SMAS vs Deep Plane Facelift: Know the Difference


If you are exploring types of facial plastic surgery, you may wonder about the differences between a SMAS vs Deep Plane facelift.

The complexities of the various facelift procedures can be overwhelming. While all facelifts aim to restore the look of smoother and tighter skin from your youth, how they do that varies. The Real Self magazine praised both SMAS and Deep Plane facelifts as being a next-gen alternative to old-school “skin only” facelifts, and they declared the days of the “windblown look” are over thanks to these facelift variations.

This article isn’t intended as a substitute for a consultation with a skilled plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery is highly personalized to the individual. You always need to consult with a plastic surgeon; that is the best way to figure out how to make your face look younger

What Happens During a Facelift

Before getting into the specifics of a SMAS vs deep plane facelift, it helps to understand what happens during a standard facelift surgery. A plastic surgeon makes incisions to access the area the work is focused on. Next, your surgeon removes excess skin, repositions fat and muscle, re-drapes the skin, and seals up the incision. The result is skin and muscle that fits smoothly against the face’s structure. When we are young, our skin naturally drapes this way, but the years, sun damage, and life cause our skin to sag and wrinkles to develop over the years.

Each facelift is a little different, just like each face is unique. A skilled plastic surgeon combines not only medical expertise but a sense of balance and what looks best for each face. It is truly a blend of art, science, and medicine.

The best approach depends on your needs and the condition of your skin, facial fat, and muscles. The layers of tissue in the face and neck are complex, as described in Aldrich J. del Toro’s book Extended SMAS Facelift. The face and neck have five layers of tissue, including the skin, the subcutaneous fat, the superficial fascia, the loose areolar tissue, and the deep fascia.

What is a SMAS Facelift?

The term SMAS refers to a submuscular aponeurotic sheath. Basically, your face has a network of fibrous tissues connecting the cheeks to the neck. It starts sagging during the aging process taking with it the skin on top.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons describes a SMAS facelift as one where the network of tissue beneath the skin, the facial muscles on top, and the skin are all repositioned to improve the contours of the face.

A SMAS Facelift may help improve the appearance of the following:

  • Sagging cheeks, including the fat pads on the cheekbone area
  • Nasolabial folds, which are the lines from the nose to the mouth
  • Hollow looking cheeks
  • Midface sagging
  • Jowls
  • Loose skin at the jawline, chin, and neck

 A SMAS facelift is a little less invasive, and there is less risk of facial nerve damage than with a deep plane facelift. It makes many people look at least ten years younger.

What is a Deep Plane Facelift?

You may wonder what is a deep plane facelift. Well, a deep plane facelift takes a SMAS facelift a little deeper or a bit farther. Your plastic surgeon moves all the layers as a unit. Many people find the results look more natural. In addition to the SMAS, deeper layers may also be manipulated during plastic surgery.

More issues can be corrected during a deep plane facelift, including improving definition in the facial structure, smoothing wrinkles, tightening lax or sagging skin, fixing drooping eyelids, and more. Since your plastic surgeon goes under the muscles, a deep plane facelift ends up fitting more snugly in the middle of the face than is usually possible with a SMAS facelift.

Many people find they look at least ten years younger after a deep plane facelift. The procedure is even more involved than a SMAS facelift, and the recovery or downtime is longer; usually, it takes weeks to recover. This means a deep plane facelift isn’t for everyone. 

Good candidates for a deep plane facelift include people who are:

  • Nonsmokers since smoking hinders your ability to heal
  • Generally healthy without serious medical conditions
  • Have sunken cheeks from lost facial volume
  • Want a more defined jawline or have a double chin
  • Have laxity or sagging in the face or neck; this may also include prominent jowls
  • Have realistic expectations about possible results

Schedule Your Consultation

The choice between a SMAS vs deep plane facelift is complicated. The best way to learn which may be best for you is to schedule a consultation with a skilled plastic surgeon.

If you live in the Charlotte, NC, area, we hope you will consider Charlotte Plastic Surgery. We have proudly served the community for decades and have a solid track record. We offer a variety of facial rejuvenation procedures.

Our doctors take the time to listen to you and see you as a whole person. We ask that you speak openly about your aesthetic goals, hopes, and concerns. Feel free to ask any questions you have, and we will show you examples of the kind of results others similar to you have experienced. Be sure to ask how to plan for your healing and recovery time. You will need to take time off work, but there are a range of individual factors to consider.

 Since we want to ensure your safety, we will also need to learn about your entire medical history. Please be honest about lifestyle factors like whether you smoke, any previous and ongoing health issues, medications you take, and unresolved symptoms you are experiencing. A facelift is an elective operation requiring full anesthetic. While a facelift is generally safe in skilled hands, your doctor will help you assess your risk level.

 Whatever kind of facelift you get, a consultation leads to your best results. If you and your doctor determine a facelift isn’t right for you, there may be other surgical or nonsurgical options that may suit your needs better. The world of aesthetic medicine and cosmetic treatments is progressing quickly.

 Contact us today to schedule your consultation.