The facelift has long been considered one of the most effective means to treat the signs of facial aging, and with its ability to address multiple areas of concern simultaneously a full facelift (or rhytidectomy) is still one of the most commonly performed facial plastic surgery procedures in the United States today. However, during the nearly thirty years that I have been a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in procedures of the face, it has been my facial rejuvenation philosophy that optimal results are best achieved with a gradual application of subtle changes that combine non-surgical and surgical cosmetic treatments. Every patient is different and not all portions of the face age at exactly the same rates, so addressing only those areas in need of attention, while leaving other areas alone, can often achieve a more youthful and rejuvenated look without giving the patient an overly artificial or “worked-on” look. That is one of the reasons why the mini-facelift was invented. Understanding the differences between a mini-facelift and a full, traditional facelift procedure is an important step in determining which approach is the right fit for your specific aesthetic needs.
The Traditional “Full” Facelift
A full facelift is a fairly extensive plastic surgery procedure that involves removing excess, sagging skin, tightening the underlying facial muscles and tissues, and then repositioning the remaining skin and tissues on the patient’s face. It can be an excellent way to eliminate loose skin folds in the neck and cheek areas, while tightening up the appearance of wrinkles across the entire face, including around the eyes. Although individual recovery times can vary significantly, a facelift usually requires at least two weeks before the bruising subsides and the results start to become evident. The effects of a facelift are long lasting, although they do not prevent additional effects of facial aging from accumulating in the future. Many patients also choose to supplement a full facelift with supplementary procedures like eyelid surgery or a chemical peel to create a more unified and seamless look.
The Partial or “Mini” Facelift
A short scar mini-facelift procedure is less invasive, involving only a handful of tiny incisions through which surgical instruments can be inserted. It is designed specifically for patients who are just beginning to experience the signs of aging, and focuses only on the mid-face region from the top of the cheek bones to the jaw line. Although the limited scope means a substantially reduced recovery time, the procedure cannot address sagging in either the forehead or neck, which are more appropriately treated with brow or neck lifts, respectively. The effects of a mini-facelift typically last between five and ten years, depending on the individual patient and various environmental factors, although non-surgical maintenance procedures, like laser skin resurfacing, facial fillers, and Botox® injectable cosmetic treatments may be able to prolong the results.
Ultimately, mini-facelift procedures are ideally suited for women and men who have not yet begun to experience extensive facial sagging and need only minor rejuvenation with minimal downtime. For those patients in need of more generalized facelift results that address multiple areas of the face, a full facelift may still be the best choice. If you are interested in facial plastic surgery or if you would like more information about what specific procedures may be able to benefit you, please contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein, at my office to schedule a consultation so that we may discuss your particular needs. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.