Facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) has traditionally been the go-to procedure to address facial aging.  While surgical facelift has benefits, today, there are non-surgical options that can address a broader spectrum of age-related concerns from which patients can choose.  Nonsurgical options, like nonsurgical facelift or liquid lift, can rejuvenate areas that traditional facelift surgery cannot.

Here we’ll examine the differences between surgical facelift and nonsurgical facelift to help you navigate treatment options and decide which may be right for you.  To get started, we’ll look at the face in 4 areas:  Upper, Mid, Lower face, and cumulatively the Full Face.  Each area has its own characteristics of facial aging.  Addressing the specific needs of each area is important when considering surgery or Full Face Treatment with Illumination 360°.

Anatomy of the Aging Face

As we age, tissue (skin, fat, muscle, and bone) changes occur.  Overtime, collagen, bone density, and fat layers diminish causing an overall loss of volume.  Changes in one tissue layer can affect other layers resulting in a greater visibility of lines and wrinkles, hollowness, flattening, and thinning in the upper and midface.  Jowling, sagging, and loose skin can appear in the lower face.  Restoring lost volume is key to rejuvenating the aging face.

Anatomy of the Aging Face

Volume Loss

  • Volume Loss
  • Under Eyes
  • Midface
  • Cheeks
  • Lips

Sagging Skin

  • Corners of the mouth
  • Chin/Jawline/Jowls
  • Neck

Lines & Wrinkles

  • Forehead & between the brows
  • Corner & under of eyes
  • Sides of the nose
  • Vertical lip lines
  • Corners of the mouth
  • Chin

Surgery or Syringe?


Facelift or rhytidectomy is a surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia to reduce sagging skin and wrinkles caused by aging or weight loss.  Facelift surgery removes excess skin, tightens the underlying muscles, and re-drapes skin in a higher position primarily in the lower face (chin, jawline, and neck).  It does not address areas of the upper face (eyes, cheek volume, forehead, etc.).

Treatment Areas: Lower face (chin, jawline) and neck

Method: Surgery

Procedure Time: 4+ hours

Anesthesia: General

Recovery: 30 days

Scarring: Possible (around the ears or side of face)

Not Helpful for: Upper face (eyes, brows, cheeks, lips), volume loss

“Facelift is the best option for tightening and lifting excessive lax skin, especially at the neck.  In many ways, a facelift can be called a ‘neck-lift’ as it addresses the lower portion of the face and neck.”

- Dr. David Mabrie

Liquid Lift (Full Face Treatment) with Dermal Fillers—Nonsurgical

A Liquid Facelift (or Full Face treatment) uses dermal fillers and neurotoxins such as BOTOX® Cosmetic to restore facial volume, reduce wrinkles, and enhance facial features to rejuvenate, shape, and sculpt the face. Dr. Mabrie performs Liquid Facelifts in our office and the procedure takes approximately 60 minutes.

Treatment Areas: Full face (under eyes, cheeks, midface, lips, chin, jawline)

Method: In-office procedure

Procedure Time: 60 minutes

Anesthesia: Local to numb the area

Recovery: Return to normal activity immediately. Swelling may take 2-4 weeks to completely resolve

Scarring: None

Not Helpful for: Neck; excessive sagging/loose skin in the jowls and under the chin

Facelift Surgery or Liquid Facelift—Which Is Right for Me?

Tighter isn’t always better. As wrinkles and fine lines develop and the face loses volume, you may feel that those signs of aging don’t reflect the youthful energy you have. But taking the first step to rejuvenate your face so it looks refreshed, healthy, and natural can be a bit daunting. Our approach is designed to make you look like yourself and age-appropriate—finding Your Perfect Face.

Taking our quiz can help you decide if a Liquid Facelift is best for your concerns or if facial plastic surgery is a better option. Give yourself 1 point for all that apply and then tally the total.

Facial Aging Quiz

Under eye dark circles, bags, or hollows

Sagging Cheeks

Midface Volume Loss

Nasolabial Folds (folds on the sides of the nose to the mouth)

Marionette Lines (folds/lines near the corners of the mouth to the chin)

Volume loss in the lips and/or vertical lip lines

Jowling and/or folds and heaviness in the chin/jawline

Neck sagging and excessive skin



If you scored 3 or more, you may be a good candidate for a Liquid Facelift to correct volume loss in the upper face that a facelift won't address. A score of less than 3 means your primary concerns are with the lower face and neck, which facelift surgery can improve.

Filler Can Compliment a Facelift

Choosing the right procedure does not necessarily mean ruling out another procedure. In fact, patients planning facelift surgery or previous facelift patients can benefit from volume replacement, contouring/definition, and enhancement. Fillers can “complete” the limitations of surgical facelift.

“Anyone who would benefit from surgical facelift could also benefit from Full Face treatment.  The procedures are complimentary where each has unique benefits to rejuvenate the aging face.”

- Dr. David Mabrie

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do I Prefer the Nonsurgical Facelift?

Years ago, I decided to specialize in non-surgical facial rejuvenation because I believe that a less invasive approach and more manageable cost means I can help more people look like the best versions of themselves. I also prefer interacting with patients during the procedure and maintaining an ongoing patient relationship. I find I can create a more tailored result with injectables and there are fewer safety risks involved.

What Makes a Good Liquid Lift Candidate?

A patient with skin that retains most of its elasticity, but who is concerned about lost volume in the upper and lower areas of the face, can get exciting results from a Liquid Facelift. Dr. Mabrie can restore youthful contours and minimize shadows and wrinkles to create a refreshed, healthier, more luminous appearance.

Age: How Old Should I Be to Consider a Liquid Lift?

Women and men are usually in their mid-30s or older when they begin noticing volume loss and other early signs of aging. Using fillers and neurotoxins to create youthful contours helps patients maintain a refreshed appearance.

What Is the Cost of Facelift Surgery Compared to a Liquid Facelift?

The cost of plastic surgery and nonsurgical aesthetic treatments vary depending on the geographic area of the practice and the experience and training of the provider. Here in the Bay Area, a facelift performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon ranges from $20,000 to $36,000. The cost of a Liquid Facelift is about $6,000.

When Can I Return to Work and Regular Activities?

A facelift is performed using a general anesthetic and the recovery can take up to 30 days. Most patients take about 10 to 14 days off from work after the surgery. If you’re planning to attend a significant social event, such as a wedding, you should plan the surgery for at least 6 months prior to the event to ensure you’re completely healed. A Liquid Lift is performed at our office using only local anesthetic to numb the treatment area. There is no downtime needed and you can go back to work after your treatment.

How Do I Get Started?

Dr. Mabrie works with men and women from throughout the Bay Area including San Francisco, Oakland, and Walnut Creek. Request a consultation online or call us at  (415) 445-9513 to schedule an appointment.

Dr. David Mabrie

For more than a decade, Dr. David Mabrie has been perfecting his technique for optimizing facial beauty with dermal fillers. He is the only facial plastic surgeon in San Francisco whose practice is focused entirely on injectables.