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Mini facelift surgery is the most common type of facelift surgery performed today. It addresses wrinkles and sagging skin on the lower third of the face using small incisions placed around the ears. It restores definition to the chin by removing excess tissue and artfully tightening remaining tissue. A skilled plastic surgeon can tailor a mini facelift procedure to give you a youthful, more refreshed appearance that accentuates your natural beauty and boosts your confidence.
Mini facelift surgery appeals to many men and women because it can address some of the most prominent signs of aging. For example, some people experience hormonal changes, or are genetically predisposed to losing definition in their jaw. Many patients turn to mini facelift surgery to restore this definition.
If you have noticed a loss of definition in your jaw due to sagging skin or excess fat tissue and you would like to restore a youthful appearance, you may be a candidate for a mini facelift. By familiarizing yourself with the basic principles of this surgery, you can engage your surgeon in an informed consultation and outline a treatment plan that can provide beautiful, natural-looking results.
The Benefits of Mini Facelift Surgery
Mini facelift surgery can provide a wealth of physical and emotional benefits:
- Minimal Scarring - Incisions are easily concealed within your natural facial contours and hairline.
- Minimal Side Effects - A mini facelift results in less swelling, bruising, and tenderness than a more extensive facelift surgery.
- Conservative Treatment - Mini facelift surgery addresses primarily the lower third of your face and neck. The procedure will complement your natural features, giving you an enhancement commensurate with your degree of skin laxity and wrinkles
- Self Confidence - Feeling confident about your appearance can make a tremendous difference in your quality of life.
- Efficiency - In many cases, mini facelifts can be completed in a few hours.
- Conservative anesthesia - A mini facelift can be done using local anesthesia, allowing the patient to remain conscious throughout the procedure without feeling pain. As such, patients do not have to experience the groggy disorientation and risks that follows general anesthesia having been placed upon "life-support".
Mini Facelift Planning and Preparation
The first step in a mini facelift experience is a consultation with a plastic surgeon. If you are considering any cosmetic surgery, it is important that your surgeon present you with several different options, rather than excessive or one-size-fits-all procedures. If you are considering a facelift, it is especially important to select a surgeon who performs facelifts frequently and delivers consistently excellent results. Once you and your surgeon have decided upon your surgical plan, you can schedule the procedure. You will need to ask a friend or relative to drive you to and from the clinic.
Immediately prior to surgery, your surgeon will administer anesthesia. I find local anesthesia to be suitable to a mini facelift not only because it ensures a patient's comfort, but also because it may be administered without a breathing tube. As such, the patient's jaw can remain in its natural position, which allows me to deliver the most accurate treatment.
SMAS Lifting is Essential
SMAS mini lift surgery has become the standard of care, as cutaneous (skin-only) facelift surgery simply cannot deliver results that look as natural
It is important to recognize that a mini facelift yields substantial results despite its "mini" distinction. It involves alteration of not only the patient's skin, but also the immediate underlying muscular system, called the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system), and fat tissues. By lifting and refining these tissues along with your skin, your surgeon can enhance your natural facial contours and provide results that appear both natural and significant. SMAS mini lift surgery has become the standard of care, as cutaneous (skin-only) facelift surgery simply cannot deliver results that look as natural.
Keith G. Saxon, M.D., a plastic surgeon practicing in Kansas City, MO, explains that a cutaneous facelift basically fails to address the bigger picture:
"It's not just the facial skin that's aging," Dr. Saxon said. "My goal for each patient is to take care of all of the tissues that are aging, which includes the skin and the supportive structures underneath, as well as the SMAS and fat tissues."
The Mini Lift Procedure
During mini facelift surgery, your surgeon will locate incisions in front of your ears that extend from the bottom of your earlobe to your hairline, behind your ear. The length and pattern of your incisions depends on your needs and your surgeon's technique. Next, your surgeon will pull your tissues upward and outward toward your ears. This technique reduces sagging skin and jowls, as well as the appearance of wrinkles.
Once the SMAS and skin reach a position that accentuates your natural bone structure and facial contours, they are sutured into place, and excess tissue is trimmed away. I personally use permanent sutures for the SMAS. Other surgeons may use surgical staples or removable sutures. In total, a mini facelift can take about two hours.
Recovering from Mini Facelift Surgery
Some surgeons refer to mini facelift surgery as a "weekend" facelift." This can be somewhat misleading. While some patients can return to work as early as a week after surgery, others may require several weeks to heal from swelling and other side effects. It may take up to a year before final results are apparent.
Since mini facelift surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, you will return to your home to rest the same day as the surgery. You may be given a compression garment to wear home. In the past, it was common for surgeons to place drains at surgical sites in order to prevent fluid accumulation. However, many surgeons, myself included, have refined their techniques to make drains unnecessary.
In many cases, you will return to your plastic surgeon's office the day after surgery for a follow-up consultation
In many cases, you will return to your plastic surgeon's office the day after surgery for a follow-up consultation. Your surgeon will schedule further follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery. After about a week, your surgeon will remove your sutures.
It is common for patients to experience side effects such as bruising, swelling, redness, sensitivity, temporary loss of sensation, and some discomfort in the weeks following surgery mini facelift. You may also experience some sensations of tightness as your body adjusts to the feeling of newly repositioned tissues.
Lori is a patient of mine who underwent eyelid surgery. She loved the results, but said it made the lack of definition in her chin more apparent to her. Lori decided she wanted a mini facelift, and together we determined a treatment plan to address sagging tissues that were making her jaw appear square. She said her recovery was swift, and she achieved the rejuvenated appearance she wanted.
"During the first week, my face felt a little tight, like plastic," Lori said. "When I touched it, it was like I didn't have feeling for a few days, and then it came back. I was so thrilled that I was able to go back to work within ten days after surgery, and everyone thought my results looked natural."
Some patients can return to work within the first week after surgery, while others, like Lori, may need ten days or more. You will need to refrain from any type of strenuous activities that might significantly raise your heart rate during the week following surgery. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe to resume strenuous activities and exercise. By following your surgeon's explicit instructions and maintaining your overall health, you can expect beautiful, natural-looking results within the year following surgery.
Combining Surgical Procedures
The goal of every facial cosmetic surgery procedure is to achieve harmony - in other words, after a patient has recovered, it should not be obvious that he or she underwent plastic surgery
The goal of every facial cosmetic surgery procedure is to achieve harmony - in other words, after a patient has recovered, it should not be obvious that he or she underwent plastic surgery. Ideally, the enhancement should blend with the patient's overall facial appearance for natural-looking rejuvenation.
"The mini facelift is really a convergence of new technologies, face lifting techniques, and the world of wellness and how they interplay," Farhan Taghizadeh, M.D., a plastic surgeon practicing in Albuquerque, said. "A balanced facelift practice today has integrated several technologies and treatments to mix and match the best plan for each patient."
In order to achieve aesthetic harmony, your surgeon may recommend combining a mini facelift with other surgical enhancements to achieve more extensive rejuvenation. In other cases, goals may simply require more than what a mini facelift alone can provide.
Treatments commonly combined with a mini facelift include:
Neck Lift: A neck lift can address the skin that extends from the chin to the collar bones - essentially, the skin that is visible when you wear a t-shirt. It involves removing excess skin and lifting remaining skin and underlying platysma muscles to restore definition. In some cases, a neck lift can be performed using the same incisions created during your mini lift. In other cases, it may require small incisions under your chin.
Mid Facelift: A mid facelift addresses the area of the face that extends from the cheekbones to the jaw. Using incisions similar to those used in a mini facelift, your surgeon can artfully tighten the SMAS and overlying tissue to restore definition to the cheeks and reduce the prominence of nasolabial folds. This can provide dramatic rejuvenation when combined with a mini facelift.
Brow Lift: A brow lift, sometimes called an upper facelift, involves tightening the skin of the upper third of your face, or forehead. Patients who develop wrinkles or creases on their foreheads and between their eyebrows can be excellent candidates for a brow lift. This procedure can be an outstanding complement to a mini facelift, helping a patient to not only regain definition in the jaw, but also look generally more rested and refreshed.
Blepharoplasty: A blepharoplasty procedure targets the area around your eyes. Treatment can involve reducing puffy "bags" in the lower eyelids, or lifting the upper lids to achieve a more "awake, alert" appearance.
Maintaining Your Mini Facelift
A mini facelift can provide incredible results, but it is important to understand the aging process continues. Over time, even refined tissues age. Fortunately, there are several types of non-surgical and minimally invasive techniques that can help enhance and maintain your results.
Some common treatments that may be used before and after a mini facelift include:
- Ablative and fractional laser treatments to address skin blemishes like large pores and scarring from acne
- BOTOX® Cosmetic injections to temporarily stop muscle contractions that result in fine lines and wrinkles
- Dermal filler injections to add youthful volume to lips, cheeks, and other areas of the face
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, sometimes called a Vampire Facelift®, which use your own isolated growth factors to increase collagen production and blood flow, which is purported to rejuvenate skin tone
- Liposuction, or surgical fat removal, to eliminate stubborn fat deposits and restore definition in specific areas of the face
- Fat transfer (fat grafting), a process of removing unwanted fat from one area of the body, such as from the neck, and injecting it into that the face
- Exilis® treatments, which use radiofrequency technology to tighten skin and increase collagen production
In addition to surgical and non-surgical treatments, maintaining your overall health can be highly beneficial to your appearance. Your surgeon can prescribe specific vitamins and skin care products for you to take before and after surgery to maintain the health of your skin. You should also maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, limited alcohol consumption, and abstinence from tobacco. A mini facelift can turn back the clock, and an excellent skin care regimen and healthy lifestyle choices can delay the development of new signs of aging.
Affording Your Mini Facelift
A mini facelift is an elective surgery, which means you can expect to pay for the entire cost of treatment out of pocket. Many surgical practices provide in-house financing or accept medical credit cards. Your surgeon's staff can help you apply for these finance services.
The cost of cosmetic surgery is high by virtually anyone's standards, but if you educate yourself about the factors affecting cost, you stand to experience the greatest returns on your investment. The cost of your surgery depends on your surgeon's expertise and experience, the type of anesthesia or sedation you receive, the type of facility in which the surgery is performed, the complexity of your procedure, and the cost of any pre- and post-operative appointments and medications you receive. You should also keep in mind that any treatments performed in conjunction with a mini facelift will increase the total cost.
There has never been a better time to be a consumer, and when it comes to choosing a plastic surgeon to perform a mini facelift, you have a wealth of resources at your fingertips. Conduct extensive research to identify the most reputable surgeons in your area, and schedule consultations with several of them. An outstanding surgeon will listen patiently to your goals and concerns, and offer multiple options to help you achieve the enhancement you desire.
Achieving Big Benefits with a Mini Facelift
No surgery can make a middle-aged patient look like a teenager, but conservative procedures like a mini facelift can restore facial definition that looks attractive at any age
A mini facelift is a landmark procedure that directly reflects a shift in plastic surgery - toward giving patients the most natural-looking results possible. No surgery can make a middle-aged patient look like a teenager, but conservative procedures like a mini facelift can restore facial definition that looks attractive at any age. When you choose a skilled plastic surgeon with an excellent reputation for beautiful results, you can expect to achieve an enhancement that leaves others noticing your refreshed and rejuvenated appearance - not your facelift.
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