How this facial plastic surgeon tackles the mini-facelift and treats for a faster recovery.
What makes a facelift “mini?”
The term “mini-facelift” isn’t a medical one, so its definition is a little ambiguous. The simplified version is that it’s a less complex and invasive surgery than a full facelift.
A traditional complete facelift, or rhytidectomy, involves an incision that starts at the hair line at the temples, goes around the ear, and ends at the lower scalp. It may also involve a secondary incision under the chin to further lift the neck area. Once an incision is made, a surgeon will sculpt, redistribute, and reposition underlying fat and tissues. Oftentimes, the deeper layers of the face and muscles are also lifted.
Kirkland, WA facial plastic surgeon Daniel J. Liebertz, MD explains that this is often only the beginning of a full facelift.
“Many people consider a ‘full’ facelift to encompass not only the facial rhytidectomy surgery,” Dr. Liebertz said, “but also a brow lift, midface lift, eye surgery (blepharoplasty), necklift and facial lipo-contouring.”
By contrast, a mini-facelift focuses just on that original rhytidectomy incision at the hairline and does less work under the skin. The SMAS muscle (the muscle layer of the lower face) is still elevated, and work beneath that is often done to lift the jawline. “In our office, a mini-lift still uses the same incision, but there is less dissection under the skin,” Dr. Liebertz explains. “Because there is less surgery, healing is usually quicker.”
Who should consider a mini-facelift?
A mini-facelift can help the appearance of smile lines and jawline laxity, which are all early signs of facial aging. That means it’s a great option for men and women who are in their 40s and 50s, and who want a more refreshed look without the overhaul and long recovery of a full facelift.
“The age of my average mini-lift patient has been getting younger over the last few years,” Dr. Liebertz notes. “Traditionally, mini lifts were being performed on people in their mid-to-early 50s, but now most of my mini lift patients are in their 40s.”
Patients in good health, who don’t smoke and don’t have multiple medical issues, and who are beginning to show signs of aging in the jowls, jawline, and smile-line areas are good candidates for mini-facelifts. They may also choose to add a mini necklift or an eyelid lift to further enhance their results.
“Mini lifts don’t have to wait until you’re 60 years old and have significant skin laxity,” Dr. Liebertz says. “They work wonders on early aging along the jawline, and it’s an easy recovery.”
What’s the recovery like?
If you decide to get a mini-facelift, you’ll need about a week of social downtime. Dr. Liebertz explains that the cheek and area around the ears will be a bit swollen during that time. “Most patients feel confident and look good enough to go out to dinner one week after surgery.”
It’s important to follow post-op restrictions on exercise and heavy lifting to achieve the best results. Dr. Liebertz is stringent with his restrictions and advises patients against strenuous activity for four weeks after their procedures.
You can expect to feel some aches during your recovery, but nothing too serious. “It’s not a very painful procedure—we mostly hear people say it feels tight or achy,” Dr. Liebertz says.