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Full or Mini Facelift: Which is Right for Me?

As we get older, it's only natural to want to turn back the clock just a bit. Whether you choose to go au natural or get a little work done, there is no shame in going the extra mile to look and feel your very best.

"This is a completely personal decision, and surgery is a great option if you feel that it will make you feel better about yourself as you move up in the age brackets,” says Dana Johns, MD,  assistant professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at University of Utah Health.

Two common and highly effective options include mini and full facelifts. Here’s what you need to know while exploring your options.

The Mini Facelift

The mini facelift is a minimally invasive procedure that focuses on tightening the lower face from the cheekbone down to the jowls. This option is best for younger patients (40s and 50s) who are seeing moderate signs of aging.

The Procedure: Using a local anesthetic, the surgeon will cut small incisions along the hairline in front of each ear and tighten the skin around the cheekbones and down to the jawline. The entire procedure takes about 60 to 90 minutes to complete. 

Recovery Time: Known as the “weekend facelift,” patients can leave on their own and resume their normal activities within a couple of days. Full recovery takes about a week.

The Full Facelift

Recommended for older patients who are experiencing signs of advanced aging (typically aged 60 and above) the full facelift is a much more invasive procedure that smooths and tightens loose skin in the mid-to-lower face and neck.

The Procedure: Performed in an operating room while the patient is under general anesthesia, this procedure takes several hours to complete. The surgeon makes several small incisions around the ears and hairline to tighten the cheeks, neck, and jowls.

Recovery Time: Compared to the mini facelift, this procedure requires a ride home from the hospital and much more downtime. Full recovery takes about two to three weeks.

Pro Tip: For both procedures, it’s important to be mindful of complications. Watch for any bleeding, keep a close eye on your wounds, and kick all nicotine products to the curb immediately.

What Are the Results?

After recovery, the hands of time should go into reverse by three years for mini facelift patients and about a decade for full facelift patients. Improvements include:

  • Reduced appearance of jowls
  • A more defined jawline
  • Tightened marionette lines (from the corner of your mouth to the chin)
  • Tightened neck wrinkles (full facelifts only)

How Can I Find the Best Doctor?

When it comes to shopping for plastic surgeons, it’s important to do your due diligence. Look for a board-certified surgeon and/or an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist in facial plastic surgery.

"If you don't see 'board certified' on their website, they're probably trying to hide something,” Johns says. “Any of us who have done the training will put it up there loud and proud.”

While consulting with a surgeon, Johns recommends asking two pertinent questions:

  1. What are my best options?
  2. Why do you think that’s best for me?

"Doctors should be able to answer these questions articulately, and if they can't, you should get another opinion,” Johns says. “If they have the patient’s best interest in mind, they will recommend the least invasive procedure that will give the best results."

Whatever you decide, remember this is your own personal choice.

"Nobody should shame anybody for choosing plastic surgery,” Johns says. “When it comes down to it, this is your face and your life. Some people want to age naturally, while others choose plastic surgery. It all boils down to what feels right, and society needs to shift toward embracing both decisions.”