Mini Facelift

Conveniently located to serve the areas of San Diego, CA

A mini facelift, or “short-scar” facelift, is a less invasive cosmetic surgical procedure that can address signs of aging in the face. Also known as a mini rhytidectomy, this treatment is a good choice for patients who want to avoid the extensive, more complex facial incisions and extended recovery time required in a standard facelift. Mini facelifts allow men and women to improve the appearance of their faces and look refreshed, while still maintaining a natural look. Additionally, mini facelifts are faster procedures that oftentimes do not involve the use of general anesthesia. 

America's Best Facelift Plastic Surgeons List by Newsweek 2023

A mini facelift from Dr. Steven R. Cohen can address facial tissue sagging and smooth wrinkles and lines to provide you with renewed confidence in your facial aesthetics. As an internationally renowned craniofacial surgeon, author, inventor, and artist, Dr. Cohen specializes in tailored surgical procedures to suit the needs of every patient. At his state-of-the-art Faces+ practice, Dr. Cohen offers residents of San Diego, La Jolla, and farther afield the opportunity to rediscover their youthful looks and enhance their natural beauty. Contact us today at (858) 453-7224 to find out more about the facial rejuvenation services he offers, and schedule your personal consultation.

Before and After Photos

Aging in the Face

Signs of Facial Aging

Skin aging is a complex biological process influenced by a combination of intrinsic factors such as genetics, metabolism, and hormones, and extrinsic factors such as UV exposure, pollution, and chemicals.(1) Aging affects everyone differently, but a commonality that is experienced by all is the effect that time has on the skin. Over the years, our skin’s overall elasticity and volume decreases, which can cause wrinkles and lines to appear, and facial tissues to sag. Without regular non-surgical procedures such as fillers, and more permanent surgical intervention, there is very little that can be done to impede these changes. When it comes to facial surgeries to address these problems, there are a number of options on the table for patients, two of which are the rhytidectomy and the mini rhytidectomy. 

Areas of the Face

The face can be mapped and split into specific areas for aesthetic purposes. It can be broadly categorized into three sections:

Upper Face – The upper third, or “top” third of the face is inclusive of the lower eyelids, eyes, and upper eyelids and extends to the hairline and around to the temples. (2) Common signs of aging that can appear in this area are horizontal lines of expression, or brow creases, which can be visible when we raise our eyebrows. These lines can become entrenched over time and are more noticeable as we grow older.  Other common issues that arise from aging in this area include glabellar lines (vertical and horizontal lines between the eyebrows),  sagging in the eyelids, and hollowing under the eyes. 

Mid Face – The middle portion of the face starts at the lower eyelids and extends down to just above the upper lip. Frontally, it includes the nose and cheeks, and at either side of the face, the ears. Areas of the midface are prone to loss of volume as we age, which can cause a “hollowed” appearance and midface skin laxity. Wrinkles can also appear in the form of bunny lines on the nose, and nasolabial folds (the folds of skin that extend from the nose to the corners of the mouth) can become more prominent.

Lower Face – The lower face includes the lower cheeks, the lips, the jawline and the chin. The focal point of the lower face is the mouth. Signs of aging in this area include skin sagging in the jowls, thinner lips, and lip-adjacent wrinkling (sometimes referred to as lipstick lines).

The main differences between a facelift and a mini facelift are the specific areas of the face each procedure addresses. 

Mini Facelift vs. Facelift

A rhytidectomy is just one of the cosmetic procedures available to patients to fight the signs of facial aging. It repositions soft tissues in all three major areas of the face that have descended over time and reduces the amount of excess skin present. (3) The superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) is a complex system of muscles and tissues in the face that is finely and expertly adjusted during a facelift. Advances in cosmetic plastic surgery now mean more specificity when it comes to addressing facial aging. While the standard facelift procedure addresses the upper face, midface, and full neck, typically, a mini facelift only addresses the lower half of the face. This makes the mini facelift an excellent solution for patients that want to improve the appearance of jowls, nasolabial lines, and sagging skin below the cheekbones.

Since patients now have more surgical options available to them, some do not want to take such drastic measures as the full facelift, and prefer to target specific concerns.(4) So, if you want a more natural look with a procedure that addresses the lower and midface only, a mini facelift may be the answer! Alongside the advantages of more targeted treatment, the mini facelift offers a number of other benefits.

Benefits of a Mini Facelift

Patients may benefit in the following ways from a mini facelift:

  • Reduces signs of aging in the lower half of the face
  • Lifts and smooths facial tissues
  • Smaller, less noticeable incisions
  • Can be performed without general anesthesia
  • Convenient outpatient procedure 
  • Shorter recovery period than a standard facelift

A mini facelift is particularly effective in patients with deep nasolabial folds and sagging lower facial structures, but who don’t feel the need to address the upper areas of the face.

Candidates for a Mini Facelift

Although there are no age restrictions for adults who want a mini facelift, many patients who choose this type of surgery are between the ages of 40 and 60. The advantage of receiving a mini facelift at a younger age is that it can act as a preemptive procedure that may prevent the need for further facial surgery later in life. Addressing sagging in the jowls and general facial skin sagging early on, may mean you don’t need a full facelift further down the line!

Although it is an effective surgery, a mini facelift may not be suitable for every patient who wants to address facial signs of aging. You may want to consider a different facial rejuvenation procedure if you have:

  • Any condition that could result in poor wound healing
  • Any condition that causes excessive bleeding
  • Unrealistic expectations of what a mini facelift can achieve

If you have ptosis of the upper eyelids in addition to sagging tissue in the lower face and upper neck, you may choose to combine your mini facelift with a blepharoplasty, or eyelid lift.

Personal Consultation

Dr. Cohen understands the subtleties of beauty as an art form. He uses his extensive knowledge of facial anatomy and years of surgical expertise to provide the best options for his patients. During your initial consultation, you can speak to him about your aesthetic concerns and he will devise the best course of action for your circumstances. You may be asked to provide a brief medical history, and a history of any previous facial surgeries. He will examine your facial structures and note the skin’s laxity and interaction with the bony structures underneath. 

After he has completed a physical examination of the tissues in your face and neck, he will recommend the facelift procedure that will best address the issues you have and schedule your procedure accordingly. Patients for whom the mini facelift isn’t the best fit may be offered a standard Facelift, California Facelift or a Neck Lift to address their specific aesthetic concerns.

Book your individual facelift consultation now by contacting us online or by calling Dr. Cohen’s San Diego office at (858) 453-7224.

Getting a Mini Facelift

Before your Mini Facelift

Please take the following preparatory steps before your mini facelift:

  • Avoid aspirin and NSAID drugs for at least 2 weeks beforehand
  • Quit smoking for at least a month before your procedure
  • File your prescription medication requests and pick them up before the procedure

The Mini Facelift Procedure

Dr. Cohen performs mini facelift procedures on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia or “twilight anesthesia” (a form of sedation), which means you will be ready to return home the same day. He makes small incisions around the ear that extend into the hairline. Positioning these openings in just the right places, he can reduce skin sagging in the mid- and lower face, tighten the jowls, and smooth out facial wrinkles. A mini facelift procedure is generally considerably shorter than a standard rhytidectomy, and is usually completed within two hours.

Find out about the benefits of the Faces+ Concierge service here.

After Your Mini Facelift

In the days immediately following your mini facelift, you may experience swelling and bruising, which should resolve within a few weeks. As part of your aftercare plan, Dr. Cohen will prescribe pain medication for you to take in this period to alleviate any post-surgical discomfort you may be experiencing. During your period of convalescence, you may need to stay home for the first few days, however, many patients with non-strenuous jobs find they can return to work soon after their surgery. Please avoid physically demanding activities for at least three weeks to allow your wounds to heal well.


As all patients’ facial surgical requirements are different, the cost of a mini facelift procedure will vary. You can discuss your treatment plan, including the cost of your mini facelift, with Dr. Cohen at your personal consultation.

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Does a mini facelift last as long as a facelift?

The results of a mini facelift can last for up to 10 years, compared to around 15 years with a standard facelift. However, many patients prefer the mini facelift because it is a shorter procedure that usually doesn’t need general anesthesia. The mini facelift also has a shorter recovery period after surgery.

Is a mini facelift performed under general anesthesia?

A mini facelift is an outpatient procedure. In many cases, there is no need for general anesthesia in a mini facelift procedure. In suitable patients, local anesthesia or sedation can be used.

What kind of scars does a person get from a mini facelift?

Scars from a mini facelift procedure are minimal, and well-disguised. Traditional incisions are made along the natural line between the side of the face and the ear and near the temples. Most scarring from a mini facelift will fade over time.


  1. Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 308–319. 
  2. Nguyen, J., & Duong, H. (2020). Anatomy, Head and Neck, Face. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. 
  3. Yang, A. J., & Hohman, M. H. (2021). Rhytidectomy. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing.
  4. Duminy, F., Hudson, D. The Mini Rhytidectomy. Aesth. Plast. Surg. 21, 280–284 (1997).