4 Facelift Alternatives, According to Skin Experts

Woman rubs skincare into her face with both hands

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Let's start by addressing the very large elephant in the room: Nothing, and we mean nothing, out there—be it an in-office treatment or topical cream or viral TikTok hack—will yield results that can even come close to that of an actual, surgical facelift. "There's simply nothing out there that is going to give you surgical results," says board-certified plastic surgeon Sarmela Sunder, MD.

"Surgical facelifts give immediate and dramatic results, improving the appearance of skin sagging, deep folds, jowls, and a double chin," says board-certified dermatologist Y. Claire Chang, MD. (Yes, they can do all that.) However, facelifts are a) really only an option for those with moderate to severe skin laxity, and b) come with a list of associated risks and downtime, she points out. "For those who want to delay surgery, minimally-invasive skin tightening and lifting procedures are available," she says. Here, Sunder, Chang, and board-certified facial plastic surgeon Kevin Sadati, MD, weigh in on four of the best.

Meet the Expert

  • Y. Claire Chang, MD, is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City.
  • Sarmela Sunder, MD, is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills and the founder of Sunder Plastic Surgery.
  • Kevin Sadati, MD, is a board-certified facial plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, CA.
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What It Is: Both hyaluronic acid fillers (such as Juvederm) and biostimulatory options (such as Sculptra) can provide visible and immediate lifting as well as volumetric support of the face, says Chang. "As we mature, we lose fat, collagen, and bone, all of which are supporting structures for our facial skin. Fillers add back volume under the skin, effectively lifting it," she explains. Common areas where they're used include the cheeks, nasolabial folds, and jawline.

How Much It Costs: The price tag can add up pretty quickly. Chang says fillers can range anywhere from $850 to $1,500 per syringe (depending on the type of filler and the practice) and for lifting purposes, multiple syringes and multiple treatments are needed for maximum results. So, you're looking at thousands of dollars. That being said, the results can last for up to a year, if not more, depending on the type of filler and where it's injected.

How Invasive It Is: Very minimal. Filler needles are small, and the filler is often combined with a topical numbing agent to dull any discomfort. Swelling or bruising is possible, though there's no real downtime.

Lift Factor: Anyone who has lost even a little volume in their face is a candidate for filler, says Chang, While the lifting results may not necessarily be as dramatic as those of a facelift, the subtle enhancement is often ideal for those seeking a more understated boost to their skin.

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What It Is: "Morpheus8 is a combination of microneedling and radiofrequency," says Sadati. Tiny needles go as deep as four millimeters into the dermis, delivering radiofrequency energy that heats up the skin, in turn stimulating the production of collagen. Sunder says she likes radiofrequency technology in general, particularly for those who have laxity in the neck or jawline, and lauds the Morpheus8 for also helping to improve the overall texture and tone of the skin as well.

How Much It Costs: A full-face treatment can cost anywhere from around $900 to $1,850.

How Invasive It Is: Not very. Your face will be covered with numbing cream, and while the procedure can take up to an hour, downtime is generally just one to three days of some redness and swelling.

Lift Factor: RF technology is more about tightening laxity or loose skin, rather than lifting it. Case in point: Sunder says the biggest difference is seen when Morpheus8 is combined with another treatment, such as FaceTite. Speaking of...

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What It Is: "FaceTite is a cosmetic procedure that targets sagging skin and wrinkles, primarily on the lower half of your face," says Sadati. It too uses that same radiofrequency energy, though here it is paired with liposuction, he says. Anyone who has loose or sagging skin on the face or neck can be a candidate, and it's also safe for all skin types, he adds.

How Much It Costs: This depends if you're doing it on your entire face or just targeted areas; a full face treatment can average around $5,000.

How Invasive It Is: It does require minimal incisions, though without sutures or scarring. It's done under local anesthesia, and the areas treated are numbed so you shouldn't feel pain after the fact, though this is the most invasive treatment on this list.

Lift Factor: "FaceTite is a very popular alternative to the traditional facelift. While the results of a surgical facelift can last well over a decade, FaceTite results can last about five years," says Sadati.

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Thread Lifts

What It Is: Thread lifts have gotten quite a bit of buzz lately; they're not only being used on the face, but also on many different parts of the body. They're pretty much exactly what they sound like. During a thread lift, suture-like threads are delivered through cannulas under the skin to subtly lift it, as well as stimulate collagen, explains Chang. They ultimately dissolve and are absorbed by the body, which is why the effects are arguably the shortest-lasting of any treatment on this list.

How Much It Costs: According to Chang, treatments start at about $3,500 per treatment. (And if you want to maintain the results, you'll need a touch-up treatment every six to 12 months.)

How Invasive It Is: While it may seem counterintuitive, the actual process of inserting the threads is pretty minor; local anesthetic is used at each of the entrance points. Some swelling, bruising, and pain for one to two weeks after the procedure is possible, says Chang. Still, the whole thing can be done fairly quickly and easily, which is why it's sometimes referred to as a "lunchtime facelift."

The Lift Factor: A thread lift is fine for someone who wants a quick fix before a big event, but it's not going to offer sustained lifting, says Sunder. "They're great for collagen stimulation, and I've seen them help improve texture and even volume, but never give a true lift." Chang says the results are visible yet subtle, and that they're best reserved for those with only mild to moderate skin laxity (who, again, understand and are willing to undergo touch-ups as needed to maintain any results).

  • Can You Give Yourself an At-Home Face Lift?

    The short answer is no. Things such as facial massage and jade rolling can make skin appear more lifted, but the results are extremely short-lived. If you're looking for effects that last more than a few hours, in-office procedures, like the ones detailed above, are your best best.

  • How Do You Get Rid of Saggy Jowls Without Surgery?

    Generally speaking, a combination of in-office procedures that will address skin tightening and lifting in several different manners will yield the best results.

  • What Is the Best Alternative to a Face Lift?

    This depends on exactly how much your skin needs to be lifted, how invasive of a treatment you can handle, and your budget. The good news: The options really do run the gamut.

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