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Mini vs. Full Facelift: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to facelift surgery, you don’t always have to go big or go home. Some patients can avoid the extended recovery time and risk of scarring that’s associated with full facelift surgery by having what is known as a “mini” facelift… But this lightweight procedure isn’t right for everyone. Here’s what you need to know in order to determine whether or not a mini facelift is right for you:

How is a Mini Facelift Different from a Facelift?

There are several variations on the mini facelift procedure, so the answer to the question above may differ depending on which plastic surgeon you’re speaking to. In general, however, a mini facelift involves making much shorter incisions in the skin (the mini facelift is also sometimes called a “short scar” facelift for this reason). Usually, just two small incisions are made in front of the ears. After these incisions have been made, the surgeon lifts just the mid-face (the area around the cheeks), rather than lifting the entire facial region. Unlike full facelift surgery, a mini facelift never involves auxiliary procedures like a brow lift or neck lift.

As you have probably surmised by now, the mini facelift creates much more subtle results than a full facelift. It’s only able to treat mild to moderate skin laxity of the neck and jowel. It will not, for example, get rid of prominent jowls, nor does it treat the neck area beyond providing a subtle lift.

However, while the mini facelift has some limitations, it has numerous advantages that make it appealing to suitable candidates. Most notably, it offers a much shorter recovery time; mini facelift patients often heal well enough to return to work within three to seven days. They also experience less pain and swelling during recovery (owing to the shorter incisions used during this operation). The mini facelift procedure carries a much lower risk of complications, too, thanks to the fact that it can be performed under local anesthesia. Finally, the mini facelift procedure is more affordable than a full facelift.

Who Makes a Good Candidate for Mini Facelift Surgery?

The vast majority of suitable mini facelift patients are younger—usually under the age of 45 or 50. People in their 30s and 40s typically exhibit only mild to moderate facial sagging, usually centered in the mid-face region, making them perfect mini facelift candidates. Unlike those over 50, they have not yet developed significant skin laxity throughout the face and neck region. Instead, they are usually experiencing mild skin laxity combined with some sagging of the superficial muscular aponeurotic system (SMAS).

Some patients who are in their 50s may also make good mini facelift candidates, however. People who have been very slim their whole lives, for example, may show less skin looseness around the neck and jaw. (While skin laxity is caused by age-related collagen loss, very thin people have fewer fatty deposits on their faces and necks. This leads to less stress being placed on the skin by the weight of subcutaneous fat, thereby mitigating some of the effects of gravity.) Additionally, patients who are willing to accept more subtle results in trade for not having to take much (if any) time off work often make good mini facelift candidates.

Above all else, it’s essential to keep your expectations realistic when considering this procedure. Ask your chosen plastic surgeon for before and after photos depicting mini facelift patients who are close to your own age. This will give you a good idea of what kind of results you’ll experience if you choose to have a mini, rather than a full, facelift.

Enhancing the Results of Mini Facelift Surgery

As a final note, it’s important to be aware that it’s possible to greatly accentuate the results of mini facelift surgery using nonsurgical procedures. Nonsurgical procedures will not add any additional healing time to your treatment schedule and they can significantly improve your level of satisfaction. Pairing a mini facelift with injectables like Botox, for example, can ensure that you achieve a smooth forehead to match your youthful cheeks. Likewise, dermal fillers can be used to take care of any lingering hollows under your cheeks or eyes, fill in lines around your mouth, and plump up your lips. When you come in for a consultation, be sure to ask us about the range of complementary therapies we provide so that we can fully personalize your treatment plan.