What is a Mini-Face Lift & How is it Different from a Traditional Face Lift?

Mini Face LiftIt seems that every cosmetic surgery practice out there is marketing a different trendy name for a mini face lift. Many patients are finding it difficult to understand the difference between a mini-face lift and a traditional one. They want to know what it all means, what procedure would be best for them, and whether or not they would be a candidate for these “new” procedures. We’re here to help answer some of these questions.

Despite what some may lead you to believe, “mini-lifts”, in some shape or another, have been around for decades. For some patients they are an excellent option, particularly those with minimal to no excess skin in the neck and very mild to early jowling. The “mini” part of a mini-face lift refers to the scar, which is shorter than the scar for the standard or traditional face lift. The shorter scar is possible because there is less need to access deeper tissue, and less rearranging of those tissues is needed. Typically, though not always the case, candidates for mini-lifts tend to be younger, in their late 30s to mid 40s with good skin texture, normal skin elasticity and minimal skin excess , especially in the neck.

In a standard or traditional facelift the incisions are longer to allow access to better reposition the jawline and to deal with neck laxity. What is important to understand here is that these incisions are no more visible than those of a mini-lift because they are hidden in the crease behind the ear and in the hair where they are not readily noticeable. Traditional face lifts allow for more definition in the jawline, as well as the ability to greatly improve the neckline and under the chin in patients with excess skin in these areas. Typically, candidates for more traditional face lifts are older and in their late 40s, early 50s and above. They typically have less skin elasticity and more laxity especially in the lower face and neck.

Despite claims to the contrary, the recovery time between the two procedures may not be significantly different. Recovery depends more on the patient, levels and extent of dissection and even type of anesthesia used rather than the length of the scar. Most patients feel well even the next day, though activity is usually restricted to light walking to avoid complications. Within a week to 10 days, all sutures are out and significant swelling and bruising have begun or mostly resolved.

It certainly makes sense that adding the term “mini” to a procedure would make it significantly more appealing to a patient than “traditional”. We would caution the prospective patient to make sure they understand fully what their concerns are and ensure their prospective plastic or facial plastic surgeon communicates how their recommendation will address those concerns. Each patient’s facial structure is unique; therefore, applying a trademarked procedure is unfortunately a “cookie-cutter” method of dealing with a very patient-specific set of needs. The best, and most lasting results are often encountered when the procedure is chosen based on patient characteristics rather than marketing. Happy lifting!

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