Toxins, fillers, lasers—they’ve comprised the bulk of the beauty world’s breaking news since the dawn of Botox for cosmetic use. And for good reason: Line-smoothing shots (Botox and now Xeomin and Dysport) and contour-restoring hyaluronic acid fillers (like Restylane and Juvéderm) are pretty freaking miraculous. And remember when we heralded the arrival of skin-tightening treatments, like Thermage and Ultherapy? Sharpen a jawline without a single prick!
But against this backdrop of flashy nonsurgical breakthroughs, a veteran anti-ager has been quietly rising up. More people—over 28 percent more—got face-lifts in 2015 than in 1997 (five years before the birth of Botox), according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Turns out, all those quick shots and no-downtime lasers haven’t nudged the surgery closer to extinction. They’ve actually brought it out of the shadows. Noninvasive treatments “have de-tabooed plastic surgery by letting people dip a toe in the waters of this world,” says Marc Zimbler, an assistant clinical attending professor of facial plastic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. And soon they’re ready to jump off the diving board.
It helps, of course, that the face-lift has enjoyed a makeover of its own in recent years. “Twenty years ago, the surgeon who did the tightest face-lift was considered the best,” says David Rosenberg, a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. Not so today, as significant advances are helping surgeons achieve far more natural-looking results while minimizing scarring and downtime. That’s even piquing the curiosity of fortysomethings who’ve experienced the limitations of nonsurgical tools—namely, their inability to transform the lower face and neck in a meaningful way.