When patients consider a facelift, oftentimes they begin by wondering if they could get away with a mini facelift, or one of the other more heavily marketed versions like the “Lunchtime Facelift.” The names of these procedures make them seem less of a procedure than a full facelift, which may be true, but may not be enough. Patients tend to desire that which will give them results while avoiding as much surgery as possible, before knowing exactly what it is they may need.
Board certified plastic surgeons breakdown the differences between various facelifts and what patients really need to know on the latest episode of No Spin Live!
Facelift vs. Mini – What’s the Difference?
As the name implies, a mini facelift is simply a facelift where less is accomplished. Maybe this is because the patient’s situation doesn’t require a full facelift, or maybe a mini may be enough rejuvenation for now. Either way, a mini is technically the same as a facelift. “Trying to compare a facelift vs. a mini facelift, I think these are all variations on a theme,” explains board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Pozner. “It’s basically the same surgery with similar incisions. If they need a lot of work, it’s a facelift, or a neck lift. If they need a little less work, I call it a mini and charge them a little less.”
When it comes to more marketable names, like the “Lifestyle Lift”, patients may have it in their head what they want before ever discussing with a surgeon what they need. Reeducating patients is a key component to determining what kind of operation is necessary. “I think it’s really confusing for patients, especially when they hear ‘Lifestyle Lift’ or ‘Lunchtime Lift’,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Tiffany McCormack. “I try to break it down similarly to how much work they would need as an individual. Instead of saying mini or full, I’ll often say short scar vs. longer scar. If somebody has a lot of excess skin that needs to be displaced elsewhere then they’re going to get a longer scar up behind the neck. If there’s not a lot of extra tissue for me to work with, then it’s a short scar.”
A Facelift Can Mean Different Things
The most important aspect when understanding a facelift procedure is that they are not all the same. Patients who “need a facelift” are not going to have the exact same operation as other patients. The procedure is individualized heavily, based on the unique aspects of a patient’s face and their goals.”
“I think there are three components to facelift,” says Dr. Dan Del Vecchio, a board certified plastic surgeon in Boston. “One is, the amount of surgery you need to do to get the result. Two is the price. Three is what you tell the patient it’s called. That’s a fluid dynamic. I try to be fluid with the patient and let the patient talk first. If you let the patient talk enough, they’ll tell you what they want.”
The patient-surgeon dynamic is critical for many procedures, including a facelift. Are they lacking volume? Is there an excessive amount of skin? Is the skin loose, or still firm? Is there a lot of neck skin that needs excising? The answers to these questions will determine what kind of facelift a surgeon will perform and how much is necessary to achieve the patient’s goals.
“It’s about managing expectations and then trying to find exactly what bothers a patient and addressing that in particular,” says board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Messa of Florida. “Some people might just want a little tightening along the jawline, some people want their neck tighter or they want more volume in their face. It’s a multi-faceted approach to facial aging and it really depends on what the patient is looking for in terms of their own individual goals.”
In the end, a facelift is a serious procedure that can produce seriously great results. No matter what a patient may hear or read, what they need will ultimately be discovered during a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. From there, a decision can be made whether or not a facelift or a mini facelift will be the best choice.