San Diego Facelift Specialist | La Jolla Mini Face Lift Surgeon

Looking for the best facelift in San Diego? The happiest face lift patients are the ones that do their homework before surgery. You can never ask too many questions or do too much research.

Whether you are a better candidate for a mini facelift, a midface lift or a lower face and neck lift can seem confusing at first. Within this page we hope to provide a little clarity about the different types of facelift procedures Dr. Kolstad offers at his La Jolla Facial Plastic Surgery office.

Facelift surgery is the ultimate solution for facial aging. It redefines and accentuates the youthful contours of the face and neck. A lower lift is the ideal treatment for improving sagging jowls, falling cheeks and loose neck skin. With so many facelift surgeons in San Diego it can be hard to find the right one.

Dr. Kolstad is a Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon. He does not perform breast or body plastic surgery. By focusing all of his expertise on rejuvenation of the face and neck Dr. Kolstad can design a facelift that best fits your unique features.

There are no lasers, ultrasonic devices or chemical peels that can reverse the effects of time and gravity better than a lower face and neck lift. Period. Some facelift surgeons rely on pulling the skin tight in order to achieve a lift. In San Diego there are many examples of facelifts that were pulled too tightly. Shortcuts taken during surgery can lead to a stretched, plastic appearance.

Dr. Kolstad’s facelift surgeries take him 3-5 hours to complete. He believes the key to natural results is taking the time necessary to complete the steps without rushing through cases. Choosing the right strategy is very important to achieve natural looking results.

Many faces benefit from facial fat transfer to restore lost volume.  Occasionally a platysmaplasty or submentoplasty are required to get the best results. Dr. Kolstad offers a variety of complimentary procedures to match your features and create the best facial rejuvenation strategy for you.

Dr. Kolstad learned his technique from one of the best facelift surgeons in the world. He spent an entire year in New York working exclusively with one of the world’s premier Facial Plastic Surgeons. “You do not learn plastic surgery from a book or by watching a video. You learn to become the best by working with the best.” Dr. Kolstad brings this carefully guarded facelift technique to his practice in La Jolla.

At our practice we offer many different surgeries to lift the jowls and tighten loose neck skin.    During your consultation Dr. Kolstad will help you decide if you are a better candidate for a liquid face lift, a neck lift, a short incision facelift, a minilift or a SMAS facelift.

There are many methods to redraping tissues that have sagged and succumbed to the forces of gravity. Dr. Kolstad will tailor your surgery to meet your specific needs. Every person ages differently and recognizing the best combination of techniques takes years of training and experience.

During your consultation you will be given the opportunity to address your concerns and dislikes about your appearance. Dr. Kolstad will then walk you through a step-by-step approach on what can be done to improve your neck and jaw line. You will be amazed with his knowledge of available techniques, and you will help him choose which treatment strategy works best for you.

Dr. Kolstad’s practice if fully devoted to plastic surgery of the face and neck. This narrow focus of expertise distinguishes Dr. Kolstad from many of his peers who did not complete advanced fellowships in Facial Plastic Surgery.

Many patients are led into believing that adequate face lifts can be achieved without incisions or with a mere hour and a half of surgery. Dr. Kolstad will not take shortcuts, “Achieving the best, naturally” says it all.

At Kolstad Facial Plastic Surgery our patient safety is paramount. Dr. Kolstad believes the safest place to perform a facelift is in a state-licensed surgery center staffed with board-certified anesthesiologists and nurses.

In La Jolla facelift surgery can be performed under intravenous sedation (twilight sleep) or under general anesthesia. The face lift incisions are placed around the ears and occasionally underneath the chin. The operation may reposition the jowls, address platysmal banding or treat loose skin in the neck. Overnight drains are occasionally placed depending on the degree of surgical dissection.

Many times patients will request just a “neck lift”. It is important to know that patients are rarely satisfied with just a neck lift. Why? When excess neck skin is removed, the lax skin of the face bunches up in front of the ears and the look is unnatural. If a San Diego plastic surgeon tells you they can do a neck lift alone, we strongly encourage obtaining a second opinion before proceeding.

What Is The Best Face Lift For Me?

The Ideal Facelift in San Diego

Every face is unique. Dr. Kolstad’s expertise in Facial Plastic Surgery allows him to design a lift that is best for you.

The Natural Face Lift

Our Mini Face Lift

Short Incision Facelift

 Liquid Facelift

* Individual Results May Vary

San Diego Facelift Frequently Asked Questions

facelift incisions and scars copy

A) The front incision can be placed behind the ear cartilage (tragus) to conceal the scars visibility.
B) In some faces the front incision is placed into a natural crease in front of the ear to minimize the visibility. Dr. Kolstad will discuss which approach and incision is best for your particular features.
C) The posterior incision extends from the earlobe and gently curves into the hairline for camouflage.
D) A small 1.5 centimeter incision is placed into one of the creases under the chin. After this incision is closed using plastic techniques it fades and is very hard to distinguish from a natural chin crease.

Dr. Kolstad recommends taking 10-14 days to recover from face lift surgery.  There are several visits during the first week to check on the healing and make sure that all of your questions are answered.  Many of our patients do not complain of significant pain during the recovery period.  Typically many patients require only Tylenol for discomfort after the first couple days after surgery. Prescription pain medicine is made available to you and we recommend that you have it available in case it is needed.

Many of our patients have a similar experience during the facelift downtime:

Day after surgery: Dr. Kolstad removes the surgical pressure dressing and any drains.  He inspects the face and neck for proper healing.  Dr. Kolstad reviews the instructions for cleaning and moisturizing the incisions to prevent scarring.

Five days after surgery:  Dr. Kolstad begins the suture removal process around four to five days after surgery.  The external sutures in front of the ear are removed and the incisions are covered using steri strips.

Seven days after surgery:  Dr. Kolstad removes the sutures around the earlobes and loosens stitches behind the ear.

Ten days after surgery: All remaining sutures are typically removed. The face and neck will look swollen but many people feel comfortable enough to return to work. For people wanting to take extra time to make sure the bruising is gone we recommend taking two weeks to recover. Dr. Kolstad advises initiating scar creams over the face lift incisions.

Seventeen days after surgery: Dr. Kolstad meets with the patient, examines the incisions and clears them for full activity. Dr. Kolstad reviews instructions including range of motion activities and massaging exercises.

Six weeks – 12 months after surgery:  Dr. Kolstad uses many injectable medicines to make the scars dissolve throughout the year.  Some patients are recommended to return every month for injectable steroids some are seen less frequently.  Dr. Kolstad takes a very hands-on approach during the facelift recovery in order to achieve the best possible result.

You will have a soft dressing covering your neck and cheeks. You may go home after surgery as long as you have someone to observe you for a 24 hour period. We request that our out of town patients stay in the San Diego area for at least one day after face lift surgery.
Most people take about 10 days off of work to recover. By the tenth day, all sutures and clips have been removed, the majority of the swelling has resolved and any residual bruising can be camouflaged with make-up.
Many of our patients do not complain of significant discomfort, with the majority using only Tylenol as needed. Prescription pain medicine is made available to you and we recommend that you have it available in case it is needed.

A frequent concern of our patients is looking plastic after facelift surgery. There are limitless examples of unnatural, operated results. When surgeons pull too tight, the corners of the mouth can change, the neck looks stretched and the skin can lose some of their natural contours.

It is very important to choose a plastic surgeon in San Diego that specializes in operating on the face and is comfortable with the challenging anatomy and procedures.

Every incision on the body will result in some form of a scar. Dr. Kolstad uses special plastic surgery techniques to repair all of the incisions for a face and neck lift. For the first few weeks and months the incision may have a faint rosy color. Any redness can be easily camouflaged with a bit of make-up. Over time the color will fade and throughout the year the incision will look better and better. The goal is for the incision to fade into a faint line in front of the ear that is barely perceptible.

face lift scar                                     facelift scar

Example 1 of Face lift Scar at 1 Year                                                  Example 2 of Facelift Scar at 1 Year

                                                                    * Individual Results May Vary

The most powerful surgery to lift the jowls and tighten loose neck skin is a full lower face lift. Dr. Kolstad’s Natural Lift takes him 4-5.5 hours to complete depending on the complexity of the surgery and the persons anatomy.

This type of procedure is most commonly performed in a plastic surgery center using general anesthesia. Full lower facelifts cost range from $10,000 to $13,000. The price includes the plastic surgery center facility fees and anesthesia costs for a 4-5.5 hour surgery.

One of our most common procedures is a mini face lift. This procedure can be completed in the office using a combination of local anesthesia and oral sedation. Many of our patients prefer to have this surgery performed in a plastic surgery center using full anesthesia as well.

Mini face lifts cost range from $6,000 to 9,000. The price includes the plastic surgery center facility fees and anesthesia costs for a 3-4 hour surgery.

A neck lift is designed for someone with loose neck skin without a prominent jowl. It is common for someone who had a facelift in the past to need a neck lift without having to redrape the facial skin. This procedure can be completed in the office using a combination of local anesthesia and oral sedation. Many of our patients prefer to have this surgery performed in a plastic surgery center using full anesthesia as well.

Neck lifts cost range from $4,000 to $6,000. The price includes the plastic surgery center facility fees and anesthesia costs for a 2-3 hour surgery.

A short incision face lift elevates the jowl and improves the jawline. A “S” lift is designed for someone who does not have significant signs of aging and does not require lifting loose neck skin. This procedure can be completed in the office using a combination of local anesthesia and oral sedation. Many of our patients prefer to have this surgery performed in a plastic surgery center using full anesthesia as well.

Short incision face lifts cost range from $4,000 to $6,000.

Revision face lifts require more time to complete and more surgical expertise to perform. Scar tissue from previous surgeries makes dissection more difficult. Improving scars from previous facelift surgeries is a frequent concern of our patients.

Revision face lifts are performed in a plastic surgery center using general anesthesia. Revision lower face lifts cost range from $12,000 or more depending on complexity and scar tissue. The price includes the plastic surgery center facility fees and anesthesia costs for a 4.5-5.5 hour surgery.

Absolutely! Many of our patients choose to enhance their facelifts with the addition of smaller procedures. For results to look perfectly natural sometimes adjunctive treatments are required to create balance.
Submental (Under the Chin) & Neck Liposuction:

Removing unwanted fat can dramatically improve the jaw and neckline. The fat underneath the chin can prove resistant to weight loss and creates a blunting of the neckline. Even after redraping loose neck skin if the submental fat is not adequately treated the results will be limited. No additional incisions or scars are required for neck liposuction.

View examples of Neck Liposuction.
Facial Fat Transfer:

As we age our face loses volume similar to a water balloon becoming deflated. Many surgeons rely on pulling the skin tighter and tighter to address loose skin created by facial volume loss. Simply pulling the skin tighter is a common cause of the unnatural, plastic looking facelift results. The most natural way of restoring your youthful cheek contours is through fat grafting. Facial fat transfer is the process of removing unwanted fat from the belly or hips and transferring it to the deep folds around the nose and mouth, tear troughs, and cheeks.

Find out more about Facial Fat Transfer.

Chin Implant or Prejowl Implant:

As we age we lose bone density. Many people are familiar with osteoporosis of the arms and legs. A similar process occurring in the face leads to loss of chin and facial skeletal volume. An anatomical chin implant can be used to augment lost volume in the jaw. No additional incisions are required for chin implant augmentation.

Read more about Chin Implant Surgery.

Complimentary Procedures

Looking to make the most of your face lift? Additional procedures can be helpful in achieving the most natural looking facelift results.

A mini facelift is designed to lift the jowls and tighten loose skin in the neck. A mini facelift is known by many names: La Jolla Lift, Lunchtime Lift, Quick Lift, Weekend Lift, Easy Lift and the now defunct, but previously nationally known Lifestyle Lift. Regardless of the trademarked name mini facelifts rely and similar basic principals.
The best candidates for mini face lifts have mild to moderate jowls and other early signs of facial aging. Minilift surgeries have many similarities to Dr. Kolstad’s full lower face lift procedures but have important distinctions as well.

The incisions for a mini face lift and a full lower facelift are the same. Both procedures also lift loose facial and neck skin equally well. The most important difference between a mini face lift and a full lower facelift has to do with the muscle layer underneath the skin.

The muscle layer of the face is typically referred to as the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system). As the facial skin loses elasticity and begins to sag similar changes are occurring to the SMAS. Very heavy jowls are almost always due to sagging of the SMAS.

Dr. Kolstad’s mini face lift tightens, lifts and redrapes the SMAS layer. The SMAS is lifted in a very safe and noninvasive way to tighten a sagging jowl. A small amount of SMAS dissection lessens the downtime of a facelift and speeds the recovery. Extensive SMAS is not indicated for mild jowling and only lengthens the period of recovery as well as the duration of surgery and time under anesthesia.

How is Dr. Kolstad’s mini face lift different than other surgeon’s mini lifts?

Many surgeons are unable or unwilling to tighten the SMAS during a mini face lift surgery. The SMAS requires years of training and technical precision to get right. Some surgeon’s “mini facelift” will tighten then skin and avoid the SMAS entirely. Face lift surgeries that only tighten loose skin will lead to short-lasting, over-pulled results.

Dr. Kolstad’s mini face lift will always include a variable degree of SMAS lifting and tightening.

Is Recovering From Facelift Surgery Difficult?

A concern of every facelift patient is what happens when they go back to work.  Will people know they had surgery?  Will they look plastic after a facelift? Listen to one of Dr. Kolstad’s patients describe her experience about going back to work after surgery.  This public speaker was able to confidently return to her everyday routine and was surprised how no one could tell that she had surgery only ten days before.

Returning To Work After Face Lift Surgery.

Is There Pain After Facelift Surgery?

* Individual Results May Vary

Dr. Kolstad – Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

PDFFacelift Before & After Surgery Instructions

Dr. Kolstad’s Face Lift Blogs & Additional Information

facelift or sculptra

Should I Have a Facelift or a Laser?

Facelift surgery is the ultimate solution for facial aging. A lower facelift or necklift is the ideal treatment for improving the jowls, falling cheeks and a blunted neckline. For many people a facelift can turn back the clock 10 years or more. In San Diego and La Jolla the cumulative years of sun exposure are a major factor in premature facial aging. The main advantage of a facelift is that it tightens the skin as well as the deeper muscle and fibrous layers beneath. However, a facelift is not for everyone, and other skin tightening options are available.

The primary benefit of nonsurgical options is that they require little to no recovery period. There is no anesthesia or sedation involved making nonsurgical facelifts cost less. The results will not be as noticeable with nonsurgical tightening procedures.

There are two main alternatives to traditional facelift surgeries. Skin tightening lasers are very common and have demonstrated good results. The primary benefit of a CO2 laser is skin resurfacing and smoothing of pigmentation spots and softening of skin creases. There is some benefit seen in skin tightening, but it is more of a touch up. A laser treatment will not tighten the deeper muscle layers underneath the....

face lift vs sculptra

There is no single event that defines facial aging. Rather, several independent phenomena evolve over time changing the way our face looks in the mirror. Cumulative years of sun exposure accelerate the aging process in San Diego and La Jolla.

As we age we lose fat and volume in our cheeks. In addition, the fat that remains succumbs to gravity and descends into areas where fat is not supposed to be located. What is left is hollows around the eyes, prominent tear troughs, nasolabial folds and sunken cheeks.

There are many options for replacing the lost facial volume. Injectable Fillers like Sculptra, Juvederm, Radiess, Restylane, and Perlane restore volume to areas where it was lost. In Dr. Kolstad’s La Jolla Plastic Surgery office he uses the optimal filler for each specific area of volume loss. Sculptra is the gold standard for restoring volume to the cheeks and temples. Juvederm augments lips and the nasolabial folds. Restylane is very smooth and best treats the thin tissue around the eyes.

Injectable fillers are best placed by a specialist in facial rejuvenation. Adding volume to the face will soften many unfavorable contours that result when fat descends or is lost. Sculptra can be used to enhance a facelift, but does not replace it.

What is the Difference Between Sculptra and a Facelift?

how to find the best face lift surgeon

One of the most important aspects of cosmetic surgery is choosing the right surgeon. In California, and in particular Southern California there are hundreds of providers all seemingly offering the same service. The good news for the patient is that most surgeons performing face and neck lifts are well-trained and can achieve good results. Also, being located in a region that has many providers allows the patient to choose the surgeon that is the best fit instead of being the only surgeon in town.

Finding the best face lift surgeon requires a bit of research, but all the necessary information is only a few clicks away.


1. In my opinion the two medical boards that best regulate the credentials of their members are the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Your surgeon should be board certified/eligible by one of these boards. In addition, oculoplastic surgeons are qualified to perform eyelid and brow lifts.

2. Check the website of your state medical board to see if a surgeon has any actions / censures against them. Bad apples will typically have multiple complaints.

3. Your surgeon should be able to perform the facelift at...

How To Find A Facelift Specialist

best face lift surgeon

HOW TO evaluate facelift before and after images:

The best face lift surgeons will be able to show you photographs of their work. There should be a series of 5 photographic views for every patient: front, right and left side, right and left oblique views. Be weary of a surgeon that only shows you a couple of the “best” views and hides the rest.

Pay attention to the jaw and neckline, the jowls and fat underneath the chin. Make sure the before and after images are as similar as possible. If the patient is not wearing make up in the before images she should not be wearing makeup in the after images. Some surgeons try to improve their after photos by asking the patient to stick out the chin and extend their neck. Make sure the hair is pulled behind the ear to evaluate the position of the earlobe and scars.

The best facelift surgeons will be able to show you examples of their incisions and scars. Every incision will result in a scar and there is no way of doing this surgery without a scar. A good facelift scar will appear as a faint line in front of the ear and be only barely perceptible at speaking distance.

HOW TO FIND the best facelift surgeon patient reviews:

How Can I Find the Best Face Lift Surgeon?

liquid facelift

Do Liquid Facelifts Really Work?

A “liquid facelift” is a popular term for nonsurgical facial rejuvenation. A combination of dermal fillers, volumizers and Botox can provide a noninvasive solution for a refreshed, rejuvenated look. A liquid facelift works best on faces without significant laxity or advanced signs of aging.


As your skin ages it loses collagen and the collagen that remains becomes haphazardly organized. The loss of collagen leads to the appearance of fine lines and creases. At the same time bundles of elastin in the skin lose their spring and the skin begins to sag, most noticeably in the jowls and neck.

For people looking to avoid the downtime of surgery a combination of injectable therapies can be used to create a liquid facelift. In Dr. Kolstad’s La Jolla (San Diego) plastic surgery office common products used to achieve a liquid facelift include:

Sculptra Aesthetic

During your liquid facelift consultation, Dr. Kolstad will determine what...

facelift and liposuction

If you are looking to enhance your face lift results, ask Dr. Kolstad if you are a candidate for the following options.

Face and Neck Enhancement Options

1) Face and neck lipocontouring. If you have stubborn deposits of fat that do not respond to diet and exercise, contouring through liposuction may be the best option for you. With this procedure, excess fat can be removed, and a firmer, more appealing profile can be achieved. A face and neck lift is designed to remove the excess skin, but it does not change the volume of fatty adipose tissue in the neck. If you have excess lipo tissue, your results may be enhanced through lipocontouring.

2) Lipotransfer to the face and neck. Unwanted, excess fat can be removed from you abdomen or thigh areas. The adipose tissue is then carefully cleaned and centrifuged to remove any excess red blood cells and oils. The purified lipoglobules are then transferred to areas of your face and neck requiring more volume. Most commonly, volume is added to the lips, nasolabial folds, melolabial folds, cheeks, temples, and tear troughs. Virtually every area that temporary fillers are placed can be permanently augmented with long lasting lipotransfer.

3) Corset Platysmaplasty. Have you noticed two bands running down...

Are There Other Procedures To Enhance A Facelift?

Pulled too tight after facelift.

Help! My Skin Was Pulled Too Tight After a Facelift.

An unfortunate complication of a facelift is skin that is stretched too tight during the closure. Suturing the skin together under tension can lead to an unnatural, pulled appearance (windblown face) or unacceptable scarring in front of the ears. This completely avoidable complication is actually becoming more frequent.

Why is an avoidable facelift complication becoming more common? A recent trend has increased the incidence of skin being pulled too tightly after a facelift. A desire for minimally invasive, 60 minute facelifts with less downtime has actually increased the risk removing too much skin.

A traditional facelift is performed in two layers: the skin layer and the muscle layer. In this type of facelift the muscle layer is sutured tightly to improve the jaw line, neck and jowls. The muscle layer gives results up to 10 ten years. After the muscle layer is recontoured the skin is lightly draped over the top and sutured together without any tension.

In comparison, a 60 minute facelift / lunchtime lift...








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