Gone are the days of a one size fits all approach in facelift surgery. Bay area residents considering plastic surgery have never had more choice when it comes to customizing a facial rejuvenation plan. But while the newest techniques and buzz words mean better-than-ever personalized results, patients are often confused by the terminology. As a plastic surgeon, it sometimes feels like I spend at least twice as much time explaining procedures as performing procedures! Here’s your cheat sheet for the different kinds of procedures that generally fall under the “facelift” umbrella.
• Traditional Facelift
Surgeons and patients often have different definitions when they use the word “facelift.” To me, a facelift is a surgical procedure to tighten the structures under the face and the skin over the face. The face is defined as the area of the cheeks, the mouth, and in front of the ears. The SMAS (superficial musculo-aponeurotic system) and facial skin is repositioned and tightened, with a more rejuvenated and natural appearance. A traditional facelift does not include the eyes, forehead, jaw or neck. But read on to see why most facelifts require work in these other areas, as well.
• Mini Lift
Mini facelifts have been in the news in recent years and patients always want to know more about them. Not really a true medical term, a mini facelift most often refers to the length of the incision. A regular facelift has an incision in front of the ear, and usually has a hidden incision behind the ear. In a mini facelift, this incision is just in front of the ear and goes to the earlobe. It tends to not go behind the ear or in the hairline.
The Good News: This is a good option for patients who don’t have much loose skin and who don’t need much a neck lift. It can usually be performed in an office or operating room without the need for general anesthesia, and it offers a quicker recovery time.
The Bad News: Most people are not candidates for a mini facelift. You may more skin than the procedure can accommodate, you may need a neck lift, or you may need more adjustment to their SMAS than can be accomplished with a mini lift.
• Mid Lift
A mid lift is also called a cheek lift because it focuses on the cheeks and the areas just below the eyes. If you imagine a line drawn from the corners of your mouth to your ears, a mid facelift addresses the areas above that line and below the corners of the eyes. It’s usually performed through lower eyelid incisions. Mid lift procedures do a great job of rejuvenating the face, assuming no work needs to be in the jawline or neck areas. Since it is a smaller incision with a more limited surgery area, it can cut down on swelling and recovery time. I often combine a mid lift with some fat grafting to replace lost volume under the eyes and in the nasolabial folds.
• Lower Lift
As gravity takes its toll, the skin around the jaw line begins to separate from the bone and sag. This is what creates jowls – think Droopy Dog. A lower lift, which is essentially a subcategory of a “traditional” facelift, will address that droopiness by pulling and tightening the skin around the chin and jaw. The disappearance of a defined jaw bone is one of the most tell-tale signs of advancing age. Getting a nicely defined jawline is a great sign of facial youth and rejuvenation. And unlike a little extra fat around the tummy, jowls cannot be eliminated at the gym. Very rarely is a lower lift performed without a neck lift. Tightening the lower face without addressing the sagging at the neck would create an unnatural look. Similarly, creating a youthful neck without rejuvenating the lower face would look, well, strange.
Which “lift” is for you?
While most patients know that they want a younger looking face, they don’t often know which procedures would work best. Of course, it depends on each individual’s facial structure and features, but most people will need one or more procedures to get optimal results. I would recommend starting early by working on smaller areas with smaller procedures over several years. This will not only shorten recovery time, it will allow you to avoid the dramatic change from a face that waited too long to a totally rejuvenated face. But, you know, that can be fun and rewarding too.
If you’d like more information on different kinds of facelifts, please contact our Patient Care Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 415 362 1846. We look forward to meeting you!
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