To a certain extent – and within reason – that’s true. As you can well imagine, it’s certainly more likely that we’ll get a more youthful look with a more youthful patient. Regarding the longevity of the result, the more healthy the tissue on which we’re working, the more likely it is to retain the results of the surgery, and younger tissue often translates to more healthy tissue. Also, it has been shown that younger people generally tend to be happier with smaller levels of rejuvenation than older people are with even more dramatic levels of rejuvenation.
That being said, volume loss and sun-damaged skin are better treated with volume augmentation and lasers respectively than with a facelift. Both of these conditions tend to show up earlier than the conditions that are best treated with a facelift, those being the effects of gravity, accumulation of fat at the jowl areas, and stretching and shifting of connective tissues beneath the skin.
Remember too, that any invasive procedure will alter the anatomy somewhat. Structures are moved and stitched into a different position, and the nature of some of the operated tissue changes just by virtue of the natural healing process. So the fewer times someone has a lift over the course of their life, the lower the risk of complications.
Chronological age has less to do with age than individual genetics and lifestyle choices. I remember one day when I was operating, I had a 48 year old and a 64 year old back-to-back. The scrub nurse commented that even before the surgery, the 64 year old looked closer to 48 and the 48 year old looked closer to 64. The bottom line is that “how old” we look is becoming less and less a matter of numbers.
Lastly, make sure your doctor is someone whom you can trust to have your best interests in mind. A couple years ago I had a patient from out of town who had been told that she needed several things done including a facelift, and the fees came to well over $17,000. She was a beautiful, fit 36 year old with a slight genetic obliquity under her chin rather than the well-defined angle we associate with a young neck. She also had some early hooding at the upper lids and the beginning of some volume loss between her cheekbones and her nose. She had absolutely no indications for a facelift, much in keeping with most women that young. I gave her the contour she wanted at her neck, restored her upper lids and gave her some volume where she had lost it for way less than what she had been quoted and with much less invasiveness.