With hype, marketing and everyone and every practice trademarking a different catchy, trendy name for a mini-lift, patients are understandably confused and find it difficult to understand what it all means, what is best for them and whether they are even a candidate for these “new” procedures. Not a day goes by without patients asking about these interventions.
Despite what some may lead you to believe, “mini-lifts”, in some shape or another, have been around for decades, as far back as early 20th century France! For some patients they are an excellent option: those with minimal to no excess skin in the neck and very mild to early jowling. The “mini” part of a mini-facelift refers to the scar which is shorter than the scar for the standard or traditional facelift. The shorter scar is possible as there is less need for access to deeper tissues as 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 that are longer to allow access to better reposition the jawline and to deal with neck laxity; importantly, 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 facelifts 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 facelifts are 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 and marketing hype, the recovery time may not be significantly different between the two! Recovery depends more on the patient, levels and extent of dissection and even type of anesthesia 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—applying a trademarked procedure is unfortunately a “cookie-cutter” method of dealing with a very patient-specific set of problems. The best, and most lasting results are often encountered when the procedure is chosen based on patient characteristics rather than marketing. Happy lifting!