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What Is a Facelift?

A facelift is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to minimize skin laxity, tighten loose muscles, reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles, and rejuvenate the face. Facelift surgery, whether performed using the full or mini facelift technique, can be an effective procedure on its own, or it can be combined with other surgical or non-surgical treatments to achieve comprehensive facial rejuvenation.

Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Perry, employs the latest approaches, and he can help you determine if facelift surgery is right for your needs and desired outcome. If so, Dr. Perry will create a customized treatment plan designed to achieve your goals with results that look both beautiful and natural.

What Is a Mini Facelift?

A mini facelift is ideal for those just beginning to show the signs of aging. It can refine the results of a full facelift or be performed on its own. This technique utilizes tiny incisions and is sometimes referred to as “the weekend” facelift because recovery is so quick. The mini facelift is especially useful for those with moderate laxity in the skin of the lower face, as well as those wishing for increased jawline definition.

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What Benefits Can Facelift Provide?

Facelift surgery remains one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for many reasons. The benefits can vary from person to person, but in general patients can expect to see some of the following improvements:

The procedure can be customized to your specifications, so other benefits may apply. Additionally, if you add other surgical or non-surgical techniques, these collectively can provide more comprehensive aesthetic enhancement. Facelift or mini facelift surgery is often combined with HALO® laser resurfacing, nano fat transfer, eyelid surgery, brow lift, or injectable products such as BOTOX® Cosmetic. These treatments address other common signs of aging that facelift alone cannot combat. Occasionally, a facelift can even be combined with a lip lift. Thread lifts of the neck can also be performed at the same time.

Am I Good a Candidate for a Facelift or Mini Facelift?

The ideal candidate for facelift surgery is healthy, mentally stable, and has skin laxity in the neck and mid- to lower face. If your skin laxity is mild to moderate, you may be an ideal candidate for a mini facelift. For either procedure, it is best to be at a stable weight, have good skin elasticity, and strong bone structure.

Facelift or mini facelift is not recommended for:

Things to Consider Before Undergoing Facelift or Mini Facelift Surgery

Financial Responsibilities

Fees for facelift surgery are not covered by health insurance and include surgical and facility fees, anesthesia fees, and more. If complications arise, you may incur additional fees.

Longevity of Facelift Results

Facelift surgery results do not last forever. The results of a traditional facelift generally last seven to 10 years and the results of mini facelift, five to seven years.

Pre-Operative Facial Condition

Skin elasticity, skin type, bone structure, ethnic background, and other factors all affect the results of facelift surgery. It is impossible to predict the exact results of facelift surgery, and it is possible that the results will be disappointing or different than you expected.

Post-Operative Healing and Scarring

If you have very short hair, you might want to let it grow out before the surgery to aid in concealing incisions.

How Is Facelift Surgery Performed?

The techniques used in facelift surgery have advanced significantly since the days of tightly stretched facial skin and visible scars. Today, Dr. Perry takes great care to securely tighten the face’s underlying tissue and muscles along with the superficial layers of the face. This can provide more natural-looking results and a longer-lasting outcome.

In the standard or traditional facelift technique, Dr. Perry works through an incision that is hidden in the hairline at the temple and extends to the front of the ear, around the earlobe, and back into the hairline. He will tighten sagging facial and neck muscles, and smooth the skin to a more youthful position, excising any excess. The skin is carefully sutured, and the surgeon may place a drain behind the ear to release fluid. If a neck lift is performed in conjunction with the facelift, the incision will be placed under the chin.

The mini facelift is also called the S-lift facelift, after the shape of the incisions, which follow the ear’s natural curve and extend upward into the hairline. This incision allows Dr. Perry to tighten the muscles, tissue, and skin of the mid- and lower face. Just as in the traditional facelift, the mini facelift tightens the face’s underlying structures and removes excess skin.

What Is Facelift Recovery Like?

Facelift surgery is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to return home the same day as the operation. Swelling, bruising, and some minor discomfort are to be expected, and we will provide prescription medication to manage your pain. Most patients take between one to two weeks off from work to heal, and you should keep your head elevated at all times to speed recovery. That means when you’re sleeping you should use a couple of pillows or more as needed to keep your head lifted and comfortable. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least one month, although gentle activity can be resumed after about two weeks. We will provide follow-up care at several stages in the healing process to ensure you are on a path to success. Swelling will continue for some months, although you may not notice these effects after the first three or four weeks.

How Long Does a Facelift Last?

The results of a full facelift may last anywhere from 7 to 10 years. A mini facelift may produce outcomes that last from 5 to 7 years. With that in mind, here is an interesting thing to note about the potential longevity of facelift results: in essence, you should always look younger than you would have looked had you never undergone this procedure. Naturally, the aging process will continue and your initial results from facelift surgery will not last forever; but, in a way, facelift surgery “resets” the clock, restarting the aging process from a different point in time. Patients can help maintain the results of facelift or mini facelift surgery for as long as possible by sticking to a healthy diet, keeping their weight steady, regularly applying strong sun protection, and establishing an effective daily skin care routine.

How Noticeable Are Facelift Scars?

Facelift scars are often easily concealable since the incisions are typically made in areas that are inconspicuous, such as behind the ear and within the hairline. In addition, Dr. Perry has performed this procedure many times and utilizes very meticulous incision and suturing techniques to minimize the prominence of residual scarring as much as possible.

Risks of Facelift Surgery

The following list serves as an introduction to some of the risks of facelift surgery. You will have further discussion of the surgery’s risks during your pre-surgery consultations with Dr. Perry. The risks of mini facelift are generally milder when compared to traditional facelift, as the procedure is less invasive; however, in all cases you must be prepared for the possibility that complications can arise.

Bleeding and Hematoma

Facelift and mini facelift are considered to be very safe surgeries. However, bleeding episodes or hematoma (fluid accumulation under the skin) can occur and might require a return trip to the hospital.

Hair Loss at Incision Sites

Hair loss may be temporary or permanent.

Numbness or Injury to Nerves That Control Facial Muscles

This is usually temporary but can be permanent.

Reactions to Anesthesia

Poor Healing

While the chance of poor healing can be reduced by not smoking and carefully following post-surgical instructions, it is impossible to predict.

Wide Scarring

In some cases, this may be corrected with further surgery.


As no face is perfectly balanced, absolute symmetry is not to be expected after facelift surgery. In some cases, there will be marked asymmetry, which can make you disappointed with the results of your surgery.

Skin Necrosis (Tissue Death)

Are There Alternatives to Facelift Surgery?

Depending on each patient’s unique anatomical characteristics and ultimate goals for enhancement, there are alternatives to facelift surgery that can be considered for those who may not need or desire this particular procedure to achieve effective rejuvenation. While facelift surgery can produce the longest results and provide the most significant outcomes for this specific facial region, there are certainly other options that can be explored.

Non-surgical treatments such as injectable dermal fillers can provide temporary reduction of facial wrinkles and fine lines, while laser skin resurfacing and light-based therapies may also serve as good options to diminish signs of aging and refresh the skin’s appearance. In some cases, patients may benefit more from a facial plastic surgery procedure that addresses concerns located in the upper face rather than the mid- to lower facial region, depending on their individual priorities. Other times, through a small incision, a thread lift can be performed using the Xact device from Cypris Medical, lifting the cheeks and neck muscles and enhancing the appearance with minimal downtime.

Dr. Perry encourages all patients to ask questions and to be forthcoming about their wishes, goals, and expectations during the initial consultation. He will be happy to discuss all of your options with you and make a recommendation as to whether facelift, mini facelift, or another procedure is the most ideal treatment.

How Much Does Facelift Surgery Cost?

We tailor every treatment plan to your individual needs and goals, and as such, you may find that the price of a facelift can vary from person to person. In general, the estimated price range for this procedure, which covers a number of different approaches—including a mini facelift, a full facelift, a full facelift with laser treatment for eyelids or treatment for the brows—is often between $14,765 to $19,804. Again, the total price estimate will be based on the specific techniques that will be chosen for your customized treatment plan. It is our practice to provide the total anticipated cost in a surgical quote so that you have the information you need to make the best decision for you. Furthermore, we offer a broad selection of payment and plastic surgery financing options to help you bring the price of the treatment plan into your budget. Questions? We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Complete Pre- and Post-Operative Instructions for Facelift and Mini Facelift Patients

Dr. Perry has prepared this comprehensive list of instructions to make your facelift experience as smooth as possible. We recommend that you read them over as soon as your surgery day is scheduled, then print them out and bring them with you on your surgery day.

Facelift Instructions (printer-friendly)

To schedule a consultation or learn more about traditional or mini facelift, contact our practice.

*Individual Results May Vary