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 28

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

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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
4.9 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Mini facelift

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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, FACS
Chevy Chase Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Minifacelift Has Many Names

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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 126 reviews

Difference between MINI facelift and MODIFIED facelift

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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

Different Surgeons, Different Techniques

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The difference between a mini facelift and a modified facelift may be enormous — or there may not be one at all. That's because the terms "mini" and "modified" are unregulated, which means that there is no universal approach to these procedures. Each surgeon has his or her own preferred technique for mini facelifts, and one surgeon's mini may be another surgeon's modified. To be certain of the effectiveness of your procedure, ask your surgeon to review his or her technique with you. That way you can be sure that your procedure precisely matches your aesthetic goals. Good luck!

James N. Romanelli, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Facelift or mini Lift?

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Thank you for your question. A mini lift tends to refer to minimally invasive facelift techniques and often skin tightening only.  These techniques are best suited to patients with mild aging changes. Moderate to severe aging changes would more likely benefit from a more traditional facelift. I would recommend consultation with a facial plastic surgeon to discuss what option is best for you.

"This answer has been solicited without seeing this patient and cannot be held as true medical advice, but only opinion. Seek in-person treatment with a trained medical professional for appropriate care."

Mini Facelift vs. Modified Facelift

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Thank you for your question. With all the names out there for various facelifts, it is difficult to understand what is what at some points. A minifacelift generally will remove excessive skin and pull the remaining skin to the side for a more youthful look, whereas a modified facelift may orient itself towards the neck more for greater and more long-lasting results.

Ramtin Kassir, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 180 reviews

Facelift Variations

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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

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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
4.8 out of 5 stars 181 reviews

Mini vs Modified Facelifts

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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
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 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.