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New Facelift Procedure

Advances in Surgical and Non-surgical Facelifts

Sydney cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr Darryl Hodgkinson keeps at the forefront of new developments in the field and travels regularly overseas to learn about advances and improvements to existing procedures.

One of the newest procedures to reach Australia from the US is the Thermacool facelift, also known as ‘Thermage’. Having been available in America for several years, this nonsurgical rejuvenator will be introduced to Australia in 2005 and Dr Hodgkinson will become one of the first practitioners in Australia to offer it at his Double Bay clinic in Sydney.

The Thermacool facelift involves passing radiofrequency into the tissues to firm them. Each patient is treated with a 2x2cm head on a machine that delivers the radiofrequency. It travels through the skin, heats underneath and reacts with the tissue underneath.

‘Radiotherapy has been used as a cutting and heating tool in surgery for a long time, like laser,’ explains Dr Hodgkinson. ‘It is not going to burn your skin. I expect it to be popular with clients not wishing to have incisions or the downtime of a traditional facelift but who are seeking equally impressive results.’

According to Dr Hodgkinson, who has learned Thermage under practitioners in Baltimore, Maryland, the Thermacool facelift is especially effective in dealing with fat distribution problems.

‘I suspect it will be most useful on two types of patients: those who are ‘too early’ for a traditional facelift – say, in their late 30s or 40s. This will firm their tissue. And secondly, the patient who has had a facelift and after five or six years it’s starting to loosen up with a little bit of jowling plus mid-face and brow drop.’ All up, the procedure takes about one hour and can be done as an outpatient with simple sedation or under a general anaesthetic. Patients can return to work the next day, although optimal results will be seen in two to three weeks.

‘Eventually, I expect Thermacool will become a viable alternative to liposuction or dermal fillers,’ opines Dr Hodgkinson. ‘Compared to liposuction, Thermacool is less invasive, has a shorter downtime and is a more controlled procedure.’ Thermacool is expected to cost about half the price of a traditional facelift and is expected to last up to four years.

Another procedure Dr Hodgkinson is very enthusiastic about is volumetric facial enhancement.

‘As we age, the upper and lower jawbones shrink, which is why our cheeks get flat and the tissues sag,’ he explains. ‘People with very strong cheekbones age better than those with weak cheekbones but those with flat cheekbones look prematurely aged.

‘A lot of people talk about injecting into the face to plump it up. We don’t do that – what we do is enhance the bones of the face or what we call ‘volumetric enhancement.’ We use cheek implants; they are like a cup that sits on top of the bone. They’re placed through the mouth. When the appropriate shape is chosen, it gives the upper face an enhancement and rejuvenation, taking away the deflation or insufficiency. Volumetric enhancement on the bone makes a highlight that lifts the mid face visually.

‘On the lower jaw, you can get sagging of the tissue, like people who lose their teeth. The bone gets smaller and the tissue gets smaller. We find that volumetric enhancement of the chin re-establishes the dimensions of the degenerating lower jaw and can improve the overall result of a facelift.’

Chin implants come in a variety of sizes and are placed either in the mouth or under the chin. They can be done as part of a facelift or in a younger patient without the facelift.

Before and After Facelift by Dr Hodgkinson
Before and After Facelift by Dr Hodgkinson
Before and After Facelift by Dr Hodgkinson