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Non-Surgical Facelift

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  • Published

    November 22, 2021

  • Written by

    Dr Garth Dicker

As we get older there is a natural loss in volume of the skin and tissues of the face, as well as a loss of elasticity. This results in sagging skin and wrinkles which is particularly noticeable in the lower face. Procedures that lift and tighten facial tissues, add volume, and remove excess skin can give a much fresher and younger looking appearance by smoothing out folds and wrinkles. These procedures we call ‘face lifts’ and whilst they have historically been done with surgery, non-surgical facelifts are becoming highly sought-after alternatives.


When Plastic surgeons perform a Facelift (called a Rhytidectomy) the focus is on the lower two-thirds of the face. If the neck area is also a concern that is commonly treated at the same time (neck lift). There are a number of methods of performing a Facelift but the traditional Facelift involves an incision in the hairline near the temples around the front of the ear and back to the lower scalp behind the ears. If there is minimal skin sagging a shorter incision is used and this is often called a “Mini” Facelift. In a Facelift fat and excess skin are removed, and the underlying muscles and tissues are surgically tightened. A Facelift can be done in conjunction with other procedures such as a brow lift, eyelid surgery or nose reshaping.

The results can be dramatic and the results with a skilled surgeon typically last 10-15 years. A Facelift is major surgery performed under a General Anaesthetic and the cost in Australia with an experienced plastic surgeon can be in the order of 20-30K.


The term Non-Surgical Facelift is thrown around a lot, but it is really a marketing term rather than one specific procedure. There are certainly many different non-surgical procedures that can improve appearance and increase facial volume and try to lift sagging skin. Broadly Non-Surgical Facelift procedures can be considered in the 3 categories of Thread Lifts, Injectables and Devices. It is quite common to combine several non-surgical facelift treatments to give the optimum result.


Thread lifts are a minimally invasive procedure where very fine dissolvable threads (which are like the sutures used in surgery) are inserted under the skin to serve as an internal scaffold. This can result in a lift and tightening of the skin as well as stimulating collagen production. There are several types of threads such as ‘Silhoutte’ and ‘PDO’ and different thicknesses and shapes.  Their can be a short amount of downtime after a thread lift and there can be side effects such as the threads moving and inflammation.  The usual cost of a thread lift in Australia is around 5K with results lasting anywhere from one to three years. The cost of  a thread lift must be balanced against the shorter time span of results compared to surgery.


Dermal fillers can be used to add volume to the cheek restoring curves and lifting the folds between the nose and mouth, fill out hollow temples, smooth and lift around the corners of the mouth and define the jawline and improve the jowls. Certain dermal fillers can also stimulate collagen for several years after treatment. When dermal fillers are used to add volume and lift surrounding tissues it is sometimes called a ‘Liquid Facelift’.

When anti-wrinkle Injections are used, they can create a lift by stopping the contraction of muscles that are pulling downwards, then opposing muscles can take over and this then results in the lifting effect. This can be very effective in the upper face as a standalone procedure such as lifting eyebrows. In the lower face anti-wrinkle injections can be beneficial in lifting but typically as part of a combination treatment with dermal fillers. Common areas in the lower face that can be treated include the muscles that pull down the corner of the mouth and the muscles that cause tightening of the chin. There is also a procedure called the ‘Nefertiti Lift’ that is named after the Egyptian queen who had a famously beautiful jawline. Small amounts of anti-wrinkle injections are injected into neck muscles that are creating a downward pull on the jawline which then results in a lift and highlights the jawline.

Another injectable treatment used in rejuvenation is PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). In this procedure, a patient’s own blood is withdrawn from a vein, spun in a centrifuge, then reinjected back into their skin. It has been marketed in the USA as the ‘Vampire Facelift’. Whilst the PRP treatment can rejuvenate skin and improve fine lines and wrinkles it is not a lifting procedure as such.


For a medical device to tighten skin significantly it needs to be able to heat below the surface of the skin to a high enough temperature and deep enough that there will be stimulation of new collagen and/or remodeling of existing old collagen. Lasers can heat the surface of the skin very effectively and are fantastic for treating surface problems such as pigmentation and redness, but they do not penetrate very deep (less than 1.5mm) so any benefits for skin tightening are limited and only superficial. The 2 main types of devices that can deliver heat deeper into the skin are Ultrasound and Radiofrequency machines.

Ultrasound devices can deliver High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) below the skins surface. These can have targeted (focused) effects rather than bulk heating and can penetrate deeper than radiofrequency (around 4.5mm). As well as collagen effects HIFU can potentially target the deep lying SMAS layer of the skin (this is the deep tissue covering facial muscles that is tightened in Facelift surgery). HIFU devices such as the ULTHERA and ULTRAFORMER are painful so they do require some anesthesia but there is no downtime and results can last as long as 6 months.

Radiofrequency devices that directly heat the surface of the skin have the issue of how unpredictable heat applied to the skin’s surface is able to penetrate and to what depth. There is also the possibility that the high temperatures needed to stimulate collagen might burn the surface of the skin. Devices that deliver radiofrequency heat below the surface through microneedles achieve more predictable results and avoid damage to the skin’s surface. The INFINI is a great device that uses microneedles which can deliver heat as deep as 3.5mm below the surface without damaging the surface of the skin. (Infini RF Treatment Melbourne | Collins Cosmetic Clinic)

With the increasing trend towards non-surgical cosmetic procedures, at the Collins Cosmetic Clinic we are regularly asked about the latest non-surgical facelift choices. Realistic expectations are important as non-surgical procedures will not give the dramatic results that can be achieved by plastic surgery. However proven moderate results can be achieved that don’t require a general anaesthetic, cutting of the skin (and hence scarring) or significant downtime. Non-surgical procedures are fast and economical compared to surgery and allow you to temporarily try a new look, but non-surgical treatments must be repeated to maintain improvements.

If you have any questions about the type of non-surgical facelift procedure that might suit you best, feel free to contact our rooms by phone 0396545720 or email

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