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

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on March 18, 2020 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

Procedure 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.

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.


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 Time

Mini facelift procedures are relatively simple can often be performed in 60 to 90 minutes. In contrast, full facelift surgery is more complex and requires 3-4 hours to fully complete.


Full facelifts provide more dramatic results than mini facelifts. A full facelift is able to address severe aging symptoms like significant skin sagging, severe neck laxity, deep wrinkles, skin folds, and full formed jowls.

The mini facelift is ideal to address light to moderate facial aging like fine lines, shallow wrinkles, and minor sagging of the face. This is why mini facelifts are ideal for individuals in their 30’s or 40’s who are just begging to develop facial aging symptoms.

Result Duration

Generally speaking, the more invasive the surgical technique the longer its results will last. This is very true for facelift surgery. The results of a mini facelift procedure typically last between 2-6 years. Full facelift results can last for 10 years or longer.


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.

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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