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Home > Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Procedures > Short-scar Facelifts

Short-scar facelifts plastic surgery

To get answers to the most frequent questions about short-scar facelift cosmetic surgery, please select one of the links below:

If you’re considering a facelift....

There are many alternative techniques to reposition and tighten the skin and soft tissue structures of the face. One of the most significant recent developments in facial aesthetic surgery is the ability to limit the scarring that accompanies rejuvenation. These procedures are known by various names such as the "short-scar facelift," the "minimal incision facelift," the "S-lift," and the "Macs-lift."

Unfortunately, no aesthetic procedure can stop the aging process. What facelifts can do is to "turn back the clock" by improving the facial descent and deflation that occurs over time. Facelifts can be done alone or, more commonly, in combination with other facial aesthetic procedures. Dr. O'Connell frequently performs rejuvenation of the eyelids and limited laser resurfacing in combination with facelifting procedures and his article entitled "REfinements of Minimal Incision Rhytidectomy" was published in the European Journal of Plastic Surgery in 2003.

If you’re considering facial rejuvenation, this section will help provide a basic understanding of what a short-scar lift can and cannot achieve. Because facial aging affects each individual patient differently no amount of written information can replace a personal consultation with Dr. O'Connell. Most of our patients who are considering a facelift have two lengthy preoperative visits because of the numerous options that need be considered, the large amount of information that must be conveyed and the shared decision making that must precede a facelift.

The following information is strictly the opinion of Dr. O'Connell and pertains to the short-scar facelift and other facial rejuvenation procedures as performed by him.


What is a short-scar facelift?

A short-scar facelift (or "minimal-incision facelift") is a lift that repositions the skin and soft tissues of the face that have been affected by the aging process. The principle difference between a short-scar lift and other, "traditional" facelifts is that the short-scar lift features a significantly reduced scar burden. The scarring in the crease behind the ear and in the hairline behind the ear is largely or completely eliminated.

The procedure as performed by Dr. O'Connell is a multi-layer, multi-vector lift where the internal soft tissue structures (the so-called "SMAS" layer and malar fat pad) are adjusted separately from the overlying skin.

  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #1
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #2
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #3
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #4
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #5
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #6
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #7
  • View photos of a short-scar facelift - Patient #8


Why is it important to eliminate or minimize the scarring behind the ear?

Of the scarring associated with a facelift, often the scar in the crease behind the ear is the most objectionable to the patient. This is because scarring in this area has a higher tendency to widen and thicken compared to the scarring in other areas of the face.

When scars are placed in the hair behind the ear, there is almost always a permanent change in the hairline and the hair must be styled to provide camouflage for this area.

Finally, when a patient wears her hair in a pony-tail, french twist or styles it backward or "up" scarring in the crease behind the ear and in the area between the crease and the hairline can be quite visible – and the patient doesn't realize that others are noticing it.

By minimizing or eliminating the scarring in these areas, the most objectionable scarring of a facelift is reduced or eliminated.


Where are the incisions for a short-scar facelift?

The incisions (and ultimately the scars) for a short-scar lift begin in the temporal hair and extend downward, in front of the ear to the earlobe. Sometimes the incision can extend behind the earlobe or slightly behind the ear.

The choice of placing the scar in the crease just in front of the ear or within the ear itself is determined by individual patient anatomy.

An alternative incision is to place the incision along the temporal hairline, rather than within the temporal hair. In order to minimize the incision at the earlobe area and minimize distortion of the sideburn Dr. O'Connell sometimes also makes a horizontal "dart" incision just below the sideburn.

The typical incision for a short-scar lift eliminates scarring behind the ear and allows the patient to style her hair upward or in a pony-tail.

Short-scar facelift illustration 1

An alternative incision for the short-scar lift places the incision along the temporal hairline.

Short-scar facelift illustration 2

With a traditional facelift incisions extend upward in the crease behind the ear, then cross the hairless area and extend into, or in front of, the hair. This can produce notching or distortion of the hairline.

Traditional facelift illustration 1


Who are the best candidates for short-scar facelifts?

The short-scar lift is most applicable to patients in whom correction of mid-facial aging is the primary concern. While such patients are usually under the age of 60, Dr. O'Connell has performed short-scar lifts in patients substantially older than this in certain circumstances.

Like traditional lifts, the short-scar procedure is designed to lift the cheek, reduce the jowel, shorten the lower eyelid and soften the nasolabial fold. By restoring a more sinuous facial curve the tired, "gaunt" look of age is ameliorated as the more square aged face is shaped toward the more triangular shaped face of youth.

It's important for patients to understand that the short-scar lift is more limited in its ability to provide correction of loose and sagging skin and soft tissue in the neck in comparison to more traditional lifts. This is the principle disadvantage of the short-scar lift.


What type of anesthesia is used?

Dr. O'Connell performs most facial rejuvenation procedures, including short-scar lifts, under local anesthesia combined with monitored anesthesia care. Some patients refer to this as "twilight" type anesthesia. Gentle, short-acting medication is administered by an anesthesia professional to insure comfort for our patients.

While general anesthesia is used in rare circumstances, Dr. O'Connell believes that patients recover more quickly and that the risk of bleeding is lower than when general anesthesia is used.


Where will your short-scar facelift be performed?

Dr. O'Connell performs most facial rejuvenation procedures in our office surgical facility that has been accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities and licensed by the State of Connecticut. For older patients or those with pre-existing medical conditions the procedure is usually performed as an outpatient at a local hospital.


How long is the recovery period?

Some surgeons believe that the recovery period, including bruising and swelling, is shorter for short-scar lifts compared to more traditional lifts, however this has not been proven. Dr. O'Connell understands the need for our patients to return to their business and social schedules after about one week.

In 2003 Dr. O'Connell performed a short-scar lift that was broadcast on television – this patient returned to work on the sixth day following her surgery.


How do I prepare for my short-scar facelift?

Because facial rejuvenation must be individualized for each patient, Dr. O'Connell will evaluate your face, including your skin, and with your assistance, make recommendations as to the specific procedures that will most likely help you achieve your aesthetic goals. A detailed history of medical conditions that could affect your surgery will be obtained including use of medications, vitamins, etc.

You will be given detailed written instructions on how to prepare for your surgery including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and avoidance of certain vitamins and medications. If you smoke it’s especially important to stop (and also to avoid second-hand smoke) for at least six weeks prior to surgery because of the deleterious effect of smoking upon the healing process.


Are there any risks?

When a short-scar lift is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, complications are infrequent and usually minor.

While Dr. O'Connell makes every effort to minimize risk, individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their healing ability as well as in their reactions to surgery and anesthesia. Complications that may occur include hematoma (a collection of blood beneath the skin), infection, injury to the nerves that control the facial muscles, poor healing, reactions to anesthesia and other medications. Other complications can occur as well and it’s important to discuss these during your personal consultation with Dr. O'Connell. You can reduce your risks by closely following the advice of your surgeon concerning your pre- and post-operative care.

A careful consideration of all risks, alternatives and potential benefits is an important part of the pre-operative consultative process.


To contact Connecticut plastic surgeon Dr. Joseph B. O'Connell about any cosmetic surgery procedures, please fill out our contact form or call us at (203) 454-0044.

Plastic Surgery of Southern Connecticut
208 Post Road West • Westport, CT 06680
Phone: 203-454-0044 • Email: jbomd@aol.com

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