Background: The ideal face lift has the longest efficacy, the fewest complications, and ultimately, the highest patient satisfaction. With so many different techniques, there exists a need to make this comparison and to establish which approaches may work best in various groups. To date, there has been no systematic review to study the efficacy and complication rates among different face-lift techniques. This study aims to make this comparison. Methods: A systematic search of the English language literature listed in the MEDLINE (Ovid MEDLINE 1950 to November of 2009 with Daily Update), PubMed, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) databases yielded trials on comparison of different face-lift techniques in their efficacy and complication rates. All relevant articles' reference sections were studied for additional relevant publications. Results: The keyword search yielded 39 articles. Eighteen more articles were retrieved from reference sections of relevant articles. Only 10 articles made a direct comparison of efficacy between face-lift techniques, and only five articles made a direct comparison of complications between face-lift techniques. Conclusions: Although this systematic review revealed a lack of quality data in comparing the efficacy and safety among different face-lift techniques, it is important to review and pool the existing studies to improve patient outcomes. This analysis has also shown the need for better studies, especially randomized, prospective, controlled studies, and a need for a standardized method of efficacy analysis and patient-reported outcomes measures to allow objective comparison of face-lift techniques.
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