Five years after their facelift, three-fourths of patients still look younger than they did before the surgery, according to research in the December issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

“This study provides strong evidence that facelift surgery can provide significant long-term aesthetic gains,” write study authors Barry M. Jones of King Edward VII Hospital in London, and Steven J. Lo of Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit in Glasgow.

The researchers analyzed photographs of 50 patients who had undergone facelift surgery an average of 5 1/2 years previously.

They looked at objective measurements such as jowl height and the angle of the chin to the neck, subjective assessments of key areas including lines from the nose to mouth and mouth to chin, and overall subjective assessment or global score of the patient’s appearance.

The improvement in jowl height decreased by about 20% during follow-up, and the angle of the chin to neck lost 70% of the improvement.

Subjective assessments showed lasting improvement in lines running from the nose to mouth and mouth to chin. These improvements showed little deterioration in the years since surgery. Again, the loss of improvement appeared greatest in the neck area.

“Scoring suggested that 76 percent of patients will still look younger 5 1/2 years after a facelift than they did prior to the facelift,” the study authors write. “The longevity of facelift surgery is a key question that has not been adequately addressed by previous studies.”

The results suggest that, more than 5 years after facelift surgery, “There is no significant objective or subjective sign of continued aging or ‘relapse’ in any area except for the neck,” they write. “The vast majority of patients will continue to look better several years after surgery than they did before.”