Mini-facelifts offer quick recovery, attract patients

Benefits are less bruising, swelling, anesthesia

Take Friday off from work to have a facelift and return to work on Monday with a new, fresh look. Sound too good to be true? It is too good to be true, say experts interviewed by Same-Day Surgery.

While having a facelift doesn’t have to mean weeks of recovery, the term "weekend facelift" is a misnomer and can lead to unrealistic expectations by patients, says Daniel Morello, MD, a White Plains, NY, plastic surgeon and past president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in New York City.

In addition to the term weekend facelift, mini-lift, and minimal incision facelift are all used interchangeably, Morello says. Physicians and same-day surgery programs that promote such procedures need to be careful about describing the procedure and the results, he cautions. "Many times, a weekend facelift is really a neck operation that doesn’t involve the face or jowls," he says. "It is often little more than minor liposuction."

There are, however, facelifts that address certain segments of the face that require smaller incisions, less recovery time, and less bruising and swelling, says Robert Singer, MD, a plastic surgeon in La Jolla, CA. "This segmental facelift appeals to many patients who have one or two areas that they would like to improve," Singer says. These patients are generally in their 30s and 40s and don’t want to wait until they are in their late 50s to undergo a major procedure, he explains.

Mini-lifts, or segmental facelifts, might concentrate on cheeks, jowl line, or neck, Singer says. All of these require minimal incisions, less time in the operating room, and less anesthesia, he points out. These characteristics mean less swelling and bruising, and a faster recovery, he adds.

While a two-day complete recovery, which is implied with the term weekend facelift, is unrealistic, new techniques are cutting down on the amount of bruising, Morello says. "By using tissue glue to close the wound, we eliminate the need for drains, and most patients are wearing no dressing, or only a light dressing, at six days after surgery rather than 12 days after surgery using more traditional methods," he explains. "Of course, the amount of bruising and how long the bruises and swelling last differ from patient to patient."

Although the mini-lifts require less operating time by themselves, many patients will opt for several small procedures at one time so total operating room time may not be reduced drastically, Singer says. "A mini-procedure doesn’t mean mini-training," he says. "Although the procedure itself may be less invasive, the same risks associated with any surgery still exist."

For this reason, Singer recommends that same-day surgery managers or medical directors look carefully at the training of any surgeon who applies to perform mini-lifts or segmental facelifts. "Be sure that the surgeon is qualified to perform a variety of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures, not just one or two mini-procedures," he says. Surgeons who only perform mini-procedures may perform them on all patients whether they are good candidates or not, he says. Candidates for the mini-procedures have specific areas they want to improve, Singer says.

"If a same-day surgery program and its surgeons promise more than the mini-procedure can deliver, the patient will be unhappy with the results," he says. For this reason, a surgeon should be able to judge accurately what results the patient expects and what procedure will best attain those results, Singer says. A surgeon who is not qualified to perform a wide variety of procedures may not be able to provide the best procedure, especially if what is needed is more extensive than a mini-lift, he explains.

Baby boomers’ general attitude toward exercise, fitness, and health all point to an increasing demand for segmental facelifts, Singer says. The increasingly competitive job market is another reason people are interested in delaying the signs of aging, he says. "Many people believe a youthful, healthy appearance gives them an advantage," he explains.


For more information about modified facelift techniques, contact:

Daniel C. Morello, MD, 10 Chester Ave., White Plains, NY 10601. Telephone: (914) 761-8667. Web:

Robert Singer, MD, 9834 Genesee Ave., Suite 100, La Jolla, CA 92037. Telephone: (858) 455-0290. E-mail: Web: