The decision to have a full facelift as opposed to a mini-facelift depends on the areas on your face that concern you from an aging standpoint and how much needs to be lifted or how much skin has to be removed.
A full facelift pulls the cheeks up and out, smoothing the cheek skin, treating sagging jowls and tightening up the neck as well; removing excess skin and fat in both the face and the neck in addition to suspending the muscles. It does nothing for the eyelids, forehead or brow although it is common to have additional surgery at the time of a facelift to treat those areas as well such as a blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) or brow lift. Typically, the biggest changes that occur from a full facelift are in the jowls and neck.
A mini-facelift concentrates more on just the lower cheek area and jowls with no real changes occurring in the neck. Mini-facelifts have become more popular with the ‘baby boomers’ that frequently make comments like, ‘I never want to look like my mother.’ It is a smaller procedure with shorter scars and, normally, less down time. A mini-facelift is best for patients whose neck still looks good but are starting to get sagging jowls causing their face to look more rectangular and aged. Since the changes are not as dramatic with a mini-facelift, the results do not last as long as a full lift; therefore, these patients are more likely to have another lift procedure done in the future. A mini-lift will not replace a full lift in patients who have severely sagging jowls and a lot of excess neck skin.
Those who are generally happy with their face but feel that their age shows in their neck, a neck lift can be done without affective the face. It is basically the lower half of a full facelift. A short incision is made under the chin to remove excess fat and to tighten the platysma muscle of the neck in the midline. Excess skin is taken out behind the ears so the incision in that area starts just behind the earlobe, runs up the crease behind the ear and either into the scalp or along the hairline depending on how much skin is to be removed.
None of these procedures will do much for the lines around the mouth. These are often treated at the same time as a facelift or a mini-facelift with resurfacing procedures such as a dermabrasion or laser treatment. Fillers such as Juvederm® or Restylane® can also be used in these lines with results lasting nine months to a year with very little down time. These treatments can also be done int he office after a facelift for those who are concerned about doing too much at once.
Modern Day Lift
Modern day facelifts and neck lifts are more about removing fat and suspending muscles while taking out excess and tightening the skin. This is in an effort to create a more natural look as opposed to an 'operated' or 'wind-swept' appearance that was common with older facelift techniques.