American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

An uplifting experience: The ins and outs of mini facelifts

ins and outs of mini facelifts

Many of us may be very familiar with the idea of a traditional facelift, but not quite as informed on a newly popular version of this procedure – the mini facelift. They are a less invasive variation of a traditional facelift with a quicker recovery. Mini facelifts offer a pared-down adaptation of the more thorough procedure, often focusing on a key area of the face rather than the full face while achieving a tighter, more youthful appearance.

The popularity of mini facelifts has seen a substantial boom within the past several years, likely thanks to the prevalence of social media and the use of Zoom during the pandemic. In fact, some plastic surgeons have reported that they now have more requests for mini facelift procedures than traditional facelift procedures, both as general inquiries and actual bookings.

What is a 'mini facelift' and what does it entail? How is it different from a more intensive, traditional facelift? What is driving this sudden burst in popularity?

To help answer these burning questions about mini facelifts, we reached out to two ASPS Member Surgeons who are experts in the field – Omar Hussain, MD, a double-board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in facial aesthetics in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Jeffrey Roth, MD, FACS, a double-board certified plastic surgeon specializing in the full spectrum of aesthetic procedures in Las Vegas.

The differences between mini facelifts and traditional facelifts

First, it's important to distinguish between a traditional facelift and a mini facelift. These differences typically lie within the procedures themselves and the recovery process.

"The mini facelift is usually one that promotes a shorter scar and shorter downtime," said Dr. Roth. "It typically involves making an incision, and then using suture techniques to lift the soft tissues into a more desirable position."

What also sets these two procedures apart is how much of the face is part of the surgery.

"The difference between a mini facelift and a traditional facelift is the number of areas addressed," said Dr. Hussain. "Traditional facelifts address three areas – the upper midface by correcting nasolabial folds and the upper cheek, the lower midface by correcting crowding of the lower lip and lifting the jowls, as well as the neck by removing platysmal bands and smoothing out the neck skin. Mini facelifts typically address two of these three areas and have a significantly shorter scar as a result. The recovery is shorter and surgery time is less. Patients return to work sooner and the subtlety of the results often allows them to reintegrate without the perception that anything was done."

Another key difference between a traditional facelift and a mini facelift lies in the patients who are seeking out these procedures.

"The patients are usually younger and have less jowling than those who may need a traditional facelift," said Dr. Roth. "They typically say that they don't want to wait until they need a traditional facelift. They also want a shorter downtime."

Yet, what does younger mean? Traditional facelifts are most popular in the 55-69 demographic, but who do plastic surgeons see for mini facelifts?

"Most of my mini facelift patients are in their mid-30s to late-40s and are seeking longer-lasting solutions than frequent touch-ups in the med spa," said Dr. Hussain. "The analogy I use often is that they don't want to feel like they have to constantly re-inflate their faces every three to six months once they notice a problem. They 'lock in' the results and don't have to think about it again for several years."

Basics of the mini facelift procedure

The mini facelift procedure is typically less intensive than that of a traditional facelift. However, there are certain techniques and methods to achieve the patient's desired results.

"Typically, an incision is made in the usual facelift incision site to gain access to the structures of the face," said Dr. Roth. "The incision is typically shorter. There may be some dissection and rotation of the soft tissues. Sutures are used to fix the tissue into place."

It's important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any facelift, though, and that includes mini facelifts. Each plastic surgeon may have their own technique and will always work to make each procedure fit the needs of their patient.

"The technique that I refer to as my 'greatest hit' involves limiting the incision to the inside of the ear on the front and wrapping around the lobule (ear lobe) to hide in the crease behind the ear," said Dr. Hussain. "This means the sideburn and all the hair around the ear remains untouched and in the same position. Patients are able to wear their hair up and be viewed from the side without any visible scar."

As with any procedure, it's important to consider each individual patient in planning how to properly perform a mini facelift to reach their goals.

"Everyone's face is different as well as their concerns," said Dr. Hussain. "Tailoring the approach to each patient's unique anatomy allows us to address only the areas that need work, achieves harmony and preserves the patient's natural appearance."

The growing popularity of the mini facelift

Mini facelifts are one type of procedure that has quickly grown exponentially in popularity. While this boom can be attributed to a variety of different root causes, it is obvious social media is a key driving factor.

Social media offers a greater source of publicly available information that can spread knowledge about a procedure and give patients better access to surgeons.

"Social media now is certainly informing people about this procedure," said Dr. Roth. "Most of the information touts it as something desirable. Most patients, if given an option, would like to have an effective procedure with less downtime and scarring."

Not only is social media making patients aware of the procedure, but it's also connecting patients with surgeons who specialize in mini facelifts nationwide.

"Patients are able to go on social media and see a larger gallery of before and after photos that might be similar to their face and see that solutions exist outside of their area code," said Dr. Hussain. "Many of my patients find me through social media, book telehealth consultations and then meet me once they've actually booked the surgery. This allows patients access to expertise that might not exist in their towns due to the reduced demand in their immediate vicinity."

In addition to better information about the procedure itself, the popularity of the mini facelift within social media is also helping to reduce potential patient worries around it.

"Patients posting their journeys on social media have reduced the anxiety and stigma surrounding these procedures making prospective patients more comfortable," said Dr. Hussain.

By facilitating more discussion around these procedures, patients are both better informed and less anxious about taking the plunge on a mini facelift.

However, this widely available information should be received with caution. It's important to still check your resources and consult with an expert to determine if this procedure is right for you.

"There are lots of sources of information out there – social media, websites, your family physician, etc.," said Dr. Roth. "One key is to find reputable sources for the particular procedure you are interested in. Look to the ASPS website and the board-certified plastic surgeons on their website. That is a good place to start. After gathering good information, remember that each individual is different. That is why it is crucial to consult with a well-trained, experienced board-certified plastic surgeon."

While there is no denying the popularity of the traditional facelift, mini facelifts are quickly growing in demand among younger patients. This less intensive procedure offers amazing results with a focus on one key area of the face and less downtime than a traditional facelift.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


Patient Care Center