Facelift results may not last forever, but secondary facelifts achieve similarly lasting results with a low complication rate, according to a study in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®.

Researchers who were led by Rod J. Rohrich, MD, and colleagues of University of Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, report their 20-year experience with secondary facelift surgery from 1990 through 2010. Of more than 800 facelift operations performed during this 20-year span, 60 were secondary facelifts (57 women and three men). The secondary rhytidectomy patients were 51 years of age on average when they had their first facelift and 60 years at their second facelift. The results of the initial facelift lasted an average of 9 years.

Of the 60 patients undergoing a secondary facelift, 10 later underwent a third facelift procedure. The time between the second and third procedures was 7.5 years—suggesting that the results of the secondary facelift lasted about as long as those of the initial procedure.

The complication rate after secondary rhytidectomy was about 5%, which is similar to what is seen following primary facelift surgery. There was no increase in the rate of facial nerve injury after secondary facelift, the study showed.

Still, secondary facelift procedures may require some unique surgical techniques. “Adherence to the five R’s of secondary rhytidectomy (resect, release, reshape, refill, and redrape) will enable the plastic surgeon to safely restore youth and correct stigmata of primary facelift,” the study authors write.