What's a Mini-Facelift? Is it for Me?

By: Dr. Danahey, MD, PhD
Topics: General


When you glance in the mirror, do you find yourself thinking “How did my face get so saggy?”  Aging can affect the body in many ways, but the harsh realities of aging are most visible on the face. 

The wonderful warm sun damages your skin throughout your life.  Also, as we age our facial tissues lose support and elasticity, and the youthful layer of fatty tissue is diminished.  The combination of gravity and the loss of elasticity cause varying degrees of looseness or “laxity” along the jawline and beneath the chin; this creates undesirable sagging and overhanging jowls.  As a result, people may begin to ask if you are tired or sad; and you become aware that your facial appearance doesn’t reflect your true inner vitality.

If you have noticed these age-related changes occurring in just the last few years, there is a procedure which can address this facial sagging and restore a more rested, youthful appearance to your face.  A mini-facelift is an ideal procedure for anyone with mild to moderate jowling and upper neck laxity. 

A mini-facelift differs from a traditional facelift by having a shorter incision and the tightening is done in a superficial tissue layer, which minimizes the risk of potential complications, and allows for it to be performed safely in the office under local anesthesia.  There is less postoperative bruising and swelling and therefore offers a quicker recovery time as compared to the more traditional facelift and neck lift.  The procedure generally takes about 2 hours, and most patients are able to return to work in 6-7 days. 

The mini-facelift incision typically starts just above the ear in the hairline, runs down in front of the ear, and up behind the ear.  By following certain natural lines, it is well hidden once healing is complete.  The connective tissue layer below the skin (SMAS) is tightened; then any excess skin is removed.  This process helps smooth out wrinkles and redefine the jawline.  If needed, liposuction can be performed below the chin to remove excess fat.  As a result, you will notice an overall firming of the lower facial area, noticeable jawline definition, and a more elegant neckline.

It is important for me as a facial plastic surgeon to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for a mini-facelift by thoroughly analyzing the quality of your skin, looseness at your jawline, the angle from your chin to the bottom of your neck, and the amount of fat and excess skin present in your neck area. 

During my many years in practice, I have found that the typical mini-facelift candidate is someone who may wish to stay ahead of the aging process and correct changes before they become significant.  Because this procedure can be performed in my office under a local anesthetic, the recovery process is quicker and easier, and the cost is significantly less than having it done under general anesthesia.  I help my patients to completely understand what to expect, in order to help them choose which option is best for them. 

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