Two Strategies, One Goal: Facelift and Chemical Peels


There are typically two approaches to facial rejuvenation: surgical and nonsurgical. A popular nonsurgical option is the chemical peel, while surgical options include the commonly performed facelift. San Francisco facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stanley Jacobs—who originated the SynergyLift™ that combines the best elements of both options—frequently explains the benefits of one approach, the other, and the two combined.

The Nonsurgical: Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is designed to “resurface” the skin by removing the dead outermost layers. There are several different types, with one of the most popular being the TCA (trichloracetic acid) peel.

For this treatment, a thin layer of the specially formulated acid is applied to the facial skin, where it works to dry out the cells there. After a few days, this dried-out skin begins to flake off. Since the outermost epidermis is where many marks and signs of aging appear, peeling it away can remove or reduce the appearance of fine lines, some scars, spots, redness, and an overall look of aging.

Patients can expect ultimate results to include smoother skin and a more even tone. This is because the skin exposed by a chemical peel is fresher and younger, bearing fewer blemishes and marks. A chemical peel also triggers healing processes that prompt the face to create new collagen and elastin. This change starts about three weeks after a treatment, then continues for about five months, during which the skin becomes tighter, smoother, and less wrinkled.

While there is some redness—similar to a sunburn—to be expected after a peel, recuperation and recovery is generally limited to minimizing sun exposure for the days and weeks following a treatment. Because of the valuable collagen and elastin production kickstarted by this treatment, a single TCA peel can yield rejuvenating results that last three to five years. Even more, it reduces the chance of basal cell skin cancers by 50 percent.

The Surgical: Facelift

This procedure is ideal for patients who want to “turn back the clock” by addressing facial contours that have changed over time, such as the development of a softer jawline—or even jowls, the midface flattening or sinking into hollows, and deep creases forming due to diminishing skin elasticity and cumulative sun exposure.

While different surgeons offer different techniques, skill levels, and strategies, the basic goal of a facelift is to make strategically placed incisions, lift facial tissues into a more youthful position, suture them into place, and remove any excess skin. The result is smoother, tighter skin that features fewer creases and better shows off facial contours and angles. If handled by a surgeon experienced in considering the face in all three dimensions, approaching each surgery as both an artist and a physicist, a facelift can also create fuller, rounder cheeks.

As with all surgeries, a facelift causes some post-procedure bruising and swelling. Patients should expect at least several days of limited activity, as well as keeping their head elevated when lying down. A return to work or other daily activities can typically happen in a couple of weeks.

While scars are a part of any surgery that involves incisions and sutures, a talented cosmetic surgeon will hide them in natural lines and creases, where they will likely go unnoticed.

Facelift and Chemical Peel Combined

It may seem obvious that a surgical facelift to address contours would pair well with a nonsurgical chemical peel to address texture and tone, but the two different cosmetic options must be combined with precisions and care. Early efforts by plastic surgeons seeking to give patients the simultaneous benefit of both often yielded dead skin and poor results.

Dr. Jacobs studied more than 1,200 cases and years of real-world trials to determine that a facelift and peel can be combined when low-strength TCA peels are applied slowly and carefully to facelift patients.

Patients tend to find that the dual procedures create results greater than the sum of either part alone.

For more information about chemical peels and facelift surgery, contact San Francisco Bay Area facial cosmetic surgeon Dr. Stanley Jacobs. He calls the combined technique he developed the SynergyLift™, which he now recommends to about two-thirds of the patients who come to him for facial rejuvenation. Contact The Jacobs Center for Cosmetic Surgery by calling his Healdsburg office at 707.473.0220 or his San Francisco office at 415.433.0303, or send a message online.

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Categories: Beauty Lifestyle