Full Facelift vs. Mini Face Lift: What’s the Difference?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on October 21, 2022 2 Comments

facelift vs mini facelift

Facelift surgery is the most effective plastic surgery procedures for treating severe facial aging symptoms like severe wrinkling and sagging of skin. There are many different types of facelift techniques, each of which differ in terms of invasiveness and the results they provide.

In this blog post we will compare two of the most popular forms of facelift procedures: Full Facelift and Mini Facelift.

Quick Comparison Table:

Full Facelift Mini Facelift
Other Names Traditional Facelift, Lower Facelift, Rhytidectomy Weekend Lift, Mini Lift
Invasiveness High Low to Moderate
Anesthesia General Anesthesia or Local Anesthesia w/ sedation Local anesthesia w/ or w/o sedation
Procedure Time 3-4 hours 60 – 90 minutes
Symptoms Addressed Moderate to Severe Aging Minor Aging
Result Duration 10-15 years 2-6 years
Cost $7,000 – $15,000 $3,500 – $6,500
Downtime 2-3 weeks 1 week

What is a Full Facelift? 

A full facelift is primarily a corrective procedure. It is recommended for patients with moderate to advanced signs of aging. Also known as a traditional facelift, the full facelift addresses sagging cheeks and the midface region, as well as the lower face, jowls and jawline, and in some cases, the neck.

What is a Mini Facelift?

The mini facelift means slightly different things to different surgeons, but in general, is a less invasive version of the full facelift. Primarily a preventative treatment, the mini facelift tightens skin and underlying muscle, albeit less aggressively than a full facelift does. Because it only addresses the lower face, a mini facelift uses fewer or shorter incisions than a full facelift.

It’s ideal for younger patients with mild to moderate signs of aging, or for patients who have had a facelift in the past and are seeking a less invasive touch-up procedure.

Technique Differences

Full Facelift: A full facelift (or traditional facelift) makes the face tighter and smoother by surgically removing excess skin, tightening lax muscles, and re-draping the skin over the face and neck. Full facelift techniques begin with the creation of a surgical incision around the ears and extending into the hairline in front and behind the ears. Additionally, an incision may be made under your chin to correct bands in the front of the neck. The skin is carefully separated from the underlying facial muscles. Excess fat is removed and the muscles are tightened. The skin is then pulled up and back while excess skin is trimmed and the wounds are closed with sutures.

Mini Facelift: A mini facelift (sometimes called a weekend lift or a mini lift) is a technique that uses shorter incisions than a traditional facelift technique. During the procedure, small incisions are made under around the ear, but do not extend into the hair in front or behind the ear. Less extensive dissection is performed under the skin. More limited muscle tightening can be performed as well as limited skin removal. This allows the surgeon to perform modest tightening on the face and jawline, but less dramatic improvement in neck laxity. For this reason, mini facelifts are often better suited for those with minimal neck laxity.


Mini Facelift: The mini facelift is ideal for younger patients who have just begun to notice loose or sagging skin in the lower face. Because it does not address the mid-face, it’s best for patients who aren’t concerned about hollow cheeks or mid-face skin sag.

Full Facelift: A full facelift is typically performed on older patients or those experiencing moderate to advanced sagging in the cheeks and nasolabial folds, marionette lines or sagging jowls, and laxity in the jawline and neck area.

Areas Treated

Mini Facelift: A mini facelift does not address the upper or mid face. It only addresses the lower face and in some cases, the neck.

Full Facelift: A traditional facelift addresses laxity in the neck, lower face and mid-face for more dramatic results.

Level of Invasiveness

Full facelift procedures are more invasive than mini facelift procedures. A full facelift requires longer incisions in order to allow surgeons to perform the technique. In contrast, a mini lift is performed through smaller (shorter) incisions.


Mini Facelift: A mini facelift may vary slightly from one surgeon to the other, but most require only one incision, placed around the ears. Even if multiple incisions are used, these are typically shorter than the incisions required of a full facelift.

Full Facelift: A traditional facelift makes use of incisions in front of and behind the ears. Some full face lifts include an incision underneath the chin to address the neck area.


Full facelift procedures may require the patient to go under general anesthesia but can also be performed with local anesthesia and twilight sedation. Mini Facelifts can be performed using the combination of a local anesthetic with or without sedation. Compared to general anesthesia, local anesthesia with sedation is less costly and less likely to cause unwanted side effects like nausea or vomiting.

Procedure Duration

Mini Facelift: Although the duration of your facelift procedure will vary depending on the technique used and the results you hope to achieve, a mini facelift typically takes 2 hours.

Full Facelift: A full facelift can be completed in as little as 2.5 hours, but may take longer. If your facelift addresses the neck area, if you’ve opted for skin resurfacing treatments, or if you’re having any other work completed while anesthetized, the procedure may more than 5 hours.


Mini Facelift: A mini facelift subtly lifts the muscles of the neck and lower face and tightens skin. Your surgeon may also remove fat or sculpt the lower face using dermal filler. Mini facelifts result in a tighter, more defined neck and jawline for an overall more youthful appearance.

Full Facelift: A full facelift tightens the musculature and skin of the entire face, jawline and neck. As with a mini facelift, your surgeon might also remove fat or use dermal filler to accentuate the jawline or cheekbones. Results of a full facelift are far more dramatic than a mini, as the muscle and skin is more aggressively pulled and the whole face is treated.

Result Duration

The results of facelift surgery differ for everyone and depend on multiple factors. Results last longest in those who have good skin elasticity at the time of surgery, which is dependent on age and genetics.

Taking care of your general health and incorporating an anti-aging skin care routine can also help results last longer. This includes maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and staying hydrated.

The results of both a mini and full facelift are expected to last between 10-15 years, as no cosmetic procedure can stop the natural aging process.


Compared to full facelift surgery, mini facelifts are less expensive since they take less time to perform, are less complex, and do not require general anesthesia. Thus, mini facelift patients are able to save on surgeon fees and facility costs. The total cost of a mini facelift ranges from $3,500 to $6,500 while a full facelift procedure can range between $7,000 to $15,000.


Full facelift surgery requires more downtime (recovery time) compared to mini facelifts, since the technique is more invasive. While traditional facelift patients may need 2-3 weeks to fully recover, mini facelifts only require 7 days. In fact, mini-lifts are often called “weekend facelifts” as some patients can undergo the procedure on Friday and get back to normal daily activities by Monday. For both procedures, sutures are typically removed 6-7 days after surgery.


Both a mini and full facelift are performed under anesthesia (local, twilight, or general), and post-surgical pain can be reduced with medication. It’s possible that because a full facelift is more aggressive and requires a longer recovery time, that patients may experience more discomfort. Pain, however, is highly dependent on the tolerance of the individual.


Any surgical procedure entails risk. Common risks of both mini and full facelift surgery include unexpected swelling, bruising, bleeding, infection, visible scarring, numbness or potential deformity.

These risks are minimized when the patient is in excellent health and closely follows the surgeon’s post-operative advice. Choosing a well-vetted, skilled and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon also mitigates these risks.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

2 Responses to “Full Facelift vs. Mini Face Lift: What’s the Difference?”

  1. Avatar Nadia says:

    I would like a mini facelift and laser treatment for better skin. Is it possible to have both done and go back to work in 15 to 20 days? I am also interested in smartlipo around the flank/lower back area.
    If this is common I would like to schedule an appointment and have this done as soon as possible.
    I am currently stationed in Iraq and will be home for 30 days in August. Please let me know if this is doable for I am anxious to have some work done before being deployed again for 6 months.

    Thank You,


  2. WD Staff WD Staff says:

    Hi Nadia,

    It may be possible to return to work 15 to 20 days post-procedure, however it really depends on how physical the job is. I forwarded this message to our cosmetic team and a consultant will send you an email with more information and to set you up with an appointment.

    Thanks again,
    WD Staff

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