It's a question local doctors' patients and even our viewers ask. What is the Lifestyle Lift?
And there are two sides of the issue, surgeons who believe in it and those who question it.
"I just feel great. I just feel youthful and that's all I really wanted. I wasn't expecting to look like a model," said Marion P. a Lifestyle Lift patient.
"You can really take 10 to 15 years off and look that good," said Tom W. another Lifestyle Lift veteran.
Both Marion and Tom appear in a video made by the Lifestyle Lift Foundation. And when the infomercials run in the New Orleans area for the Lifestyle Lift in Texas, Florida, Georgia and other places across the U.S., the phones of local doctors ring.
"As a dermatologist, I get asked a lot about plastic surgery recommendations as well as Lifestyle Lift," explained Metairie Dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris. who is a spokeswoman for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
"The Lifestyle Lift has been advertised heavily and my patients sometimes ask me about it," said Dr. William Coleman, a Dermatologic Surgeon in Metairie and Editor of the medical journal 'Dermatologic Surgery.'
And there are local patients who have made the trip to have one.
"I had two patients that traveled to Houston and they had the Lifestyle Lift," said LSU Health Sciences Center Plastic Surgeon Dr. Kamran Khoobehi who is in private practice in Metairie
Patients' main question is what is a Lifestyle Lift?
"The Lifestyle Lift is a procedure that removes years of aging from the face," said Dr. David Kent who is the Director and Founder of the Lifestyle Lift Foundation in Troy, Michigan.
He started the procedure 10 years ago for people who wanted less down time. There are now 32 offices around the U.S. with 80 board certified or board eligible plastic, or face and neck surgeons trained to do the procedure.
"It's done in a very safe manner in which most people can enjoy the benefits of it, anywhere from the ages of 45 on up," he explained.
The Lifestyle Lift takes about an hour and a half to perform. The neck, jawline, jowls, and mid-face are all lifted through a shorter incision than a traditional face lift. The patient is not asleep. A valium is given for relaxation but the patient is awake as the doctor uses numbing injections, like in a dentist's office, to deaden the area that will be cut. The incisions are put in the natural creases, in front and behind the ear, to conceal scaring. There could also be another incision under the chin. The patient may feel some tugging and hear and smell what's happening during the procedure in the O.R. but there should be no pain. The skin and the SMAS, which is the fibrous tissue under the skin that surrounds the muscle, are lifted. But while the mid-face is lifted, the brow is not. The eyes are not done either, unless the patient has asked the doctor to add that to the procedure. While the doctors stress this is not a one-size-fits-all-procedure, it is always done under a local anesthesia. And only a short flap of skin is lifted, not a large flap like in a traditional face lift.
"And what that does, is it decreases the risk of nerve injuries. It also makes the final result look very natural, not stretched or pulled and it also allows for a quicker recovery," said Dr. Kent.
It is surgery, so some people have swelling, bruising and discomfort, and infections can happen. No post surgical drains are needed. The doctor sees the patient again the next day and then a week or 10 days later to take the stitches out.
"There's minimal bruising and minimal discomfort compared to a traditional procedure when the patients go home. And more people find that Tylenol Number 3 or regular Tylenol and some ice is sufficient to take care of the postoperative discomfort," he added.
But some local doctors have concerns.
"When you pick your doctor and you certainly should check credentials and the reputation and so forth, but the other thing is what about your follow up. If you're going outside the country or to another state or to another city, remember things don't always happen exactly as they are supposed to happen and it's nice to be able to call your doctor and go see them whenever you want. So I think you need to look at what kind of follow up you're going to have," said Dr. John Lindsey, the Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, referring to infections and other problems that may arise.
"One of them had an issue with the scar that developed under her neck and she came to me to manage the scar because she said that she can not go back and forth to Houston and become, financially it becomes an issue too," said Dr. Khoobehi about his patient who had the procedure out-of-town.
Dr. Khoobehi feels the before and after pictures are misleading, because the patients are smiling in the after pictures which naturally lifts the face. He says the company was fined in New York for false patient reviews online. He and Dr. Lindsey feel the procedure is not new and that any good local doctor can do a version of the short scar or weekend type of lift for a competitive price, even though it's not under a marketed name. And they say patients should know the outcome may be less dramatic.
"I remember a plastic surgery professor of mine who used to say, 'Mini lift, mini results,' " said Dr. Coleman.
"I had two patients that traveled to Houston and they had the Lifestyle Lift and then she came back to me and they were not happy with the result and the main complaint they had was that they didn't see that much difference," said Dr. Khoobehi.
"Patients that I've seen that have had it done elsewhere, when they return couple of years later, they feel that it's completely gone two years later," said New Orleans Dermatologist Dr. Mary P. Lupo.
But Dr. Kent disagrees. He says stand by the 100,000 Lifestyle Lifts the doctors in his company have performed. He believes the results last as long as others and the procedure is much safer without the anesthesia risk. And he says at the doctor's discretion, they will redo someone who did not get expected results. He says his surgeons make it possible for people of moderate incomes to afford the procedure with a quick recovery. But he does agree that other doctors can perform a short scar type lift.
"Any doctor in the United States can do any procedure that they want and certainly plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons do all sorts of variations of face lifts, however one thing to keep in mind that's unique at Lifestyle Lift is our doctor's specialize in this procedure," said Dr. Kent.
Doctors say make sure your plastic surgeon is board certified in that field, and look at before and after pictures of the surgeon's work.
The basic Lifestyle Lift costs around $4,000. If you add other facial-rejuvenating procedures, it can go up to $8,000. Consultations are free.