Ask the Plastic Surgeons


By Wendell Smoot, MD, Reza Sadrian, MD, Carol Hollan, MD and John Smoot, MD

Q. I’ve seen campaigns for mini facelifts that promote a quick recovery time and instant results. Can you define what the difference is between a full facelift and a mini or heavily advertised “lifestyle” lift?

A. There is a distinct difference between a full facelift (which often includes a neck lift) and a mini facelift. A mini facelift is conducted under local sedation and takes from two to two-and-a-half hours to complete. A full facelift can take up to four hours but includes tightening of the under layers of the skin that results in a longer-lasting result, particularly when there is an abundant amount of skin that lacks elasticity. It is important to mention that in most mini facelift ad campaigns, it is not revealed that before and after photos of patients do not reflect additional procedures that have been performed to enhance the facial appearance, such as a neck lift or facial tightening. Our best advice is to read the fine print very carefully before considering a facelift procedure.

That is not to say that a mini facelift is not a suitable option. In our office, we have developed a “Freshlift” which is not as invasive as a full facelift, but that provides our patients with a renewed, rested appearance. We recommend this procedure when patients are not ready for a full facelift nor when we feel a full facelift is necessary. We see a lot of patients in the “Baby Boomer” age range that are good candidates for this procedure. It is critical to discuss your desired outcome with your physician in order to determine which procedure is suitable for you. If you have abundant skin that needs tightening due to sun damage, ageing and stress, a full facelift with an optional neck lift, may be a better option.

In technical terms, a Rhytidectomy (facelift) is one of the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures in the head and neck. A full facelift can tighten the muscles of the face and neck, revealing more youthful contours and a younger, more alert appearance. More comprehensive than other procedures such as a browlift, a facelift can improve the appearance of sagging jowls, double chin, and lessens wrinkles in the face. Incisions for a traditional full facelift are made just inside the hairline above each ear, down in front of the ear, and back up into the hairline. The surgeon then lifts and tightens the facial muscles, trims any excess fat and skin, and closes the incisions.

The Freshlift (or mini facelift) is a less invasive procedure referred to as a short scar facelift that requires much smaller incisions than a full facelift. An ideal candidate for this procedure would be someone in their forties or fifties who is not quite ready for a full face and neck lift, but is starting to notice some sagging in the jowl area. Along with the advantage of a shorter scar, this surgery usually has a shorter recovery compared to a full facelift.

John Smoot, MD, is Chief of Plastic Surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla, and Wendell Smoot, MD, has been voted by his peers as Top Doctor in San Diego for five consecutive years. Carol Hollan, MD, is San Diego’s first female board-certified plastic surgeon while Reza Sadrian, MD, is one of very few plastic surgeons dually certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as oral and maxillofacial surgery. The practice has over 20 years of tenure in the industry and each is individually board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Any of the physicians can provide consultations on plastic surgery procedures and/or laser and skincare treatments at their Laser and Skincare Center and can be reached at their offices on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla in the Ximed Medical Building by calling (858) 587-9850 or via the web at