Mini vs. Full Facelift: How Do I Choose?

Facial aging varies significantly from patient to patient. Some people undergo their first facelift in their 30s, while others don’t feel ready until much later. Fortunately, facelift surgery can be customized to your needs, whether you’re in need of substantial rejuvenation or subtle correction of facial aging.

This versatile procedure can be performed as a full facelift or mini facelift. The procedure that is right for you ultimately depends on your cosmetic goals and the extent of your facial aging. Dr. Eric Pugash has put together this informative guide to help you decide which facelift technique would best suit your needs.

The Mini Facelift

This procedure is also called a short scar facelift. The incision begins in the hair on the side of the head, and descends in front of the ear.  It does not curve around to the back of the ear, as in the case of the incision required for a full facelift. Once the incision is made the deeper facial structures are moved to a more youthful position, excess skin is removed and the skin is re-draped. Excess fat may also be removed during this procedure.

Many find the mini facelift to be an attractive option because it allows women to wear their hair up without worrying about visible scars behind the ear.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Mini Facelift Surgery?

While non-invasive treatments and injectables are great for very mild signs of aging, more advanced changes may require something more. The mini facelift bridges the gap between full facelift surgery and non-invasive treatments.

Ideal candidates for a mini facelift include men and women who exhibit the following:

  • Mild skin laxity without severe sagging
  • Wrinkles that don’t benefit from less-invasive treatments
  • A tired or aged appearance

The Full Facelift

A full facelift is the procedure of choice for those who have significant laxity of the jawline and neck. The incision for this surgery is like the one used for a mini facelift, but it also curves behind the ear and into the hair. This longer incision makes full facelift surgery a more effective method of correcting the major signs of aging, such as severe sagging and deep skin folds of the lower face.

Once the incision is made the underlying facial muscles are tightened, excess fat is removed (when needed), sagging skin is excised, the deeper facial structures are repositioned, and the skin is re-draped. This subtly reverses the cosmetic changes caused by aging and results in a naturally rejuvenated look.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Full Facelift Surgery?

Full facelift surgery is very beneficial for those who have advanced facial aging. People seeking this procedure usually have the following:

  • Severe skin laxity on the face and neck
  • Deep skin folds and wrinkles
  • Jowling

Other Things You Should Consider


When considering which facelift surgery is right for you, you should also take the recovery into consideration. Since mini facelift surgery uses a less-invasive approach, it may produce less discomfort and require a shorter recovery period. It’s typical for patients to experience mild bruising, swelling and soreness after their surgery, but most can return to work within two to three weeks. Full facelift surgery requires a recovery period of about three to four weeks.

Combining Procedures

The eyelids and forehead are common problem areas when it comes to facial aging, but these areas are not addressed by a mini or full facelift. For this reason many patients choose to have their surgery performed with additional procedures, including the following:

  • Eyelid Surgery (Blepharoplasty): Many people develop drooping eyelids and puffy eyebags over time. Eyelid surgery restores a more youthful look by removing sagging eyelid skin and reducing fat from the upper and lower lids.
  • Forehead Lift/Brow Lift: The forehead also loses elasticity over time, which creates sagging and deep wrinkles. A naturally low brow and deep forehead lines can also be caused by genetics. No matter the cause, a brow lift (also called forehead lift) can restore a smooth, youthful appearance and raise the eyebrows to a more youthful position.
  • Fat Grafting: Subcutaneous facial fat tends to atrophy with age. This loss of volume causes certain areas of the face to look gaunt or hollow. Fat grafting (also called fat transfer) corrects this by strategically transferring fat taken from the patient’s own body. This minimally invasive procedure creates a fuller, more youthful look when performed with facelift surgery.

Mini facelift and full facelift surgery can produce excellent results for patients seeking natural-looking facial rejuvenation. The best way to know which procedure would best suit your needs is through a consultation. Contact Dr. Eric Pugash today to schedule a personal consultation to explore your options.