What Is the Difference between Plastic Surgery and Skin Tightening?

Did you know that multiple treatments lift the face without surgery? While there is nothing wrong with the decision to get a facelift, there are risks such as facial nerve injury, fluid accumulation, hematoma (broken blood vessel), infection, pain, swelling, scarring, and sutures protruding under the skin. 


What is a facelift?

A facelift or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that stretches facial tissues to give them a lifted look. There are primarily two types of facelifts: traditional facelifts and limited incisions. Both include three steps: anesthesia, incision, and closing the incision. 

Photo cred: Sing Health


Traditional facelifts involve cutting the skin around the ear and hairline, then stretching it behind the ear and to the lower scalp. Next, the excess skin is cut off. During facelifts, plastic surgeons can also redistribute fat from the face, jowls (loose skin below the jawline), and neck. Underlying facial tissues can also be repositioned, and the skin can be redraped or stretched over these new uplifted contours. 


A limited incision 

A limited incision is typically for people who do not want a full facelift, substantial changes, an extensive recovery period, or the higher cost of a more invasive procedure. 

A limited incision or a “mini facelift” mostly works on the lower face like the jawline and neck. It can even help with sagging skin under the chin. A mini facelift makes incisions in the front of the ears. This incision extends from the hairline to the bottom of the earlobe. The surgeon will then gently pull the skin and tissues up and outward behind the ear. Excess skin and tissue are removed to tighten the appearance of the skin.

Photocred: Dream Plastic Surgery


Additionally, many other facelifts are less invasive like an endoscopic browlift. Endoscopic browlifts lift the brow from the inside out. It’s not a full facelift, but it will also give you a lifted appearance. There are also thread lifts. More specifically, there are PDO lifts. PDO lifts are a type of thread lift. 

PDO thread lifts have a much lower risk of complications than facelift surgeries. When performed by a trained professional, there’s less risk of scarring, severe bruising, or bleeding. “PDO threads are made from colorless polyester that breaks down in your body after about 6 months. The presence of these sutures in your skin triggers cells in your body called fibroblasts to produce more collagen" (Cleveland Health Clinic).

However, there are many ways to get a lifted look without plastic surgery. There’s radiofrequency, microneedling, and skin tightening. 


Skin tightening treatments

Some skin tightening treatments use focused ultrasound energy, and some use radiofrequency. Ultherapy or ultrasound energy heats deep layers of the skin and induces collagen production to help the skin become firmer. But, ultrasound uses sound waves whereas radiofrequency uses electromagnetic radiation.


Photo cred: Newport Plastic and Reconstructive Therapy

Radiofrequency uses electromagnetic waves to heat the dermis (the deep layers of your skin) This heat stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is the most common protein in your body, and having more of it improves wrinkles and sagging skin.


Skin tightening

Because these are technically not plastic surgeries, celebrities who get these treatments often say,  “I’ve never had plastic surgery” even though the effects of radiofrequency are amazing, especially when coupled with microneedling. Cassandra has done this treatment, and it helps so much with collagen building, fine lines, and wrinkles.


Skin tightening treatments vs plastic surgery?

Determining whether to get a skin tightening treatment or plastic surgery depends on the results you want. Plastic surgery is not meant to make the face look like someone else. It is to enhance your natural beauty. You’ll want to ask yourself the following questions: 1) How much downtime am I willing to undergo? 2) Do I want to enhance my features or simply give them a more lifted and tighter look? 3) What has my physician told me about my options? 

Overall, both treatments can be helpful tools for self-confidence. However, it’s important to remember that our path to body satisfaction or a positive self-image begins within. The most important work we’ll ever do is our progress towards self-love apart from physical appearance.

Cover photo cred: Tatitana Foxy - istock