Ask a doctor

Please Describe the Short Scar Facelift

A doctor mentioned a short scar facelift. Please describe this procedure and how is it different from a traditional facelift? Also, is it true that in a traditional facelift, they actually lift the skin and re-drape it after stapling underlying tissue? Is it true that they have to put screws in the skull as well? Please explain this procedure.

Doctor Answers (20)

Short Scar Face Lift, Mini Face Lift, and Full Face Lift


A short scar face lift, also called a mini face lift, is similar to a full face lift but is performed through a smaller incision than a full face lift.  Both a full face lift and short scar face lift and redrape the skin and often require tightening of the underlying tissues. 

The short scar face lift, or mini face lift, incision is limited to the crease in front of the ear and into the temporal hair, but does not extend behind the ear or onto the neck.  Because the incision is smaller, access to the neck can be limited.  Thus, the short scar face lift, or mini face lift, is best for younger patients without significant neck or lower facial skin laxity.  The short scar face lift, or mini face lift, is also a good option for patients who have had a full face lift years previously and need only a minor "touch up."

Screws are sometimes secured into the skull to secure a newly positioned brow during a brow lift or forehead lift, but are not routinely used during a face lift or short scar face lift.

Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Short Scar Facelift


The short scar facelift is a very good technique where the scar is hidden in the pre auricular area without a post auricular extension. This is indicated in select patients that don’t have a lot of significant redundant skin on their neck. It works well on these areas, but it does make the procedure somewhat more difficult. There can be some bunching of the skin on the lobe area as well.  I think it is a good operative procedure in a select group of patients, but in my practice I use it in a limited number of patients that primarily have skin laxity in pre auricular (cheek area) and not the post auricular area and have a very good neck.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Short Scar Facelift


Short scar facelift has its place in the aging face surgeon's tool box.  The key here is to determine if you are a proper candidate for such a lift.  The scar provides access to the face for the lifting portion.  In some patients, especially those with a large amount of neck skin, the short scar lift may not be the best option.  

While the short scar provides access to the face, the underlying technique of lifting the face should still focus on lifting the deeper tissues of the face into a better position.

For more information on short scar lifts, see link below.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

You might also like...

Short scar facelift usually means short recovery time

Short scar facelift has become in increasingly popular facelift alternative in recent years and sometimes is referred to a s soft lift, or an 'S' lift. These descriptions are meant to describe the short scar which runs around the side burn and down to the earlobe, a kind of S shape. Through the short opening there is enough room to raise up the deeper tissues and rejuvenate the face, neck and jowl. This should not be confused with 'thread lifting'.

The short scar facelift or mini lift can produce substantial and lasting improvement for appropriate candidates, and has the advantage of a short recovery time as well. Because the incision and operation is shortened there is less swelling and bruising and recovery can be shortened to several days rather than a week or longer. The short scar facelift works well for individuals with moderate laxity in the neck and jowl.

Age, in fact, is not the limiting factor as we all age differently, though a very loose neck, a dreaded turkey neck, will most often require the full facelift approach. The full facelift differs in that the incision runs up behind the ear into the hairline in back which allows a very full correction of the neck when needed.

The key to facial rejuvenation is safety, substantial improvement, with a manageable recovery, and in this day and age a short recovery is a must.

Best of luck,
Peter E Johnson MD

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Variations of Facelift Surgery


There are multiple facelift options available to treat the various manifestations of facial aging.  It’s important to realize that each of these techniques offer unique advantages and disadvantages.  The best results occur when the best option is chosen for any particular deformity.  Some of the options available include the facelift, short scar facelift and mini facelift.

The facelift has many variations that are used to reverse the changes associated with facial aging.  These techniques have several features in common.  They all address nasal labial folds and loss of definition of the jaw lines and jowls.  In addition changes in the neck are addressed as well.  The procedure removes excess fat, corrects muscle abnormalities, and removes excess skin in the neck.  The procedure is associated with high satisfaction rates.

Mini facelifts and short scar facelifts utilize many of the same principles as full facelifts, but are far less aggressive procedures.  Once again, there are multiple variations of this type of procedure.  These procedures are associated with fewer complications and shorter recoveries.  With these procedures, the neck is minimally impacted and the primary focus is the jaw line and nasal labial folds.

Staples and screws in the skull are commonly used with endoscopic browlift, but aren’t used with facelift procedures.  It’s important to realize that each of these techniques has a role in facial rejuvenation surgery.  It’s critical that a proper analysis be undertaken to determine which option is best for any particular patient.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Short Scar Facelift - Mini-Lift?


A short scar facelift means different things to different surgeons, has many variations and is called by a multitude of names including: Mini-Lift, MACS lift, Limited Scar Lift, Short Scar Lift and a multitude of marketed branded names and trade name lifts. What the variations have in common is a shorter length incision than in a standard or full facelift, which usually avoids a scar behind the ear. The position and length of the incision depends on the extent of the procedure, the patient’s individual anatomy and the surgeon’s preference. Beside the length and placement of the incision, what may vary significantly from surgeon to surgeon is the extent of the lifting of the skin from the underlying tissue and the amount and method of correction of the underlying tissue, which may be sutured, not stapled.

It is a good technique that I and many plastic surgeons will utilize in the appropriately selected patient with early aging without extensive skin laxity of the jowls or neck or for patients who have had a prior facelift and would benefit from a little freshening. It is not
an option for all or even most patients with greater tissue sagging who would get a better correction with a full facelift.

Staples are not used in the underlying tissue, but small skin clips or “surgical staples” may be used in the scalp portion of the incision. Screws to help stabilize the tissue to the scull are not used for a facelift. Some surgeons, but not all or even most may use them
in a brow or forehead lift.

What is more important than opting for a particular technique, is choosing an experienced artistic plastic surgeon. I would suggest you find a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) that you trust and are comfortable with. You should discuss your concerns with that surgeon in person.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Short Scar Facelift


The short scar facelift refers to a shorter length of the incision behind the ear, which allows more freedom in wearing your hair back or cut short. The correction of the underlying tissues can be done through a short scar approach just as it can with a longer scar. It is important to discuss with your surgeon what his or her technique is. For a brow lift, which some patients refer to as an “upper facelift,” fixation of the tissues can be done utilizing a screw, but there are other techniques as well. Staples are often used for incisions at the hairline, because less hair is caught in the incision, but these are removed within a week of surgery.

Thomas A. Mustoe, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Short Scar Facelift definition and details.


Short Scar Facelifts are a general term that includes Mini-Facelifts and the the various other brand names such as LifeStyle Lift, S-Lift, Quick Lift, LiteLift, MACS and others share the fact that the incisions (and therefore the resultant scars and amount of undermining) are less that a traditional facelift. Specifically the Traditional Facelift results in scars that go into the scalp behind the ear whereas for the most part the Short Scar Facelifts end just behind the earlobe or even shorter. The scars by the front of the ear and in the temple are similar for most of the mini-lifts. Those are the differences however there are many similarities - including skin re-draping and removing the excess. Staples are not used for "underlying tissue" but "skin clips or surgical staples" are used like stitches and removed a week or so afterwards by many in hair bearing areas so that shaving hair, or catching hair with sutures  is less likely. Screws are generally not used for facelifts but at one point were placed temporarily for endoscopic browlifts.


Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Short scar facelift is for patients with little skin laxity or shift.


A short scar facelift is simply just that. It can only be performed on people who have minimal skin shift and laxity when the facelift was done. If there is a lot of laxity in neck, jowl and face, the longer incision has to be made in order to get rid of the excess skin; otherwise, a dog ear or a pleat will be present at the end of the incision.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Short scar lift is a good choice in the right patient


I have performed short scar lifts when indicated for over 15 years. In a recent study performed on identical twins, I was able to show that the short scar incision was equally as effective as the full incision in the majority of patients. However, depending on the quality of skin and the amount of excess in the neck I sometimes prefer the full incision lift.

When a short scar incision is used for a facelift all of the work done under the skin is the same as in any other lift. It's simply performed with a shorter incision which requires more dexterity on the part of the surgeon. The advantage to the patient is that the incision is shorter, and it's very "pony tail friendly".

No screws are used and I suspect you might have read something about a brow lift where some surgeons occassionally use small screws to support things.

Think of a short scar lift as like building a ship in a bottle, but remember that if indicated the full incision lift should still be considered as there are cases where I believe it may still yield a superior result. This is why you need a consultation with an experienced surgeon who can best advise you what procedure to have done.

Darrick E. Antell, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 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.