diego licensed to perform the QuickLift.™
- 1 Understanding the QuickLift™
- 2 Procedure
Before and After Photos
Understanding the QuickLift™
Facelifts and other facial rejuvenation techniques have been around for a hundred years. Over this time period, procedures have become more advanced, offering more and more options to those who want to look younger and more vibrant as they age.
In the last ten years, a new development that achieves quick, effective tightening of the deeper facial tissue has spawned a new breed of mini-facelift. In years past, a mini-facelift just meant “doing less,” and it was common for surgeons to tell patients, “If you do a mini lift, you will get mini results.” However, today mini-facelifts have the ability to provide similar, long-lasting results that previously could only be obtained by a full facelift.
One such procedure is the QuickLift™, a less invasive procedure that provides similar results as a traditional face-lift but with a shorter procedure and much faster recovery time. A consultation with Dr. Alexander will help you understand more about how the QuickLift™ differs from traditional facelifts, helping you decide if it is right for you, or if another procedure can better achieve your desired look, such as a filler.
Thirty years ago, San Diego facelift procedures entailed tightening just the skin. In time, plastic surgeons recognized that longer-lasting and more natural results could be obtained by tightening the superficial muscles of the face, the SMAS. These procedures are effective but require much more technical skill and time, and there can be a greater risk of complications.
The QuickLift™ offers a less intrusive method for tightening these same SMAS tissues. The procedure takes only about 90 minutes to perform, and most patients find that they can recover in about a week. The natural appearance results from modern tightening of tissues, but without the same risks, swelling, and recovery time associated with traditional facelifts.
A QuickLift™ doesn’t stop the aging process, but, similar to a traditional San Diego facelift, turns back the clock on your face and age. Once healed, the face continues to age at a normal pace. If you look ten years younger after a QuickLift™, it will take about ten years or more for your face to age back to the preoperative condition.
Procedures often performed in conjunction with a QuickLift™ to further rejuvenate the face are a brow lift to correct a sagging or deeply furrowed brow, an Eyelid Lift to rejuvenate aging eyes, and chemical or laser peels to smooth sun-damaged skin.
A QuickLift™ can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments, such as peels or fillers, cannot achieve the same results. However, they may help postpone the time at which a facelift becomes appropriate. Thread lifts, also known as feather lifts and contour lifts, have proven to be very ineffective because no skin is removed. These procedures have not stood the test of time and have essentially been abandoned.
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Before You Decide…
Choosing Your Surgeon
Several important factors should be considered when choosing a surgeon, including the doctor’s personality, recommendations from friends, physician training and board certification and experience.
Personality: It is important to develop a good relationship with your surgeon so that communication is easy and trust can be developed. You should feel that you are in good hands. Bedside manner is important.
Referral from Friends: Many prospective patients find confidence if they have a close friend or other trusted individual who has already undergone a successful procedure by a certain doctor. This is often a good first step in making a decision. In fact, most of our patients are referred to us by a friend who was very satisfied with their results.
Training and Certification: In years past, only plastic surgeons performed facelifts. However, in recent years doctors from many different specialties are more commonly performing cosmetic surgery procedures, including ear reshaping, nose, and throat and chin doctors (also known as otolaryngologists and facial plastic surgeons), dermatologists, ophthalmologists, and gynecologists. However, only a surgeon who has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery has received the training essential to performing successful cosmetic surgery. There are many boards, and it is easy for patients to become confused or assume that when a doctor says they are “board certified,” it all means the same thing. BE CAREFUL!
Experience: Finally, consider the physician’s experience. Without question, this is the most important factor in making a decision. As with all professions, expertise is directly proportional to experience, meaning the total number of procedures performed. Medical literature illustrates that biggest predictor of success in surgery is volume, in other words, the number of times that a doctor has performed a procedure.
If the doctor is recommending a specific procedure, how many has he performed? Also, how often does he do this procedure? While board certifications and training are important, a surgeon’s experience with the procedure itself is more important. Don’t hesitate to ask pointed questions about recommended procedures.
To ensure the most natural looking-results, it’s imperative for a surgeon to recommend the procedure that most appropriately matches your needs and to offer realistic expectations for post-surgery outcomes. When you meet with a surgeon, you should expect a full discussion of the surgically appropriate options for your face, which is uniquely yours, and discuss other options as well, such as brow lifts or nose surgery
In our experience, we have found that most patients are pretty satisfied with how they look—they’ re just not happy with the changes to their features, which have been caused by age. Patients don’t want to alter the nature of their face; rather they desire to look fresher and younger. In other words, they want to “turn back the clock.” Many patients comment that they look older than they feel, but are wary of cosmetic surgery, especially if they’ve seen poor outcomes in others. We often hear, “I don’t want to look funny, weird, or pulled.”
A good surgeon will go through a series of examinations and observations that are individual and dependent upon your specific situation and goals. Also factored into this process are the doctor’s expertise, training, and experience. If a cosmetic surgeon does not offer all types of facial plastic surgery, it may be that they are not a board certified plastic surgeon. For example, if the “cosmetic surgeon” is a dermatologist who does not perform facelifts, he may be inclined to recommend resurfacing when a surgical procedure is more appropriate. Especially be wary of the “one-size-fits-all” approach.
This is particularly important because, as medicine continues to advance, patients have more options made available to them. The availability and affordability of options in Facelift procedures has made it possible for more people to benefit from facial rejuvenation surgery. But it has also caused some candidates considering surgery to form some mistaken impressions about procedures.
The success of your QuickLift™ depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. We will ask you questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- The options available to you for facial rejuvenation
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
Who is a good candidate?
We have found that the QuickLift™ works best for people in their 40s and 50s and occasionally for those who are a little older. However, the procedure can be modified for patients who have more loose skin or fat, especially in the neck region. The more challenging the neck area is, the more likely we are to recommend a traditional face and neck lift, which requires more extensive loosening of the skin and the removal of more fat.
But because every case is unique, the only way to accurately determine which procedure is best for you is to consult with Dr. Alexander. Also, bear in mind that there is a whole spectrum of options between the QuickLift™ and a traditional facelift—it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Sometimes a combination of techniques will yield the best result.
The QuickLift™ may be a good option for you if:
- You are physically healthy
- You don’t smoke
- You have a positive outlook and realistic expectations in mind for the improvement of your appearance
- You have looseness in the neck, jawline, or cheeks
- You want a refreshed, natural look that doesn’t look surgical
What does it cost?
Cost is always an important consideration in elective surgery. However, when choosing a plastic surgeon for a Facelift, remember that the surgeon’ s experience and your comfort are just as important as the final cost.
A quote will be provided to you after your consult with Dr. Alexander. Be sure to ask about our patient financing plans.
Cost may include:
- Surgeon’ s fee
- Operating Room and Supplies
- Prescriptions for medication
- Medical tests
- Anesthesia fees (if not done under local anesthesia)
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The QuickLift™ Procedure
Prior to surgery, we will have you:
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
During a preoperative appointment, usually 1-2 weeks before surgery, we will:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Tell you what to do on the night before and morning of surgery
- Discuss the use of anesthesia during your procedure
- Explain post-operative care and follow-up, and what help you will need after the procedure
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. We will recommend the best choice for you based on your personality, your desires, and the complexity of your procedure.
How We Do It
While the QuickLift™ is less invasive than a traditional facelift, it’s important to remember that the procedure still requires surgery. There are no viable or effective non-surgical alternatives that can reproduce what surgery can accomplish. Thread lifts, Contour Lifts, and Feather Lifts (all non-surgical alternatives to facelifting) have been disappointing failures and have essentially been abandoned. Even a deep laser peel or chemical peel, which help reduce lines and tighten skin, cannot compete with a surgical procedure. One important fact to consider is that peels actually require more recovery time than a QuickLift™.
The procedure typically takes about 90 minutes, depending on the individual face and certain surgical variables.
There are four basic steps to a QuickLift,™ which are the same steps with other types of facelifts. However, steps 2 and 3 are less complex and are the secret to the QuickLift.™
Step 1 – Incisions
A QuickLift™ incision begins in the hairline at the temples, continues in front of the ear and around the back of the ear and ends in the hair of the scalp. The incision is like a seam in clothing. It is impossible to remove the extra skin without an incision. The more skin that needs to be removed, the longer the length of the incision. Incisions normally heal extremely well and are nearly invisible. The QuickLift™ incisions tend to be in front of the hairline at the temporal area, because the lift is more vertical, thus, the hairline can be preserved.
Added step: If the neck is a problem or concern, sometimes a small incision is placed under the chin to remove fat and tighten loose muscle bands.
Step 2 – Undermining, or loosening the skin
Next, the surgeon gently loosens the skin from the underlying muscle (SMAS). Much less loosening is required for a QuickLift™ than a traditional facelift. Less loosening means less time, fewer complications, less bruising and swelling, and quicker healing.
Added step: Fat may be sculpted away from the neck and jowls, and fat might be transferred to cheeks or tear troughs.
Step 3 – Tightening the Muscle (SMAS)
The muscle layer is tightened with up to three purse string sutures, creating a quick but natural tightening to the entire muscle layer of the face. This suturing technique is what makes the QuickLift™ possible.
Step 4 – Closing
This is the final tailoring step, where the skin is re-draped over the uplifted contours, excess skin is trimmed away, and the incisions are meticulously closed with removable sutures. We use removable sutures to improve the healing process and minimize scarring. No drains are needed.
Pain from the QuickLift™ is usually minimal. Patients usually experience tightness in the cheeks and neck and some soreness in the jaw for the first few days while eating or opening the mouth. Pain pills are provided, but are usually not required after a couple of days. It is uncommon for patients to have significant pain.
The decision to have a QuickLift™ is extremely personal, and you will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks are acceptable. In general, the overall risks are very small for QuickLift™ surgery. In addition, there may be a different procedure more suited to your needs, such as a nose lift, ear or chin reshaping.
We will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo including the risks.
- Scars. Facelift scars vary from person to person, but QuickLift™ incisions heal extremely well and are usually very difficult to see
- Hematoma (collection of blood under skin)
- Slow healing
- Bruising and swelling
- Temporary numbness
- Possibility of revisional surgery
It’s very important to ask Dr. Alexander questions about your QuickLift™ procedure. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with us.
Important Terms to Know
Anesthesia — General: The patient is asleep, requiring that the airway be protected either by a standard breathing tube or by a laryngeal mask (LMA), an inflatable mask that is placed in the back of the throat but not down the trachea. An anesthesiologist releases gases through the airway which put the patient asleep. Drugs may also be given through the IV.
Anesthesia — Local: the surgical area is numbed up, but the patient is awake. Sometimes a patient will be given an oral medication, like Valium, to help with relaxation.
Anesthesia — Sedation (Twilight) Anesthesia: the patient is given an iv, and is made sleepy with medications given through the iv. The level of sedation can be adjusted, from barely sleep to very sleepy. Sometimes sedation is given by the surgeon, and other times it is administered by an Anesthesiologist.
Hematoma: An unwanted collection of blood under the skin.
Hypertrophic Scar: A hyperactive, usually temporary scarring process that makes a scar raised and red, sometimes called a “baby keloid.” This is more common in patients with pigmented complexion and more common on the chest, trunk, and shoulders, and very uncommon on the face and neck.
Jowls: Soft bulges that sag along the jaw line, usually caused by loss of muscle tone in the lower face.
Tear Trough: A groove below the lower eyelids extending from the nose across the upper cheek.
Mesolabial Fold (Marionette Lines): The crease that extends from the corner of the mouth down the side of the chin.
Nasolabial Fold: The crease that extends from the side of the nose to the corner of the mouth.
SMAS: The Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System, the superficial layer of muscles in the face just below the skin and subcutaneous fat.
Tear Trough: A groove below the lower eyelids extending from the nose across the upper cheek.
Although our society is increasingly geared toward instant gratification, rushing the healing process is never a good idea. It’s easy for patients to get a little too active too quickly. The body has its own pace, and your body’s recovery speed is unique to you. As with any procedure, we have specific guidelines for preparation and recovery.
Recovery times vary from patient to patient. Recovery from a QuickLift™ procedure, which tends to take about 4-10 days, with the average patient looking very good at about one week. Traditional facelift recovery takes an average of 8-20 days. Bear in mind, however, that these are averages. Some individuals may heal much more quickly, while others may take longer to fully recover. A patient who tends to have more bruising and swelling than normal will take longer to heal. For the QuickLift,™ most patients should allow one week before returning to work and other normal day-to-day activities and about two weeks before working out.
Following your doctor’s instructions regarding medications and other post-operative measures is key to a quick recovery. Herbal medications are available to reduce swelling, bruising, and to speed your recovery.
It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Avoid wearing any clothing that must go over your head. We will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
You will need someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
When your procedure is completed, a bandage could gently be placed around your face to minimize swelling and bruising. Although a bandage is not absolutely necessary, it greatly decreases swelling and speeds up your recovery time. It is also a reminder to take it easy for the first day or two. It is normal for the face to feel tight.
You will be given specific instructions that include:
- How to care for the surgical site
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in overall health
- When to return to the office
We will see you the day after surgery, then on the 4th or 5th day to remove some sutures, and again on the 7th day to remove the remainder of the sutures. At one week you can resume normal activities. At two weeks you can begin light exercise, and at three weeks there are no restrictions.
It’s natural to feel impatient about seeing the “new” you, but you’ll need to be patient as your face heals from the surgery. The visible improvements of a Quicklift™ appear as swelling and bruising subside. It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate and up to 6 months for incision lines to mature. Once healed, the incision lines from a facelift are well concealed within the hairline and in the natural contours of the face and ear.
Because I have worked with so many patients, I can look at someone relatively early in their recovery and say, “You look great,” even though that patient can only see how they look that day — not how they will look a few weeks later. Your final result should not only restore a more youthful and rested appearance, but also help you feel more confident about yourself.