This page covers the SMAS Facelift surgery technique. It provides general information only but you can arrange to see one of our Surgeons by phoning us on 1300 264 811. Please also visit our Types of Facelift Surgery pages for more information on different types of facelift procedures.
The SMAS Facelift (Rhytidectomy) is a type of Facelift Procedure
- SMAS is the common abbreviation for a tissue layer called the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System.
- A SMAS Facelift procedure refers to a surgical facelift technique where your Specialist Plastic Surgeon tightens the SMAS layer, along with overlying skin.
- This helps the surgeon to attain a more youthful position of your facial skin and underlying structures of your face.
- This can help you look MUCH younger than you did before surgery (on average, about 7 to 8 years younger for some patients).
The SMAS Facelift Surgery is rather extensive and complex, as it both lifts AND tightens your jowls, your neck and your cheeks. The results are often stellar in terms of rejuvenation and firmness, especially if the skin texture is also treated with a chemical peel or laser. But you must allow proper healing and recovery time. You’ll be very glad you did as this surgery can help turn back the clock on facial ageing! It won’t stop it of course, and results depend on what you’re starting with. But we focus on getting you a good, natural-looking facelift result.
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Why is SMAS a good Facelift Surgery approach?
There are many ways to tackle a Face Lift (Rhytidectomy).
With SMAS techniques and others that work NOT only with the skin, but with the SMAS layer, you can often gain a more natural-looking result that lasts longer than “skin only” types of lifts.
Many Specialist Plastic Surgeons who focus on Facelift Surgery use the SMAS Facelift technique as a preferred facial rejuvenation method.
Here are some specifics of how SMAS Facelift Surgery is performed by our Melbourne Specialist Surgeons including Facial Rejuvenation Specialist, Dr Richard Sackelariou.
Definition of Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS) – the technical bit
The SMAS consists of a relatively thin but continuous fibromuscular layer of fascial supporting tissues, which covers and surrounds deeper facial and neck tissues including adipose tissue (fat) and facial muscles as well as the cheek area of the face.
The SMAS tends to includes the skin covering these areas as well.
In terms of facial Anatomy, the SMAS attaches to the superficial muscle(s) covering the lower face along the jaw line as well as the neck (which are formally called platysma muscles).
The SMAS attaches to many different areas of the face.
This means a SMAS Facelift technique surgically elevates the entire underlying layers as well as the skin.
This helps lift and elevate the soft tissues or underlying structures of the face as well as the lax skin itself.
It results in patients getting a more comprehensive rejuvenation facial lifting effect from their face lift surgery.
See the illustrations above and below for details about the underlying facial structures that comprise the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS).
It’s easy to understand why this SMAS approach is sometimes a longer-lasting and more natural looking facelift method than some other forms of facial rejuvenation, such as the ‘mini lift’, in patients who’s facial skin and underlying facial structures have experienced the advancing effects of ageing.
What is a Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS) Facelift Surgery? Is it going to get a natural-looking facelift result?
A SMAS facelift procedure is one of the more modern methods of what was once called a traditional Facelift or a full facelift.
Early types of facial rejuvenation procedures were first performed around 1901 in Berlin. Initially, they tended to be overdone or done in a way that didn’t address the underlying facial structures. This was akin to pulling a blanket over the top of an otherwise unmade bed. OR they reduced so much skin and over-pulled the remaining skin that it looked ‘drawn’ and ‘tight’ – wind blown. Even today, less experienced surgeons can fall prey to getting this ‘overdone’ effect if they lack experience and surgical precision. In fact, we have been asked to do Revisional Facelift procedures (especially from patients who mistakenly went overseas for a so-called bargain) – but we prefer to help you get a good result the FIRST time.
Facelift surgery has come a long way since then, thanks to advances in medicine and anatomy understandings.
Modern Facelift Surgery is about the 6th most popular cosmetic surgery procedure each year. It has become a highly advanced procedure requiring utmost skill and a dedication to custom planning. You’ll be in great hands with our precision focused team of Surgeons.
How is a SMAS Facelift Surgery performed?
Details of your surgery are best discussed in person with the Specialist Surgeon, as what your situation might call for is likely to be different to another patient’s needs.
In general, a SMAS Facelift Surgery is usually performed by a Specialist Plastic Surgeon in an accredited Hospital facility.
Typically, you’ll stay at least one night in the hospital if not two (but this can vary from patient to patient).
What happens during a SMAS Facelift Surgery?
- During the SMAS facelift procedure, the Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System (SMAS) layer may be surgically “folded” superiorly and surgically attached to itself.
- This type of SMAS facelift technique is known as a SMAS Plication Facelift procedure.
- Alternatively, the SMAS may be tightened and lifted by surgically reducing a redundant portion of the tissues, then strategically reattaching the SMAS to itself via carefully-placed sutures in a more uplifted position (known as a facial surgery SMAS Resection or SMAS-ectomy procedure).
Both types of SMAS procedures tend to have longer scars than a Round Block facelift and may involve slightly longer healing periods than other types of surgeries – such as longer bruising and swelling during the recovery period.
But Surgeons and Patients may prefer a SMAS Facelift over a mini-lift due to it’s capacity for longer-lasting results that are also aesthetically pleasing and natural looking.
Difference between a SMAS Facelift and a Mini-lift
Patients may find the differences between Types of Facelift Surgery to be confusing.
There are many new methods available that claim less downtime and easier healing than the SMAS lift or even the Round Block Facelift.
These go by many names (some trademarked) such as LightTouch, Mini-Lift, LifeStyle Lift, MACS facelift, The S-Lift, Quick Lift, LiteLift, Liquid Facelift (the non surgical variety using fillers and anti-wrinkle injections) and others.
- Some less intensive options MIGHT be suited for younger patients or patients who are not interested in the longevity of the results of the procedure.
- Whereas a SMAS lift – done properly – will have slightly longer-lasting and more aesthetically pleasing results for men and women who’s faces are showing a lot of signs of ageing.
The best potential facelift results are also usually a result from a combined, customised approach including skin rejuvenation and muscle-relaxing injections. Combines approaches are usually required to get a stellar result.
But every patient is unique. It all depends on the patient, and their anatomy and facial ageing.
There may be more similarities than there are differences between these differently named “lighter face-lift touch” procedures. Some might tend to involve slightly smaller incisions for minimisation of potential facelift scars. They might have quicker recovery periods because they did less as a technique.
- Either way, you are likely to need to sleep upright for some time after a facelift of any type, particularly a SMAS procedure.
- And for comfort and safety, you’re typically better off in a real hospital theatre rather than a back room setting.
The ‘mini’ versions of a Facelift might be performed under LOCAL Anesthesia only with oral sedation in a back room facility. This means you could be awake during the procedure rather than under general Anaesthesia AND you might not have the care you need should something not go to plan. That’s why our Surgeons perform major surgery ONLY in a hospital setting. And as fully FRACS qualified Specialists, they have operating rights in hospitals (whereas Cosmetic Surgeons typically are not permitted to operate in a Hospital – that’s typically a Specialist’s option as they have more intensive long term training to gain the AHPRA Specialist Qualifications.
Getting a successful Facelift Surgery Result: The Importance of a Highly Skilled Specialist Plastic Surgeon
All surgery results vary from patient to patient and from Surgeon to Surgeon. It takes a fully collaborative effort to get a great result.
Good communication is also crucial.
Overall, what makes a SMAS facelift successful are numerous interactive factors. These include the skill of the Plastic Surgeon to the patient’s skin health to the overall facial structures of the patient.
There’s also the suitability of the selected type of facelift procedure to the patient (for example, SMAS or Round Block) in relation to the patient’s facial anatomy, skin health and ageing appearance concerns.
It’s critical you follow post-op instructions very carefully.
Other factors in getting a good facelift outcome include innate healing capacities, scar minimisation strategies, Rapid Recovery products including Healite II and other healing aids.
Facelift Surgery Results: Key Factors In Getting A Natural Looking, Good Facelift Result – The Skill of a Highly Experienced Plastic Surgeon is often Pertinent
You really do need a good Plastic Surgeon – someone who’s great at getting it right – with an Aesthetic eye and years of experience to get the most benefits from a facelift procedure.
For a SMAS facelift, your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will use his expertise to:
- engage in appropriate pre-surgery planning and facial analysis/key measurements
- control the lift directional vector
- know how tight to lift the SMAS
- know where to attach the SMAS
- not to go too deeply where underlying important structures could be harmed
Surgery Risks of a SMAS Facelift
All surgeries have risks and should never be entered into lightly or without full knowledge of the procedure. Your Surgeon will go over these in detail during your consultations and before you consent to your surgery, so always ask any questions you have. You want to be very comfortable with the expertise and experience of your selected Surgeon and feel comfortable to ask any and all questions you may have about the procedure, including risks and the fact that results can sometimes be unpredictable (each patient is unique and results can vary).
A good Surgeon for a facelift, however, will have extensive experience in the field of Plastic Surgery and facelift procedures.
In thinking of what Specialist Surgeon you are choosing for your SMAS Facelift or other cosmetic surgery procedure, it helps to understand that a Facelift is quite a complex surgical procedure in terms of facial anatomy, skeletal structures, muscles, fat, nerves, tendons and other structures relating to the surgery. Often, neck rejuvenation or a neck lift surgery and skin refinement may also be needed to get a great result from a Facelift surgery.
Important Information about Facial Plastic or Cosmetic Surgery
There are important facial nerves and blood vessels in your face and neck. Only a highly skilled Surgeon knows how to best work around these nerves and vessels in the safest way possible during a facelift procedure to reduce potential complication risks from a Facelift, such as the loss of facial sensations and/or skin, muscle, blood vessels or nerve damage).
Want to see “before and after” photos of SMAS Facelift Surgery? Want to meet our SURGERY team?
Visit our Before and After Facelift Surgery Photos or Register to come to one of our FREE information evening events.
Ask which EVENTS our Facelift Specialists (Dr Geoff Barnett and Dr Richard Sackelariou) will be attending.
OR schedule your confidential facial rejuvenation consultation by calling a Patient Care Coordinator on 1300 264 811 or sending an enquiry form, below.
What Can I Expect During My Facelift Recovery?
In a consultation with your Facelift Specialist Surgeon, you will be given specific information about what to expect.
In a general nature, most patients need about 2 to 3 weeks off from normal activities, such as taking time away from work or care of children or grandchildren, after having a SMAS procedure. Allowing good healing and recovery time is crucial, however, for best results from a SMAS lift – you’ll also want to follow your post-op care instructions very carefully.
After your SMAS Facelift or Rhytidectomy, your Surgeon will wrap the incisions in bandages and often places a drainage tube in the area of surgery, which tends to be removed the next day.
Here is a general synopsis of what you might experience AFTER a SMAS Facelift procedure by our Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeons as you heal and recover from cosmetic surgery.
- You may experience swelling, numbness, bruising, and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck area
- Your face may look uneven, swollen and distorted
- Your facial muscles and facial and neck area might feel a bit stiff or tense and uncomfortable
- These symptoms usually resolve within about 3 to 8 weeks, with facial sensations typically returning to normal within several months.
- Scars may look ‘angry’ initially (red, raised, lumpy or even itchy) as they heal, but they often fade for most patients over time, with full scar settling occurring in about 12 months or longer.
- You should be extra gentle with your skin and your hair as you recover.
- You may be offered Healite II treatments or other healing recovery aids such as a Rapid Recovery Pack (Melbourne patients)
- Men may need to shave differently, e.g. slightly more behind the neck or ears if areas of beard-growing skin have been surgically re-positioned during the facelift procedure.
What are the benefits of Facelift Surgery?
- Tighter, firmer smoother looking jawline.
- Younger looking lower face.
- Less “jowls” and more distinguished jaw area.
- Less sagging skin.
- The appearance of a reduced age by several years.
- Feeling confident in your looks again.
Our TOP Team of Surgeons can help you get the facial rejuvenation you are longing for. Phone us today!