Older woman touching her face and smiling (model)

If you’re considering a facelift and have spent much time doing online research, you might be a bit overwhelmed by the different types of facelifts. Many of the techniques, such as the deep-plane or SMAS facelifts, are designed for people with significant sagging in the lower portion of the face. For people looking for a less invasive approach, the S-Lift technique we use is an excellent solution.

But is an S-Lift the same as a mini facelift? Ask 10 plastic surgeons that question, and you’ll get as many different answers. At our Des Moines practice, we consider the S-Lift a type of mini facelift because it uses shorter incisions and is less invasive than a traditional facelift. That means shorter recovery time and fewer risks of complications.

What Is a Mini Facelift?

A simple answer to this question is that a mini facelift is a modified version of a full facelift. A mini facelift is sometimes called a “ponytail lift,” a “weekend lift,” and other names that describe a less invasive version of a full facelift that involves shorter recovery times. This is also true of the S-Lift.

People with mild to moderate sagging skin on the lower face and neck can benefit from an S-Lift. Its name refers to the shape of the narrow incisions the surgeon makes within the hairline and inside the ear. It’s performed using a local anesthetic in an office-based surgical suite and typically takes about 2 hours. You can learn more about the details of the procedure in our related blog post.

What Are the Benefits of an S-Lift?

The primary benefits of an S-Lift include the following:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Better lifting and contouring than injectables
  • Long-lasting results
  • Minimal pain

Good candidates for an S-Lift may have used fillers, BOTOX® Cosmetic injections, or other nonsurgical treatments in the past to address concerns about jowls, volume loss, and loose skin in the lower face and neck. But now they find they need surgical intervention to achieve their goals. S-Lift patients are usually a bit younger than women and men who undergo full facelifts.

Will the Results of an S-Lift Look Natural?

A mini facelift technique such as the S-Lift shares many similarities with traditional facelifts. This includes lifting and elevating the tissue and muscle layer that supports the skin, called the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system). During an S-Lift, our facial plastic surgeons tighten loose skin, remove excess skin, and alter the underlying muscle. This technique avoids stretching the skin too tight, which can produce a “windswept” look.

What’s Recovery Like Compared to a Full Facelift?

The recovery following a full facelift—which our surgeons typically combine with a neck lift—is longer than what’s needed after an S-Lift. Most full facelift patients need to take at least 10 days off from work and social activities. S-Lift patients, on the other hand, often return to work within 5 to 7 days. Because a full facelift incision extends from the ear to the hairline, it’s more invasive, and patients experience more swelling and bruising than those who undergo an S-Lift.

Our surgeons meticulously make incisions for both techniques, so the resulting scars are well-concealed, as you can see in our patients’ before and after photos.

When an S-Lift Isn’t Enough

An S-Lift creates more youthful contours along the jawline and tightens loose neck skin, but some patients also want to minimize lines and wrinkles around the eyes or address sagging eyelids. Neither a mini facelift nor a full facelift can improve the appearance of the upper portion of the face. Nonsurgical treatments, such as BOTOX and JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® XC filler, are an option for the right patients. Or it may be best to undergo upper or lower eyelid surgery or a brow lift for a full facial rejuvenation.

Does an S-Lift Cost Less Than a Full Facelift?

Mini facelifts, in general, cost less than full facelifts. As with most facial plastic surgery procedures, the cost varies depending on the individual patient’s needs, the surgeon’s training and experience, and the specific technique used during the procedure. A more invasive facelift, such as a deep plane facelift, may cost $15,000 or more (average costs as reported in RealSelf). A SMAS lift often costs between $10,000 and $15,000. The cost of a mini facelift, such as the S-Lift, is less than full facelift procedures.

Is an S-Lift Right for You?

We love the S-Lift and believe it can be the best choice for many people considering facelift surgery at our practice. If you want to learn more about the technique and whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure, request a consultation with one of our board-certified facial plastic surgeons by using the online form or call us at (515) 277-5555 to schedule an appointment.

3 Responses to Is an S-Lift the Same as a Mini Facelift?

    • bbk-admin says:

      SMAS and S-lift refer to the names of the procedure. The difference is in the technique, but the outcome is essentially the same. Our surgeons perform the S-lift. During consultation and assessment, the surgeon will explain all options and determine which procedure is right for you! Please contact the practice at (515) 277-5555 to schedule a consultation. Thanks.

  • Brenton Koch MD says:

    The S in S Lift stands for short incision. The way Facelifts were done in the past was with long sweeping incisions sometimes above the temples and at times under the chin. Our S lift is a deep plane facelift which is specifically directed to correct sagging neck bands, creases, skin redundancy as well as jowls and facial folds. A SMAS lift is not deep plane and the deep plane lift is more effective and provides a more natural looking and longer lasting result. Thanks for your inquiry.

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