Originally published on ElleCanada.com.
Facelifts have recently been undergoing their own transformation.
After years of using dermal fillers, Sabrina Rinaldi was left with a discoloured complexion and starting to resemble a stranger; going under the knife proved to be the only way for the 44-year-old to feel more like herself. The Toronto-based makeup artist has long found cosmetic surgery to be a confidence booster. She sees the procedures she has had—including rhinoplasty, liposuction and breast augmentation—as a sort of extension of makeup. “I can contour my face with makeup, and I can also contour my face with surgery,” says Rinaldi. “The two go hand in hand.” By sharing her experience, she hopes to help normalize and destigmatize the once taboo topic. “But it’s still something that people don’t openly discuss,” she says.
After attempts to dissolve the filler with injections of hyaluronidase (an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid) failed, Rinaldi began researching alternative solutions. “I had so many years of compounded filler that I needed to surgically remove it,” she says. Her underlying motive was to reconnect with herself. “I realized that [these procedures]—mainly the fillers—were giving me a different face. And I wanted my face; [I wanted] to go back to what my face was—just a tighter version.”
Dr. Andrew Jacono, facial plastic surgeon and founder of New York Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, describes Rinaldi’s experience as “filler fatigue.” “When a skilled cosmetic dermatologist uses small amounts of filler in the right places, the results can be positive,” he says. “But when the face is overfilled—and unfortunately this can be seen almost everywhere we look—the skin can be stretched. There comes a point when fillers do not produce the same results they used to,” says Jacono. A facelift can address this issue as the surgeon can remove the filler and bring back natural proportions while evening out the patient’s complexion.
In 2019, Rinaldi decided that a facelift was the best way to course correct and achieve her long-term beauty goals, so she started saving up. “The mainstream idea around a facelift is that you wait until you’re in your 60s, when everything is fully sagged, and then you snatch it up,” she says. “But by getting it done in my early 40s, at the onset of [signs of] aging, I get to age with this face.” With results lasting for 10 to 15 years sometimes up to 20—it’s a strategy that’s part of a growing trend. The average age for a facelift at Jacono’s practice ranges from 47 to 53. “Now more than ever, I see patients in their 40s who want to ‘prejuvenate’ and restore a more youthful appearance before their faces age too much,” he says.
Facial surgery has also been on the rise at ICLS Dermatology & Plastic Surgery in Oakville, Ont. Cosmetic plastic surgeon and co-founder Dr. Julie Khanna identifies social media and Zoom as influences on this trend. “Everyone is looking at themselves, and we’re very critical [of] ourselves,” she says. She sees facial procedures as being on a spectrum and believes in tailoring options according to a person’s quality of skin, desired outcome, genetics and age, among other factors. “A facelift is a great operation for the right patient,” says Khanna. “But it shouldn’t be the only one. I want to make sure that people have choices.” Though she does perform volume-conserving facelifts, mini neck lifts (which sculpt and lift the jawline) have become her most popular procedure. As part of her approach, she recommends that patients have additional treatments like radiofrequency resurfacing or a laser peel. “Surgery is going to improve the quantity of skin,” she says. “But the technology improves the quality to give you back your glow.”
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