What Are the Different Types of Facelifts?

If you are dissatisfied with your facial volume, structure or the elasticity of your facial skin, it’s important to educate yourself about the available options. Your surgeon will be able to recommend a solution specific to your facial needs, but before your initial consultation, it helps to be familiar with the variety of procedures.

A successful facelift restores youthful features that have been lost as the face and neck begin to age. It’s the muscles and tissues overlying these muscles that begin to loosen and sag over time. We have outlined the different types of facelifts, both surgical and non-surgical, along with procedural details to help you make a more informed decision.

Facelift Before and After


Surgical facelift procedures are long-lasting and are the more permanent solution to saggy facial skin and the underlying tissues.

What is a Deep Plane Facelift?

The deep plane facelift is a long-term solution for those with intense facial sagging, providing a dramatic lift to the mid-face area for 10-15 years. This procedure is the comprehensive facelift solution, producing beautiful results while minimizing scarring, complications, and evidence of operation.

During the procedure, the surgeon enters the deep plane below the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS), which is the layer located beneath the skin near the muscles used for smiling and frowning. Releasing the SMAS layer, from both facial skin and the deep plane layer, allows the surgeon to reposition the SMAS layer to bring a more youthful look back to the face and neck.

The deep plane facelift recovery is about three to four weeks, and patients tend to experience bruising and swelling in the days immediately following the procedure. Another advantage of the procedure is that the deep plane facelift scars are relatively unnoticeable.

What is SMAS Facelift?

Like the deep plane facelift, the SMAS facelift is a deep-style facelift focused on repositioning the most important layer of facial muscle, tightening the skin in the middle of the face.

During this procedure, the surgeon removes excess skin and uses sutures to tighten the SMAS layer, which produces a younger look by reversing sagging in the jowls, cheeks and neck. The surgeon does not release the SMAS layer from the deep plane in this procedure, but results are still long-lasting.

SMAS facelift recovery times vary. Most are performed as outpatient procedures and the patient is able to go home the same day. Like the deep plane facelift, the swelling and bruising will typically recede in about two to three weeks’ time. Patients can slowly return to full activity and should be fully recovered in 3-4 weeks.

What is a Mini Facelift?

The mini facelift focuses on eliminating sagging in the cheeks and jowls, suiting those looking for a less invasive procedure with a quicker recovery time. The mini facelift scars are short and unnoticeable.

Always check with an experienced surgeon before choosing a specific procedure, but if you are experiencing moderate facial sagging, the mini facelift could be your best option.

What is the difference in a mini facelift vs full facelift? The difference in a mini and full facelift is that a full facelift focuses on tightening all facial skin and moving the underlying tissues back to where there used to be, giving the face back some of its volume, while the mini facelift focuses on the jowls and neck area specifically. To perform a mini facelift, the surgeon makes incisions in front of the ears, lifting the skin from the facial muscles and removing excess skin and fat. The overall result is a tighter facial appearance, and patients can return to work about one week to ten days after the procedure.

The short scar facelift recovery time is short, and scarring is minimal. The surgeon will make incisions just above the ears in the patient’s natural hairline and ear crease. The underlying fat is trimmed to form a natural and wrinkle free jawline, the SMAS is tightened as well, and excess skin is trimmed. The result of this procedure is smoothing of loose or sagging skin along the patient’s jawline.

What is a Mid Facelift?

The mid facelift is a deep-style lift, focusing on the central area of the face. Good candidates for mid facelifts are those without severe sagging in the neck and chin areas, as this procedure will reduce sagging in the cheeks and the eyelids.

Surgeons can use an endoscope to perform mid facelifts in order to directly view and operate on the layer of tissue directly above the facial skeleton, or they can use the common facelift technique. Mid facelifts utilize small incisions and typically feature a quick recovery time of one to two weeks.

What is a Cheek Lift?

Like the mid facelift, the cheek lift focuses on the lower eyelids and cheeks. Cheek lifts bring about a youthful appearance by making the cheeks fuller, removing puffiness from the lower eyelids, and smoothing nasal folds between the nose and mouth. Cheek lifts remove the unwanted tired appearance from the face with small incisions.

Swelling from the procedure can subside in a day or two, while overall cheek lift recovery takes 2-3 weeks. Scarring is moderate, but surgeons keep scars mostly hidden by hairlines and other facial features.


The following non-surgical solutions could be the right solution for you if you are experiencing early signs of aging and aren’t ready for a full facelift procedure. Non-surgical procedures tend to cost less than surgical procedures and have a shorter recovery time.

What is a Liquid Facelift?

A liquid facelift is a non-surgical procedure when the surgeon will inject a facial filler into the patient’s face, adding back volume and reducing wrinkles, creases and skin drooping.

A liquid facelift doesn’t last as long as other options, but it can be maintained with additional injections every year or two.

Understanding the differences between the many types of facelifts and treatment options is important when making an educated decision. Make sure to consult your facial surgeon for professional advice on which option is best for you. Communicate your facial needs and desires, and he / she will tell you the procedural process and what you can expect after the procedure.

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