What Can You Correct with Each Type of Facelift? Albany, NY, Facial Plastic Surgeon Dr. Edwin Williams Explains

woman, face

With each different surgeon creating their own brands of facelifts, there can be a confusing variation of names for different types of facelifts. Albany, NY, facial plastic surgeon Dr. Edwin Williams explains that the term “facelift surgery” (technically known as a rhytidectomy) is used to refer to a wide variety of techniques meant to improve the lower third of the face and the neck.

During the early decades of the facelift, skin was simply pulled taut and the excess bits were cut off. Newer techniques more readily treat the loss of facial volume and the descent of fat pads in addition to skin laxity, and if you are considering a facelift, your plastic surgeon should address these aspects.

A “traditional” or full facelift by modern plastic surgeons today targets the following areas:

·         The sagging upper and lower neck skin

·         Vertical platysmal neck bands

·         Jowls (the skin from the lower cheeks that starts to droop down below the chin or jawline)

·         Nasolabial folds or laugh lines

·         Marionette lines


A traditional facelift includes an incision made within the hairline from the temples along the edge of the inner ear, behind the earlobe, and ending at the lower scalp to appropriately access the above areas. General anesthesia or a combination of local anesthesia and sedation may be administered.

It is common for the SMAS (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) layer of suspensory tissue ligaments to be repositioned and secured. The SMAS is a sheath of tissue between the skin and muscle, and precise repositioning can counteract aging- and gravity-related laxity.

For those patients who would like to address their jowls and nasolabial folds, but do not present with much skin laxity at the neck, a less invasive procedure known as a mini facelift or “S” lift may be performed with local anesthesia with sedation. At Dr. Williams’ practice, a mini facelift is often called a “Weekend Facelift” because of its short recovery period. A smaller, S-shaped incision is made at the earlobe and does not extend to the back of the ear.

If patients would like to receive a relatively less invasive procedure while still addressing skin laxity at the neck, the S-shaped incision may be extended along the back of the ear. This may be referred to as an extended “S” lift or Extended Weekend Facelift, which has a slightly longer surgery time and recovery period than the mini facelift.

Some patients may find that in addition to signs of aging of the lower face and neck, they may also experience flattening or descent of the cheek fat pads, leading to a deflated mid-face. For such patients, a mid-facelift may be the only procedure that can sufficiently correct this concern. While the three procedures listed above all correct the lower third of the face, the addition of a mid-facelift results in correction of the lower two-thirds of the face.

Dr. Williams employs the deep-plane technique when he is addressing the mid-face, lower face, and neck all at once. The deep-plane technique is a modification of the SMAS technique that also frees the cheek fat and some muscles from the bones. This modified technique allows for a more accurate correction of nasolabial folds and creates a youthful appearance without any tension.

A combination of sedation and general anesthesia is used during the deep-plane facelift, which takes longer to perform, and entails a longer recovery period. While the approach is more technically challenging (owing to the precision required in manipulating deep tissue without damaging the facial nerves), in the hands of an experienced facial plastic surgeon, it tends to deliver the best possible results.

It is important to note that no matter which type of surgery you choose, there is some risk of surgery and side effects. This is minimized by choosing an experienced plastic surgeon who specializes in facial procedures, and by following all pre- and post-surgical instructions they may provide you with.

Dr. Williams regularly sees both in- and out-of-town patients at his practice. If you would like to learn more about facelifts and determine how it might be customized to fit your aesthetic goals, you can request a virtual or in-person consultation with him by contacting the Williams Center Plastic Surgery Specialists online or by calling (800) 742-2797.