If you look up the definition of a mini facelift in three different places, you’ll probably get three different answers. Dozens of users on RealSelf have asked questions trying to get to the bottom of what a mini facelift really is.

It’s important to have clear and trustworthy information as you decide if a treatment is right for you. That’s why we asked three experts what a mini facelift is, what it isn’t, and what you can expect.


What is a mini facelift?

Make no mistake, a mini facelift is surgery.

That means it requires recovery and downtime (doctors advise at least seven days). If it is described as being non-surgical, or with no recovery, it is likely a different treatment than what most doctors would call a mini facelift.

“Unfortunately, the term ‘mini facelift’ is confusing to patients because it is broadly inclusive and applies to an assortment of diverse procedures,” said Dr. Brock Ridenour, a facial plastic surgeon in St. Louis. “I describe the ‘mini facelift’ as a facelift procedure of reduced complexity that is specifically designed to address the early signs of facial aging.”


Related: To lift or not to lift? Doctors talk facelifts and less invasive options

How is a mini facelift different from a regular facelift?

In basic terms, a mini facelift is a similar technique as a regular facelift, just done to a lesser scale.

“The mini facelift is a less invasive procedure than a more comprehensive face and neck lift,” said Dr. Andrew Lyos, a Houston plastic surgeon. “The incision is significantly shorter and the release of soft tissue is minimal.”

With a less comprehensive procedure comes less comprehensive results.

“The mini lift lacks most or all of the neck work,” said Dr. Paul Holden, a facial plastic surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona. “This can be suitable in the younger patient who has early jowl formation or cheek sag, but does not have any neck droop.”

For the right patient, a mini facelift may be a perfectly adequate solution. That can be true for a younger patient who isn’t in need for a full facelift. However, if a patient needs a more comprehensive facelift, a mini facelift can actually produce an undesirable result.

“In reality, limiting your procedure may actually cause you to look more artificial,” said Dr. Lyos.


Who is an ideal mini facelift candidate?

It really comes down to where you are in the aging process. If you have drooping and sagging in your neck, or marionette lines on your face, you are likely better off getting a full facelift.

If you don’t have as prominent signs of aging and are looking for a minor correction, a mini facelift might be a suitable solution.

“The ideal candidate for a mini facelift is usually younger, in their late 30s, 40s or early 50s,” said Dr. Ridenour. “They should have no more than modest sagging of the lower face and upper neck, with good bone structure and preserved facial fat.”

The name mini facelift might make it sound minor, but in reality, it should be treated like any other surgical procedure.

“The best advice when considering a mini facelift is that you educate yourself, have multiple consultations and find a surgeon with whom you communicate and can build trust,” said Dr. Holden.


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