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Mini Facelift FAQs

Q – What is a mini facelift?
The mini facelift, also known as an S-lift, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to rejuvenate the lower face and upper neck in order to provide a more youthful and rested appearance. The mini facelift is ideal for patients who do not have advanced signs of aging and/or do not wish to undergo a more extensive formal lower facelift.

Q – Are there any limitations to what a mini facelift can achieve?
The mini facelift targets the lower face and upper neck and will not affect the forehead and brow position, the eyelids, or the midface area. Other procedures like a browlift, blepharoplasty or midface lift can better treat these areas.

Q – Who is a good candidate for a mini facelift?
Good candidates for the mini facelift include healthy men and women who are bothered by sagging, loose skin along the lower face and upper neck. Patients with unwanted jowling along the jawline may also be good candidates for the procedures. The mini facelift is ideal for patients who do not wish to undergo a more extensive formal lower facelift or those who not have advanced signs of aging. The mini facelift is not appropriate for patients who actively smoke or those with a history of a bleeding disorder due to an increased risk of complications.

Q – Where is the mini facelift procedure performed?
The mini facelift is an office-based procedure.

Q – What type of anesthesia is used for the mini facelift?
The mini facelift is performed with local anesthesia with or without oral sedation.

Q – How is the mini facelift performed?
The mini facelift begins with carefully planned and placed incisions which are located in a  hidden position along the hairline and border of the ear. Once the incisions are made, the skin located in front of, below and behind the ear is gently lifted. The SMAS layer is then lifted up and tightened in front of the ear. The SMAS, or superficial musculoaponeurotic system, is the deeper tissue layer beneath the skin that attaches to the facial muscles and is continuous below the ear with a wide, thin muscle that crosses the entire front of the neck, termed the platysma muscle. The platysma is also lifted and tightened below and behind the ear. This lifting and tightening of both the SMAS and platysma allows the lower face, jowls and neck line to be repositioned to a more youthful level. Permanent sutures stabilize the SMAS and platysma layers in their new position, ensuring a long-term result with the mini facelift. By placing essentially all of the tension for the mini lift along the deeper SMAS and platysma layers, there is no unwanted tension transferred to the skin layer where it could cause excess scarring. After the SMAS and platysma have been tightened, the skin is redraped, excess skin is trimmed, and the skin layer is then meticulously closed with fine sutures. This includes recreating and realigning the natural skin creases in front of the ear, such as the tragus. If the front of the neck requires liposuctioning, this is first performed with thin instruments through a very short incision below the chin. After all of the incisions have been closed, a compressive facelift dressing is applied. This dressing is intended to stabilize the surgical changes while minimizing the chances of bleeding.

Q – How long does the mini facelift procedure take to perform?
The mini facelift takes about three to four hours to complete.

Q – Where are the incisions made for the mini facelift?
The incisions for the mini facelift are similar to those for a formal lower facelift as they are located in and around the natural curves of the ear and extending into the hairline behind the ear. They are generally well-concealed and, once healed, will be very difficult to see. Male patients will require a slightly modified incision located in front of the ear, more along the border of the bearded facial skin. This will ensure that hair-bearing skin is not lifted onto the ear where it can create problems with shaving. Patients with excess fat beneath the chin will have an additional short incision hidden beneath the chin.

Q – Are there scars after a mini facelift?
The incisions made for the mini facelift do leave scars. In general, however, they are well-concealed in and around the natural curves of the ear and in the hairline behind the ear, resulting in scars that will be very difficult to see once they are healed.

Q – Is the mini facelift a painful procedure?
The mini facelift is generally thought of as more uncomfortable rather than painful. Further, any discomfort or pain that patients do experience after surgery is well-controlled with low-dose prescription narcotic medication.

Q – What is the recovery like after a mini facelift?
After the mini facelift, patients are sent home to recover in the presence of a reliable party. During the first few days, patients are advised to sleep with the head slightly elevated at a 30 degree angle to help minimize swelling in the face and neck. Low-dose prescription narcotic medication can control any pain or discomfort that patients experience.  The bandages are changed within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after surgery, at which time patients will also be checked to ensure that there is no unwanted bleeding along the surgical site. The stitches are then removed within five to six days after surgery and a lighter, removable bandage is put in place. Patients will also be instructed on wound care. During the first few months, patients will be seen every several weeks.

Varying degrees of swelling and bruising will occur during the first seven to ten days after surgery. This can be minimized by avoiding blood thinners for two weeks before surgery. Taking Arnica Montana before and after surgery can also help to minimize swelling and bruising. Within seven to ten days, most patients are presentable in public and able to return to work. Makeup can usually be worn at this time to disguise any remaining bruising. The scars may appear pink to red during the first few weeks after surgery. However, they will begin to gradually fade and, though it may take upwards of six months to a year, they will fully mature and disappear. Patients are advised to minimize rotation of the neck, for instance turning the head to look backward, for the first several weeks of recovery after the mini facelift. This will minimize the amount of unwanted pull, or tension, along the back of the ear, which may otherwise result in excess scarring. Though the aging process does resumes from the point when the last suture has been placed, mini facelift patients have fortunately undergone a permanent change to their anatomy with rejuvenating changes that usually allow them to appear that much younger for their particular age.

Q – When will I be able to return to work after undergoing a mini facelift?
Patients are usually able to return to work within five to ten days after the mini facelift. Patients who are not bothered by the bandages may be able to return to work sooner.

Q – When will I be able to exercise after my mini facelift procedure?
Aerobic activity (reconditioning) can be resumed within ten to fourteen days after the mini facelift, while strenuous activity (resistance workouts) may be resumed within three to four weeks.

Q – When are the stitches removed after the mini facelift procedure?
The stitches are removed within five to six days after the mini facelift.

Q – Are there risks or complications with the mini facelift?
As with all types of surgery there are potential risks associated with the mini facelift. In general, the risk of infection and bleeding is very low as long as patients follow instructions to stop taking blood thinners two weeks before surgery and stop smoking at least two to three weeks before and after surgery. As with any surgery of the face, there is the potential risk of damaging the facial nerve which helps to control movement on that side of the face. There are five separate branches that can be injured individually or altogether, but because these branches happen to run along a predictable path below the SMAS and platysma layers there is very little risk of damaging the facial nerves provided that the surgery does not extend too deep below these layers. Swelling and bruising near the nerve may result in temporary weakness in select branches of the facial nerve, though this recovers fully in nearly all cases and only rarely does permanent damage of the facial nerve develop. There is also the risk of numbness occurring near the ear which can result from injury to the great auricular nerve which runs adjacent to the platysma layer. Numbness in most cases is temporary and caused by bruising of the nerve. Permanent numbness of the great auricular nerve is quire rare after mini facelift surgery. It is also possible for some patients to develop unfavorable scars despite excellent technique by the surgeon. This is related more to the patient’s inherent ability to heal and form scars rather than the surgeon’s ability to properly close the incisions. This may occur several weeks after surgery as slightly raised or deeply red scars and, in most cases, the appearance of these scars can be improved with topical or injectable steroids.

Q – Does insurance cover the mini facelift procedure?
The mini facelift is considered cosmetic and, as such, is typically not covered by insurance.

Read more about the mini facelift procedure.

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