Facelift: Deep plane vs. SMAS – A practical guide to Facelifts

Anti-Aging, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, Face

2 minute read


A facelift is a procedure tailored to the individual needs of the patient. There are several different approaches that plastic surgeons can use, depending on the concerns and goals discussed during the consultation. The SMAS and deep plane facelift are two effective techniques that yield beautiful, natural-looking results. Though they are different, both share the same goal of minimizing signs of aging and restoring youthful contours to the face.

Here, Burlington plastic surgeon Dr. Douglas Grace breaks down the facelift techniques into detail.

Understanding The SMAS Lift

The SMAS facelift concentrates on the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which is the underlying layer of facial muscles. The SMAS is adjacent to the platysma muscle in the neck, so the SMAS lift improves the lower face and neck, as well.

During the SMAS lift, the SMAS, which becomes loose and saggy with age, is elevated and repositioned as the surgeon sees fit to “lift” the facial structures. Stitches are used to secure the SMAS layer into its improved positioned for long-lasting results.

SMAS facelift is typically performed through incisions at the temples in the hairline; the incisions extend along the edge of the ear and end behind the ear.

Understanding The Deep Plane Facelift

The deep plane lift is more advanced and powerful than SMAS facelift. During the operation, the plastic surgeon works on the SMAS layer and the deeper structures of the face. Very noticeable signs of aging, such as deep nasolabial folds (i.e., the grooves between the cheeks and lips) and heavier jowls (loose skin on the lower cheeks and jaw), can be addressed with a deep plane lift. In addition to tightening the SMAS layer, the cheek (malar) fat pad is elevated to improve the appearance of the mid-face. The neck and jawline are also tightened.

The deep plane facelift procedure is usually performed through incisions along the hairline and around the ears.

Choose Your Facelift Surgeon Carefully

The facelift technique used does not matter as much as the surgeon himself does. It is more important to choose a surgeon with demonstrated successful results and a great bedside manner that understands what you hope to achieve.


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