The mini lift, a cheek-and-neck enhancement, is the most common facial plastic surgery Dr. Brent J. Smith performs in his Denver office. When patients come in concerned with the common indicators of premature facial aging, a mini lift is usually our baseline surgical recommendation.
Why? Because it works! A mini lift on the lower half of the face adds new support and youthful fullness where most people have lost it — around the cheek, jaw and neck areas. “Skin just wraps whatever it surrounds and it doesn’t like to be under tension,” Dr. Smith says. “With the mini lift we are tightening the tissues underneath the skin so it will re-drape naturally for a more youthful appearance.”
When adding a fresh foundation to the bottom half of the face, where the effects of gravity show up most, the whole face feels the effect. But often that’s just the start. At Smith Cosmetic Surgery & Medical Aesthetic Center, we like to think of cheek-and-neck surgery as a beautiful baseline. It works exceptionally well all on its own, giving the face a younger appearance for years to come. But it’s also ground zero for making complementary surgical enhancements while you’re at it. We’ll discuss those more below.
Mini lift reverses the “gravity effect”
The mini lift is Dr. Smith’s foundational cosmetic plastic surgery procedure because it has the biggest impact on those aging precursors that you can’t control, namely gravity. Humans must walk on the planet, and gravitational force naturally holds us down. But over time it also pulls loosening skin down with it. “We can’t control that,” Dr. Smith says. “But the No. 1 thing that people do when they come in the office is put their hands on their cheeks and pull up to show me what they want.”
People don’t really want that “pulled” or surgical look, but they do want to reverse gravity’s mark and other signs of aging with a mini lift. “Tissues in the face lose tone, thin out a little bit, and don’t have the support they need,” Dr. Smith explains. “When the skin doesn’t have support, fat pockets will start to show where they use to be held back by a firm membrane.” That’s what a cheek-and-neck lift can correct — the look of lost tone in aged skin.
Facing more than just gravity
While gravity can be a big drag on the face, so can other environmental factors, such as exposure to sun, dry climates and pollution. In Colorado, for example, we have a tough trio for skin: tons of sun, high-desert dryness and oxygen-depleted altitude. It’s no wonder the mini lift is so highly requested.
But genetics play a big part, too. Just like gravity is untouchable, you can’t control who your parents are. What your mom’s skin looks like is probably a strong indicator of what’s to come for you. Of course, lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking alcohol also come with their own major drawbacks, namely a greater chance of wrinkling and discoloration of the face.
We all face gravity. But we’re wildly different when it comes to our genetic makeup, environmental exposure and lifestyles. So during every complementary consultation Dr. Smith walks each patient through cosmetic surgery options designed to address each unique facial structure, skin type, background and set of goals.
Enhancements to complement the mini lift
We’ve mentioned that the mini lift is a foundational procedure at Smith Cosmetic Surgery & Medical Aesthetic Center. But what enhancements can address other issues during the same surgery? The answer…several.
“Patients appreciate that they can get all of the procedures done at once,” Dr. Smith says. “There’s never a convenient time to have surgery, and many of us don’t have weeks to recover, so it’s nice to take care of a lot of different things at once.”
Dr. Smith creates and customizes a surgical plan for every patient. Starting with the mini lift, which alters the foundational tissues underneath the skin, he commonly performs as many as three additional procedures to create an individualized outcome for each patient. Here are three of the most common enhancements:
Fat transfer: Instead of using a temporary nonsurgical filler to enhance volume loss in the apple of the cheek, for example, a patient’s natural fat is transferred during the mini lift to more permanently fill in hollow areas. When there is fullness in the neck, Dr. Smith can transfer fat from that area; otherwise it’s removed through a quick prick in the lower stomach, a common place for extra fat. Not only does fat grafting or liposculpturing restore volume naturally, it also leverages the patient’s own accepted fat for a long-term “stem cell” effect in the face.
Upper eyelifts: Mini facelifts work from the neck up to create new structural support for the face. Often this youthful base enhances the eyes enough without further surgical work. But sometimes patients have a very droopy brow, puffiness around the eyes or hooding of the eyelids. In these cases, Dr. Smith can perform a brow or eyelid lift in conjunction with the cheek-and-neck lift.
CO2 laser treatment: A treatment often scheduled on its own in the medical aesthetic side of our practice, this powerful fractional laser can be applied during the mini lift to help subtract 10 years from weathered skin. “It takes care of sun damage, brown spots and even precancerous cells,” says Dr. Smith. “It’s the icing on the cake, and a beautiful complement to cheek-and-neck surgery.”