Mini-lifts can offer major results - here's what you need to know

Mini-lifts can offer major results - here's what you need to know

We've come a long way when it comes to cosmetic procedures. Long gone are the days of incredibly invasive surgeries that would take weeks or even months to recover from, the days of *too* drastic results, the days of cosmetic procedures being reserved for the ultra-rich. Now, it's as simple as going to a clinic on your lunch break to freshen up a bit.

But sometimes, you might need a little more than a touch-up on your Botox or fillers. Perhaps you've recently lost a lot of weight and noticed a sagging jawline, or maybe you're looking for an intermediate solution before embarking on a full facelift. Fortunately, there is an option, and it's called a mini facelift.

We spoke with certified plastic surgeons Samuel Lin, M.D.and Alexis Parcells, M.D.and board-certified nurse practitioner Vanessa Coppola for full details on mini-lifts, including questions to ask and follow-up procedures. Continue reading to learn all about mini-lifts, below.

Meet the expert

  • Samuel Lin, a board-certified plastic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.
  • Alexis Parcells, owner of Parcells Plastic Surgery and founder of SUNNIE Wrinkle Reducing Studio.
  • Vanessa Coppola is a certified nurse practitioner, aesthetic specialist and owner of Bare Aesthetic Medical Spa.

What is a mini-lifting?

Simply put, a mini facelift is the least invasive version of a full facelift. It's sometimes called a "ponytail facelift", "weekend facelift" or "midday facial", because it's a relatively quick procedure that offers less downtime than its counterpart. It helps treat sagging jaws and cheeks, but in a more subtle way. "A mini facelift is also called a short scar facelift," explains Samuel Lin, MD. "A mini-facelift is a surgical procedure to treat loose skin and signs of aging in the midface (the area between the corners of the eye and the corners of the mouth) and jowls. A mini-facelift is a modified version of a traditional facelift, with a series of small incisions along the hairline to correct the appearance of sagging skin, usually around the neck and jawline.

As a rule, a mini-facelift is not as invasive as a conventional facelift, but you will need to undergo anesthesia. Vanessa Coppola explains: "It's a surgical procedure requiring anesthesia. However, it's often done the same day and with a shorter recovery time than a traditional facelift. Mini-lifts generally involve a shorter incision that starts at the temple and extends in front of the earlobe. Once the skin has been opened, the underlying tissues are repositioned and tightened, and excess skin is trimmed away. The shorter scar, faster recovery time and rejuvenation of the lower face are quite common with the mini facelift, but techniques vary considerably.

It's important to note that a mini facelift is not a permanent solution. Results generally last from five to 10 years.

Benefits of mini-lifting

  • Shorter recovery time
  • Smaller/shorter scars
  • Can lift and shape the face more than Botox and fillers alone
  • Lasting results
  • Minimal pain

If you have a sagging jawline and cheeks that fillers and Botox alone can't fix, a mini-lift could be a great option for you. "Mini-lifting surgery has one of the highest satisfaction rates of any plastic surgery procedure," says Alexis Parcells, MD. "Patients look and feel younger and often have very short recovery and downtime with minimal pain. for a mini facelift, it's a little less expensive than a full facelift, and the recovery time is a little shorter because it's less of a recovery for the cervical portion.

Be aware, however, that a mini-facelift alone won't meet all your facial aesthetic needs. Coppola points out that you may still need to use Botox and fillers to achieve your desired final look, but since your foundation is lifted, you'll likely achieve a more aesthetically pleasing result.

How to prepare for a mini-lifting

If you've been debating a mini facelift, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself before planning your procedure. Unlike cosmetic procedures such as fillers and Botox, a mini facelift is considered surgery, and it's extremely important to assess the major risks of the procedure. "The most important question is to verify that the surgeon is properly accredited and board-certified and has performed the procedure many, many times. You want to know if they have an en suite surgical practice or if they operate in the hospital, and what the specific requirements are for each," explains Coppola. "You'll want to ask what type of anesthesia will be administered and who the anesthesiologist is. You'll want to see plenty of before and after photos and ask specific questions about the surgical techniques performed, the tissue layers involved, for example, SMAS or superficial layers only, or a combination. This will affect the results as well as the recovery period.

Once you've booked your appointment, Parcells recommends avoiding any medications or supplements that may cause bleeding for at least two weeks before the procedure. Lin adds, "Precautions to take before surgery may depend on the type of anesthesia used, and your surgeon will provide instructions. If you smoke, quitting several weeks before your surgery is important for optimal healing. And finally, make sure you don't eat or drink for at least six hours before your treatment to avoid the nausea and vomiting of anesthesia.

What to expect during a mini-facelift

Although a mini-facelift isn't as invasive as a conventional facelift, it's important to remember that it's still major surgery. If you've ever had surgery of any kind, you'll know that nerves can be real. Try practicing meditation or listening to your favorite music or podcast to calm your nerves before surgery. Before the procedure, you'll usually receive local and general anesthesia to calm you down. Lin explained that "during a mini-facelift operation, the surgeon makes an incision just in front of the ear to treat loose skin and tighten the tissues just under the skin. Excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is re-draped. Next, the incision is closed so that the scar is hidden just in front of the ear. Overall, the operation takes about two hours.

Your surgeon will usually provide you with an antibiotic and a painkiller. You should take each as directed by your doctor. In addition, depending on Lin, you'll probably go home with bandages on your face and you may have drains that will need to be removed after about 48 hours.

Facelift vs. mini-facelift

Sobel explained that a mini facelift is a less invasive version of a regular facelift that targets the jowls and upper neck, while a full facelift includes the mid-face and full neck. Another big difference? A mini facelift has a shorter scar. "A mini facelift produces a shorter scar than a conventional facelift. In a mini facelift, there's just one scar in front of the ear. In a regular facelift, the scar extends around the lower earlobe and behind the ear," explains Lin. "Because the scar is shorter in a mini facelift, a mini facelift cannot lift the skin around the neck as well as a regular facelift. A mini-facelift is preferable for patients who have little loose skin around the neck but who want improvement of the midface and jowls.

Typically, facelifts are performed on people who are older or who have undergone significant weight loss in the face. Parcells adds, "A mini-facelift is performed on younger patients who are stable in weight, have good skin laxity and tone, and require mild to moderate overall improvement.

Potential side effects

After your surgery, it's common to experience swelling, discomfort and bruising. Complications from a mini-lift are rare and typical of any common surgical procedure. "Complications are those that can result from any surgical procedure and include hematoma formation, swelling, infection at the surgical site, loss of circulatory supply to the newly repositioned tissues, persistent numbness at the surgical site and scarring," explains Coppola. . "Some of these are expected, such as swelling, bruising and transient numbness, but should disappear within a few weeks." And although rare, there is also a risk of facial nerve damage. Parcells adds: "The main risk is that you're close to the facial nerve, the nerves that innervate all the facial muscles.

In addition, scarring, while rare, could be a possible side effect. Parcells explained that any time you make an incision in the skin, there's a risk of unsightly scarring.

The cost

A mini-facelift is generally less expensive than a full facelift, but the cost can vary considerably depending on your location and surgeon. As a general rule, you're looking at paying between 3,000 $ and 8,000 $, which also includes the type of anesthesia used, the surgeon's fee and hospitalization costs.


After your mini-lift, you won't need to stay in the hospital or surgery center and you'll be free to go home. You won't be able to drive after the operation, so it's a good idea to enlist the help of a friend or family member to get you home safely and help you recover for the next 24 hours. What's more, you won't be able to work for at least one to three weeks afterwards, so it's a good idea to factor this into your aftercare plan too.

Sobel told us to keep in mind that the recovery process is different for each person and that "rest and minimal activity are the main elements of a smooth recovery, as well as icing the area to reduce any swelling and bruising." Lin adds, "You'll need to see your surgeon the morning after surgery and several other times to monitor your healing. Sutures are usually removed a week after surgery. For the first two weeks, lifting and bending are strictly limited, and strenuous exercise should be avoided for the first six weeks after surgery. Most patients feel ready to return to work after one to three weeks.

The last takeaway

A mini facelift is an excellent option for people who want a natural-looking result with much less downtime than a traditional facelift. If your sagging jawline and cheeks can't be treated with cosmetic procedures like Botox and fillers, a mini facelift is an option you may want to consider. But remember, even if it's not as invasive as a regular facelift, it's still considered major surgery, so it's important to choose a surgeon who is board-certified and has extensive experience with the procedure.

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