Mini Facelift? Midface Lift? Thread Lift? What’s the Difference?

Learn more about your facelift options.

Many of the patients at my Sacramento and Roseville practices who are considering facial plastic surgery say that online research about facelifts can be confusing. One of the main reasons is because it can be difficult to distinguish between the facelift terms and techniques that produce legitimate, long-lasting results — and those that are really not facelifts at all.

Let’s sort out the terms plastic surgeons use when discussing surgical facelifts and how they differ from minimally invasive procedures. The latter are generally are less costly and have little downtime, but create only short-term results. Here are 3 of the most popular facelift terms:

  • SMAS facelift: You’ve probably seen the term SMAS several times if you’ve spent any time researching facelifts. SMAS is short for superficial musculoaponeurotic system, the layer of tissue and muscle supporting the skin, which the plastic surgeon repositions in any good facelift procedure. This technique, when performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, avoids the “windswept” look that can occur if a surgeon simply pulls the patient’s skin tight without lifting the SMAS layer.
  • Short Scar/Mini Facelift: Not all patients need or want the comprehensive results of a SMAS facelift, and I do recommend mini facelifts for certain patients. But the development of advanced minimally invasive options, such as BOTOX® Cosmetic, dermal fillers, and lasers, has reduced the number of mini facelifts I perform.
  • Midface Lift: A midface lift addresses aesthetic concerns about the cheeks and areas below the eyes. Traditional facelift techniques (such as a SMAS procedure) improve the appearance of the lower one-third of the face, such as jowls and the jawline. A midface lift elevates sagging tissue, and it may include replacing volume that is often lost in this area as we age.

I routinely use I fat transfer for my facelift patients, as well, because the majority of them benefit from this technique.

In the past 15 years, the popularity of minimally invasive facial rejuvenation techniques has increased dramatically. Now let’s take a quick look at these techniques, which are sometimes marketed as “weekend” or “lifestyle” lifts, and emphasize the convenience of the procedure.

  • Thread Lift: The thread lift uses barbed sutures to lift sagging tissue, a technique developed in the late 1990s. Research shows, however, that this procedure provides short-term results, and it can lead to complications and discomfort for the patient.
  • Silhouette InstaLift™: Similar to the thread lift, the InstaLift re-contours the face with a minimally invasive technique that relies on absorbable sutures to reposition and elevate the skin. Again, the results are short-lived, and this procedure shouldn’t be considered a facelift alternative.

Liquid Facelift: The phrase “liquid facelift” denotes a combination of aesthetic injectable treatments, such as BOTOX and fillers, that work together to create a “lifted” appearance. Combining injectables in this way can be effective for patients who are not ready for facial plastic surgery.

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