Mini-Facelift; Myth or Magic?

06/15/2015 04:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 14, 2016

The pursuit of a youthful facial appearance may involve everything from moisturizers to facelift surgery, with fillers and Botox bridging the gap in between. A facelift is the biggest step and can be a daunting process. The journey includes local and/or general anesthesia, postoperative swelling and bruising, extended recovery time and hefty plastic surgeon fees. That is exactly the reason why wrinkle fighters like Botox and facial fillers enjoy such wide popularity.These remedies have revolutionized facial rejuvenation, but are only effective up to a point. Unfortunately, it is also why we are seeing too many people looking, shall we say, odd? Abuse and overuse of Botox and fillers is causing too many faces to look paralyzed, puffed up and generally abnormal.

Hence, an evolution of the traditional facelift to the Mini-Facelift or Short Scar Rhytidectomy. The standard facelift operation involves incisions extending from the scalp above the ear running in front, around and then behind the ear and back into the scalp. Facial skin on the cheeks and neck is dissected free and underlying muscle and fascia of the face and neck is dissected and tightened. Excess skin is trimmed and the incisions sutured closed. Drains are often needed.

While techniques vary somewhat, Mini-Facelift incisions are shorter, dissection of skin is less extensive and tightening of underlying muscle and fascia less also. The surgery can be done under local anesthesia, with or without sedation.

Shorter scars, quicker recovery and decreased complications are the draw, but the operation is not for everyone. The technique was designed for the younger patients just starting to show the signs of aging, with early jowl formation of the mid-face and sagging of the neck under the chin. The classic and frequent request heard by plastic surgeons from many women in their early fifties; "I just want a little lift right here" as they place each hand on opposite sides of the face, modestly lifting their cheek and neck skin upward. Belgian plastic surgeons Tonnard and Verpaele listened to their patient's desires and developed a Mini-Facelift, called the MACS Lift (minimal access cranial suspension lift). It has become the go-to short scar facelift for many plastic surgeons because of the simplicity of the technique, quality result and high patient satisfaction. The result is pleasing, but not dramatic.

The problem is certain practitioners and "corporation plastic surgery practices" proclaim their Mini-Facelift to be the best and get carried away with claims of spectacular cosmetic results requiring only one weekend for recovery and no bruising and no swelling! Lifestyle Lift,a nationwide cosmetic surgery chain, made similar claims. They ran into trouble over the years with state attorneys general offices who have questioned the company's advertising practices. In 2009, then-New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that Lifestyle Lift had agreed to pay $300,000 in penalties to settle claims that its employees published fake, positive consumer reviews on the Internet. They filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

In the end, Mini-facelift surgery is an option, not a Panacea! It offers an alternative and a reasonable bridge for the younger middle aged individual who is battling Father Time when less invasive procedures like Botox and fillers can't keep up. Seek out a board certified plastic surgeon because it is still an operation and it does require recovery time, and like all surgery, the possibility of complications exist. However, in the properly selected patient, outcomes can be rewarding. This surgery offers less dramatic results, which is not such a bad thing in a younger patient desiring to look refreshed, not different!