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What is the Difference Between a Normal Facelift and a Mini Facelift?

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What is the Difference Between a Normal Facelift and a Mini Facelift?

Apr 12, 2019

If you’re considering facelift surgery, one thing to keep in mind is whether your procedure will be a full facelift or the less invasive mini facelift. Both can give great results, but which is right for you? Dr. Eric Cerrati, cosmetic surgeon at University of Utah Health, explains the differences, what results you can expect, and whether or not a mini facelift is right for you.

Episode Transcript

Announcer: Health information from experts supported by research. From University of Utah Health, this is

Interviewer: What is the difference between a mini facelift versus a normal facelift? Dr. Eric Cerrati is the director of facial plastic surgery at University of Utah Health. And Dr. Cerrati, I'm just going to guess here, I think the difference probably is, like, a mini is just a smaller version of a facelift. Am I right? Do we need to go further?

Dr. Cerrati: Kind of true, but there are some, you know, details we should talk about.

Interviewer: Okay. It's a little more complicated than what I just made it.

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly.

What Is a Mini Facelift?

Interviewer: All right. So what is the difference between a mini facelift and a normal facelift?

Dr. Cerrati: So, first off, they recently did a study surveying facial plastic surgeons all across the country trying to define that exact question. And what they found with it is that there is no consensus about what the difference is except that a mini facelift has a shorter scar. As far as the techniques and recovery and those sorts of things, they all differ from surgeon to surgeon.

Interviewer: Okay. So, really, it's interesting that you've got a lot of different people, they all have different definitions. So, for the customer or the person who's coming in, it's important that maybe they ask a few additional questions to find out how that particular person defines it.

Facelift Surgery Techniques

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly. So every surgeon has, you know, their own techniques that they do for facelift surgery. It used to be, back in the day, was just tightening skin. And now we've learned that, you know, a more natural, more rejuvenated look is to tighten the muscles underneath the skin. And so that layer is either, you know, pulled tighter, it's resected, and then, you know, sewn in a more suspended fashion, the ligaments of the face are at least. You know, I personally do a deep plane facelift, where I release the ligaments of the face and re-suspend it in a more natural position. So my mini facelift is essentially the same thing, just with a shorter scar.

Interviewer: Okay. And that also sounds like it could differ from surgeon to surgeon.

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, okay. So let's back up a second here. A patient comes in. They're interested in a facelift. They come into your office. They think maybe they want a mini facelift. They don't know for sure. Where do you start this conversation?

The Right Facelift for You

Dr. Cerrati: So, really, patients who are going to be, you know, good candidates for a mini facelift are ones that don't have a lot of excess skin or neck skin laxity. And that's really what the extended incision allows you to do, is to remove that excess skin. You know, it tends to be underneath the neck. So for younger patients, say 40s, 50s, you know, usually you can just keep the scar kind of right around the ear and not really extend it back into the hairline, which would qualify for a mini facelift.

Interviewer: Gotcha. And what about somebody that maybe had a lot of weight and then lost a lot of weight? It sounds like maybe a mini facelift would not be the best option because you've got more skin to take care of.

Dr. Cerrati: Yeah. So that differs patient to patient. But usually, those patients have more skin laxity that needs to be addressed.

Interviewer: Okay. So, to summarize, I mean, am I getting the summary right, a full facelift is when perhaps you've got more skin that needs to be tightened versus the mini facelift where it's somebody younger, maybe somebody who hasn't gained a lot of weight, lost a lot of weight, that doesn't have as much skin to move, they could get the mini?

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly, earlier signs of aging.

Mini Facelift Cost and Recovery

Interviewer: All right. So what's the difference then in recovery time, cost? I would think a mini might be less recovery and cheaper?

Dr. Cerrati: For faces that qualify for a mini facelift, it is a little bit cheaper, and the recovery time is a little bit shorter because it's less of a recovery for the neck portion. But, you know, I usually tell all my patients it's similar recovery, in that, you know, they have a face wrap that's on for 24 hours that's taken off. I don't use any drains, whether it's a mini or a full facelift. And again, there are variations from surgeon to surgeon. If someone really has very minor signs of aging and, you know, qualifies for a mini facelift, then a slightly less aggressive technique can be used, and that would significantly reduce the recovery time.

Interviewer: And do mini facelifts tend to look a little bit more natural then too?

Dr. Cerrati: I find that the technique actually affects how natural a result looks. I find that the deep plane facelift gives the most natural look, you know, and that can be done in a very aggressive fashion or a less invasive, tailored fashion for the patient. But every procedure is customized to the patient and what their needs are.

Interviewer: All right. And you have that conversation with the patient when you come in. How long does that normally take?

Dr. Cerrati: Oh, our consults usually last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and we kind of go through everything.

Mini Facelifts at the University of Utah

Interviewer: Yeah, gotcha. Okay. Let's talk about the procedure itself. Where is it generally performed?

Dr. Cerrati: I do it in the hospital setting, so here at the University of Utah, but the main hospital. And I also have an office and an operating room at South Jordan, both university facilities.

Interviewer: Is there an advantage to being able to have access to a hospital as opposed to maybe just being in a standalone clinic?

Dr. Cerrati: I think the advantages of coming to a university facility, whether it's out at South Jordan or one of our satellites locations versus the main hospital is that all the physicians within the university, you know, are board certified, very highly qualified, and you really receive topnotch care. In some private offices, you don't have board-certified anesthesiologists watching throughout the entire case. And so, you know, we really focusing on the details so that every patient gets the best possible care throughout their procedure.

Facelift: Before and After

Interviewer: Gotcha. And when you do a procedure with a patient, how do you and the patient then define success? So, when the procedure is done, you know, the patient is fair . . . because I would imagine this is kind of a scary thing. It could be a scary thing going in. Like, "Am I going to get the results I want?" This is, you know . . . how do you kind of work with the patient to make sure they get exactly what it is that they hoped for?

Dr. Cerrati: So I would say, across the board, facelift surgery is probably one of the highest satisfaction rates out of all facial plastic surgery procedures. But we mimic what we do by pulling on the skin and trying to give the patient idea what the jawline and what the cheeks would look like afterwards. We show them before and after pictures and try to have as detailed of a conversation as we can.

Risks of Plastic Surgery

Interviewer: And then, what about the risks, because that would be something else that perhaps would be a concern? I think we kind of touched on this a little bit. Here in the university setting, you're going to have, you know, like you said, the anesthesiologist is here to make sure that that goes okay. What are some of the other risks that you look out for that you really try to mitigate?

Dr. Cerrati: So the surgical risk in the procedure, there's bleeding and infection. Obviously, we do everything we can to try to minimize those. Anytime you make an incision to the skin, there's a risk of scarring. Facelift scars, you know, we hide them as best we can behind all the little crevices in the ears. So it's all hidden in shadows. And, you know, the main risk is really that you're close to the facial nerve, you know, the nerves that innervate all the muscles of the face. You know, we are a couple, you know, layers above it, but it is within a few millimeters. So careful surgical technique and training really allow you to get the exact result that you're going for.

Interviewer: Yeah. So you really want somebody who knows what they're doing.

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly.

Interviewer: That's got the skill and does a lot of the procedures and that sort of thing. So, hopefully, this is just probably a small part of the conversation you might have if somebody actually came in for a consultation. If somebody has any more questions, where would they go at that point?

Asking Questions and Choosing a Surgeon

Dr. Cerrati: So I always welcome patients, you know, when we're first having this conversation, obviously, ask everything. I kind of give them my spiel kind of start to finish. And I tell them if they ever have questions, write them down, call the office, come back in, we can do another conversation. And so that way, they're fully informed, fully comfortable with proceeding. I mean, the most important thing is the patient needs to be very comfortable with the surgeon, you know, the facility, and the plan that they're undertaking.

Interviewer: You mentioned that the patient should be really comfortable with the surgeon performing the procedure. And I know there's a lot of surgeons here that perform mini facelifts and normal facelifts. Give us some just general advice on how you might be able to figure out, you know, who might be best for you because, you know, it might be you, it might be one of your talented colleagues.

Dr. Cerrati: Exactly. So there are a handful of surgeons here at the university, all very talented, come from slightly different training, but offer very good work. And that's why it's very important for the patient to have an in-person consultation. In that way, they feel comfortable with the surgeon that they're choosing.

Interviewer: And regardless of whether it's you or one of your other colleagues, are there some things that you all have in common?

Dr. Cerrati: As being part of the university, we keep abreast on all the cutting-edge technologies here, offer the most advanced facial plastic surgery procedures. And again, we all come from slightly different training, which, you know, plays to the advantage of the different care that we can offer here at the university.

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