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I often blog about making the decision to have a facelift and, once you have done so,  how to choose the right plastic surgeon.

The term face lift includes a myriad of options that are very different from each other. It is not like buying a car, where you know which model you like and you have to shop for the lower price or the best deal.

The issue is a lot more complex even though the financial component plays a significant role.

In this prospective, I will divide the potential patients in three groups so you can see which group you fit into.

The first group, which is probably the smallest of the three, is made up of people to whom “money is no object”.  They want the best and don’t care how much it costs.  The biggest mistakes that this group makes are:

  1. Picking the most expensive surgeon on earth, mistakenly thinking that price equals talent and ability.
  2. Picking the most famous surgeon with the most media exposure.    You can’t believe everything that is in the media.  Often these surgeons spend big money to get themselves on these shows or in magazines and no amount of money can buy training, talent or experience.  I believe that sometimes the less qualified surgeon will take the “media” route because he doesn’t have the skill or talent to make it without this kind of exposure.

Picking a surgeon in the above two ways is the “easy” route.  It’s much harder and more time consuming (time is a commodity to many wealthy people) to do your homework and actually research each surgeon.  Also, they are often used to exclusivity so they want to pick a one of kind plastic surgeon and they use price as a selection criteria. Of course, the most experienced plastic surgeons command higher fees: in fact there is little difference in fees among the top surgeons. But when you find a plastic surgeon whose fees are 3-4 times what the most reputable ones are charging, that by itself it is a red flag. Think about it: his results should be 4 times better than the most experienced plastic surgeons.  In the 25 years I have been practicing (and the thousands of facelifts I have seen), I have never seen a surgeon deliver results that were that much superior.

Assuming that the plastic surgeon on the reality TV show or in the media was selected based on his/her surgical skills it is also a common mistake: there are so many other factors involved in casting these shows such as:  affability, personality and  looks.

Don’t fall for it: do your homework.

The second group of patients consists of people who can afford to have a face lift done by a reputable plastic surgeon who specializes in facelift and they are willing to do some homework. Here the decision is harder. Since money is not playing a big role, the decision should be made on real facts.

Most of the plastic surgeons considered for the job are well trained, they have excellent credentials and, once you meet them they have good bed side manners.

In this case the decision should be results driven. You need to become an expert in analyzing before and after pictures and compare the actual results of the 2-3 possible candidates. Base your decision on the best. Also try to understand what the differences are in technique between plastic surgeons you are considering and compare them. Usually, different techniques deliver different results. If somebody tells you that with a tiny incision they can correct all the signs of an aging face, don’t believe it. Also if they tell you that the surgery is going to take only one hour and the next day you will look good, beware. Of course, it is possible to deliver natural, long lasting results with less down time. But when it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

The third group consists of people who may not be able to afford to have a facelift.  This group often bases their decision on price not results. They are willing to settle for an “improvement” rather getting the very best result.  This is the “something is better than nothing “attitude.  The problem with this is that it can be very dangerous or at the very least very disappointing.   The top plastic surgeons are expensive and there is no way around it, period.  If you bargain hunt for a plastic surgeon then you may get what you pay for, unfortunately.

My best advice for this group is to wait, save enough money to go to an experienced plastic surgeon who specializes in facelift.

A Harvard professor said something that I think is really fitting (I’m paraphrasing here) :   “nobody really needs to listen to Beethoven, but you do it because it makes you feel better.”

Well, nobody really needs a face lift, so when you decide to do it, do your homework!  Remember; it’s surgery not a facial!  Don’t base your decision solely on the financial aspect.