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What is the Difference Between a Mini Facelift and a Modified Facelift?

I have recently made an appointment for a mini facelift. My friend is going to a different doctor for a modified facelift. She says a mini only involves the skin and lasts only three years whereas the modified involves underlying muscle and lasts 10-15 years. Is this true?

Doctor Answers 25

Facelift: Choose the Surgeon, not the Facelift "Name"

As others have pointed out on this topic, most qualified Facelift surgeons offer a range of Facelift procedures based on the individual needs of the patient. Likewise, most surgeons will offer some variation on the technique when compared to another surgeon. The truth is, you can get great results with a variety of different techniques. Most surgeons will offer you a procedure that suits your needs and which works well in his/her hands.

That having been said, in most circumstances a "skin only" mini lift is hardly a procedure worth doing. This is a procedure that was largely abandoned with the introduction of SMAS techniques in the 1970's. The reason: when tension is placed on an incision, the scar is more likely to be wide, more likely to distort local structures (earlobes), and less likely to leave a natural appearance. When tension is placed on deeper structures (SMAS), you are more likely to avoid these problems.

In my experience, most patients come in believing they are candidates for as mini lift. Frequently, this is not the case. My responsibility is to educate a patient that they will only be happy with a procedure which is appropriate for their individual aging changes; often times a mini lift is insufficient.

Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

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Mini facelift

In the past, most surgeries for which you would see a cosmetic surgeon would likely be called the same thing for the same procedure. Surgeons are now using terminology that is not standardized and is confusing for patients and colleagues alike and is mostly used for marketing rather than really providing any new surgical advantages.
In the case of the facelift, the mini facelift procedure generally involves a relatively small amount of skin elevation in front of the ear, and suture suspension of the deep tissue of the face (the SMAS) to elevate the face in an upward and slightly backward direction. Patients who are good candidates for this procedure are usually very pleased with the results and really appreciate the relatively quick recovery period. Your friend sounds like she is getting something more if the muscle is going to be modified in any way during her surgery.
Unfortunately, without knowing exactly what the surgeon's approach is going to be for her facelift, it is difficult to say whether or not she is getting the same procedure as you are considering.

Philip S. Schoenfeld, MD
Chevy Chase Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Minifacelift Has Many Names

Modified facelift is another name for a mini facelift.  For you as a smart consumer you should only concentrate on getting a good and safe facelift. Leave the terminology alone. Once you have accepted this fact it will be easier for your surgeon to tell you what will work best for you.


Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Difference between MINI facelift and MODIFIED facelift

Regarding : "She says a mini only involves the skin and lasts only three years whereas the modified involves underlying muscle and lasts 10-15 years"

You and your friend, like thousands of others, have fallen prey to the cheesy marketing of plastic surgical procedures.

Because of the poster children for REAL "facelifts" have unfortunately been the wind-swept, pulled look shown by the likes of Mrs. B. Ford, Mary Tyler Moore, etc - many plastic surgeons and plastic surgical imitators, seeking to differentiate their results, began calling their procedures by different, more appealing names.

Several trends are seen in this regard of which you described just two:
1. The use of the word MINI - a smaller, less involved procedure

2. The use of the word MODIFIED - a different procedure

3. The use of the word NATURAL - speaks for itself (although I have yet to see another creature in the animal kingdom which undergoes such an operation)

4. The uses of proprietary names for minimalist Facelift procedures - THREAD lift, NATURAL lift, DAY lift, etc etc - for the most part minimalist lifts (often done by non-plastic surgery trained practitioners) with minimalist, short lasting results.

Janice, there are MANY ways to perform a "Facelift". Ideally, the TYPE of Facelift procedure (like a nose operation) should depend on what facial and neck factors need to be corrected. Obviously a young woman in her early 40's with minimal facial sagging would not need the procedure we would have to do in a woman in her 60's with much greater facial descent associated with eye, brow and neck changes. Obviously if such a woman had a MINI-facelift she would also end up with an unwelcome MINI-result.

To get the BEST possible results, see a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and go over with him/her what exactly about YOUR face bothers you. Once armed with this information, you can review WHICH Facelift procedure is best suited to get you there.

By first picking a procedure with a catchy name, you are apt to have a procedure which may very well just do a limited skin pull with very short lasting results which is NOT likely to meet your expectations.

Good Luck.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Facelift Variations

Unfortunately, the terminology used to describe facelifts hasn’t been standardized and means different things to different people.  In many cases the terms have been chosen for marketing purposes and for this reason aren’t helpful.

Without knowing the individual surgeons definition of these terms, it’s hard to know what differences exist between them.  For this reason, it’s important to focus on finding a qualified surgeon rather than focusing on a specific operative procedure.

The treatment of facial aging should be individualized based on the patient’s aesthetic goals, anatomic findings and social situation.  No two patients are exactly alike and because of this appropriate treatment depends on the patients specific anatomic needs.

Although, the type of procedure chosen is important, the selection of a plastic surgeon is even more important.  It’s important that you consult a board certified plastic surgeon with experience performing facial rejuvenation surgery.  This surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that’s specific for your anatomic findings and meets your aesthetic goals.

Minifacelift and Modified Facelift

A common question is what is the difference between one lift and another.  The most important factor in choosing a lift is to choose the right surgeon.  He/she will help determine what procedure they view as the best option for you and your aesthetic goals.

Lifts can differ dramatically from one surgeon to another.  Differences in lifts can be the incision length and size (not shorter incision does not equate to better scar) and what is actually being lifted.  Anatomically correct facelifts require more anatomic knowledge.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Mini vs Modified Facelifts

A mini lift will give mini results. It is best to wait until there are enough aging issues before embarking on facial aesthetic surgery such as a facelift. The goal for a comprehensive face/neck lift is to address jowls, tighten up loose skin in the neck, remove the anterior platysmal bands, and removal of fat underneath the neck above and below the platysma muscle, while leaving no tension on the skin. This gives the patient a full facial rejuvenation. However, with a mini lift you are only tightening skin, which can leave patients with wide scars. The stretch-back phenomenon of skin will occur and you will be right back where you were within six months to a year after a mini lift.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Mini Facelift & Modified Facelift

A facelift, in and of itself, is a misnomer. In general, a facelift refers to redraping of the skin and soft tissues of the face, jowl/jawline and neck. “Lift” is inaccurate and that the face/neck rejuvenation surgical procedure should be an anatomical redraping procedure and not a true “lift”. The type of procedure performed is usually determined by three main factors 1. findings that each individual patient presents 2. skill level of the surgeon 3. philosophy of the appropriate surgical modality of each surgeon. In general, a mini facelift yields minimal results. Incisions are made, a procedure is perform (albeit limited) and healing takes place. Not only are the results minimal but the longevity is minimal.

Only patients presenting with the very earliest findings (minimal aging changes) might be conceivably be considered for a so-called mini facelift. Perhaps, these people would be better off with other procedure modalities in these early stages. A modified facelift is not a term often used or heard in professional circles. A modified facelift could be called a “minimized” facelift. It would most likely be a limited form of a good, thorough and complete facelift. In most cases, this procedure would also often yield less than optimum results.

Most patients presenting for rejuvenation surgery of the face and neck desire to look their best. In order to accomplish this and to make a satisfied and happy patient, a good comprehensive surgical procedure should be performed that will appropriately redraped and secure the tissues beneath the skin as well as the skin itself in a manner to effect optimum contours with much greater longevity.

Sigmund L. Sattenspiel, MD
Freehold Facial Plastic Surgeon

Mini facelift

Generally, a mini facelift usually is associated with skin tightening only and a minimal amount of time of surgery. A modified facelift takes longer in time, addressing the skin, fat and muscles of the face.

The expertise of the plastic surgeon determines which type of surgery suits your individual needs. The soft tissue laxity, skin damage and loss of facial volume is most important in choosing facial rejuvenation surgery.

Be careful of named facelift procedures. Ask more specifics about what areas of the face will improve with each type of surgery.

And finally, the length of recovery is different for a mini and modified facelift. Your lifestyle is most important in how long the results will last, not the name of the procedure.

Andrew Turk, MD
Naples Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Pull back the curtain on the Wizard of OZ

Hi Janice,

You have gotten great advice here. My advice would be to keep doing research and then sit down with the your Surgeon and have a very informed discussion with them about what specific type of facelift they are proposing and why they feel it would be the best thing for your anatomy.

Also best to speak with Surgeons who offer the whole range of facelifts currently available to today's patient - you don't want to find yourself pigeon holed into the only procedure they offer or are able to offer.

Two last things:

1. I am not sure any Surgeon worth their salt would do a "skin only" facelift unless it was a secondary or revision lift to remove excess skin. Check with your Surgeon but I doubt that's their game plan.

2. Facelift lasting 15 years? hmmmmm..... maybe with a deep plane facelift and really good anatomy and blessed genetics.... That's a fair amount of time wherein the vast majority of patients are probably going to show some signs of the natural progression of aging and require some procedure along the way to "maintain" their initial results.

Take Care and Good Luck!

Dr. Kamran Jafri

Kamran Jafri, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.