What Is a Deep Plane Facelift?


Facelift techniques are constantly evolving. Early facelifts focused mainly on tightening the skin by elevating the superficial soft tissue layers of the face. While this can deliver some improvement, it often creates a “tight” or “windswept” appearance that looks unnatural, and the lifespan of the results is limited.

As surgeons continued to refine their techniques, a new approach called the deep plane facelift emerged. A deep plane facelift goes beneath the superficial layers of the skin to reposition the fascial and muscle layers. By addressing these deeper structures in addition to excess skin, this advanced technique can provide longer-lasting and what some believe are more natural-looking outcomes.

What Is a Deep Plane Facelift?

Our faces are composed of several anatomical layers. The outermost layer is our skin. Below it is a combination of muscle and fascia called the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system). The SMAS sits atop the deep muscles used to make facial expressions.

When we refer to the “deep plane”, we are describing the anatomic area between the SMAS and the deeper layer of expression muscles. The deep plane technique focuses on adjusting these structures instead of on superficial skin pull and removal. The procedure also involves the release of four ligaments so that the tissues can be elevated without creating excessive tension or tightness in the skin.

The SMAS layer and the skin remain connected during a deep plane facelift. All the work happens underneath the SMAS, meaning that, although the technique goes deeper than other facelift techniques, less dissection takes place during the operation.

How Is a Deep Plane Facelift Different From Other Types of Facelift?

Dr Ellis Choy performs many different facelift techniques in order to customise each procedure to his patients’ needs. The goal of all facelifts is to give the skin a tighter and smoother appearance. However, the approaches differ in terms of which anatomical structures they target and the benefits they can provide. For example:

Deep Plane Facelift vs. SMAS Facelift

During a SMAS facelift, the skin and SMAS layer are separated and adjusted individually. This technique was an improvement on older skin-only techniques. The deep plane facelift lifts from underneath the SMAS while keeping the skin and SMAS connected. While outcomes can vary, many feel this produces more natural and durable results, as well as a more favourable recovery.

Deep Plane Facelift vs. Short-Scar Facelift

A short-scar or mini facelift is a less invasive technique that addresses only the lower third of the face. The incision starts at the temporal hairline, extends around the front of the ear and ends behind the earlobe. A deep plane facelift addresses both the lower face and the midface. The incision follows a similar pattern but continues farther around the hairline.

Deep Plane Facelift vs. MACS Facelift

A MACS (minimal access cranial suspension) facelift is a type of short-scar facelift that can be performed under intravenous sedation instead of local or general anaesthesia. A MACS lift allows for limited adjustments to the tissues, making it suitable only for younger patients with better skin elasticity. A deep plane facelift can produce much more significant changes.

What Are the Advantages of the Deep Plane Facelift?

The benefits of the deep plane technique include:

  • Lifts and sculpts the jawline and cheeks
  • Smooths nasolabial folds
  • Addresses age-related changes beyond surface-level wrinkles or skin laxity
  • Enables vertical lift in addition to lateral tightening
  • Creates less tension on the skin to avoid an overly tight appearance
  • Some patients experience a quicker recovery with less swelling and bruising
  • Preserves the integrity of the hairline and facial expressions
  • Results tend to be more durable compared to superficial lifts

RELATED: Deep Plane Facelifts and Fat Graft Facelifts

What Are the Potential Risks and Complications Associated With This Procedure?

There are inherent risks to any surgical procedure, and it is important for anyone considering a facelift to understand the complications that can occur. These include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding/haematoma
  • Skin loss
  • Hair loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Anaesthesia risks
  • Unsatisfactory scarring
  • Dissatisfaction with results

Dr Choy will discuss these risks, as well as any others that may be relevant to your specific case, before your surgery. It’s important to weigh them carefully against the potential benefits of the procedure.

Who Is the Ideal Candidate for a Deep Plane Facelift?

Good candidates for a deep plane lift include healthy men and women who are dealing with moderate to advanced facial ageing, but who still have relatively resilient bone structure and skin. Common concerns include:

  • Drooping of the midface and lower face
  • Jowls and loss of jawline definition
  • Deep creases extending from the nose to the mouth
  • Excess neck tissues 

The best candidates for deep plane rejuvenation also possess the following characteristics:

  • Non-smoker
  • Realistic cosmetic goals
  • General good health without conditions that impair healing

Due to the extent of change a deep plane facelift can produce, candidates are usually in their 40s or older with more advanced signs of facial ageing. In today’s social media-driven environment, people may be led to believe they need extensive surgery when it would not, in fact, be beneficial. If Dr Choy does not believe you would benefit from a deep plane facelift, he will not recommend it.

What Can I Expect in Terms of Recovery Time?

Generally, the initial recovery period after a deep plane facelift lasts one to two weeks. During this time, you can expect to experience some degree of swelling, bruising and discomfort, which gradually improve. You will be advised to rest, avoid strenuous activities and sleep with your head elevated during this time.

After the first two weeks, you may resume light daily activities. Because the deep plane technique focuses on deeper structures of the face and maintains more of the natural blood supply to the skin, overall healing time may be more rapid than with other types of facelift. Most patients can return to work about 10 to 14 days after surgery.

Will I Have Scars After a Deep Plane Facelift?

Scars are an inevitable part of any facelift procedure. However, the incisions used during a deep plane facelift are not as extensive as some other facelift techniques, therefore there is less post-procedure scarring. 

Additionally, because the deep plane facelift does not separate the SMAS and the skin, there is less tension on the incision lines once they are closed. This encourages the scars to heal into soft, flat lines.

RELATED: What Is the Cost of Facelift Surgery in Sydney?

What Is the Expected Lifespan of a Deep Plane Facelift?

A deep plane facelift aims to provide more substantial and long-lasting results than other facelift techniques. By addressing the underlying structures that truly support facial contours, the deep plane technique creates a strong foundation to sustain the results. Provided you maintain your weight and health, and take good care of your skin, you may enjoy the outcome for years.

That said, gravity and ageing will continue exerting their effects. Your skin and other facial structures will continue to age, and you may notice loose skin, lines or volume loss developing over time. If you wish, Dr Choy can discuss options to prolong your results in the years following surgery.

Meet Your Sydney Deep Plane Facelift Surgeon

The deep plane facelift is one of our most advanced options for surgical facial cosmetic surgery. As this approach is complex and highly technique-dependent, it is critical to select a specialist plastic surgeon with specific expertise and experience in this procedure.

Dr Ellis Choy offers discerning Sydney-area patients over 20 years of focused experience in cosmetic plastic surgery, including dedicated study of the deep plane approach. During your first appointment, Dr Choy will get to know your cosmetic goals and develop a customised treatment plan. He will ensure you fully understand your options so you can make an informed decision about how you would like to proceed.

To schedule your consultation with Dr Choy, submit an enquiry or call us on (02) 8962 9388.