Every week I have a patient sit in front of me during a facelift consultation and tell me that whatever I do during the surgery, she does not want to come out looking like Kenny Rogers, the American singer whose multiple bad facelifts and brow lifts have left him with a perpetual sardonic smile and surprised look.
The facelift patient obviously wants an improvement in their appearance and the opportunity to look better, but not at the price of looking too “pulled” or having that “windswept look.” Everyone rattles off the name of some poor has-been actor or actress who now looks atrocious after some “cosmetic surgeon for the stars” tried too hard to give them something they cannot—youth—by pulling on their skin.
I have written in the past about my philosophy of what a good cosmetic surgery should achieve. I believe that the whole art of cosmetic plastic surgery is to return the body to normal. Unfortunately, for those of us destined to live on this planet, normal in terms of our brains refers to a goddess/god between 18-25 years of age! Plastic surgery therefore tries to bring our cerebral image of normal to bear upon jellied fat and skin. When your face starts to fall, we need to lift it back up to where it was in our youth—when we looked normal. An aging body or face is not normal!
The loss of facial tone is often dramatic and sudden. The plastic surgery patient runs in terror to the cosmetic surgeon and says, “Pull it as tight as you can.” Some plastic surgeons do just that: they pull the skin very hard and leave you with a forced, fake smile that is a telltale sign of a facelift. Unfortunately, so many women have had these bad facelifts that some think this is the way you are supposed to look after a rhytidectomy and are unhappy if they don’t get that horrible look.
Some surgeons are skilled at judging the amount of pull on a face with the patient under general anesthesia and with no muscle tone. Most are not. The unresisting muscles of the face and the attached skin get pulled too tight in those cases.
I prefer to perform my facelift surgery with the patient under sedation and local anesthesia to prevent the windswept look. As I pull the skin and muscles back, the patient counters with their intrinsic muscle tone and prevents me from going too far. This technique has worked well for me over the years.
I love the look of wind in the hair, but you don’t want your face to look like you’re in a wind tunnel. Try to have your board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon give you a natural look—that will look normal.