Expert Doctor


Larry Nichter, MD

Newport Beach, CA


LiteLift℠ is a modified SMAS (deep facial tissues and muscles) facelift technique which can improve signs of aging through the lower face, jawline and neck. Some doctors also refer to LiteLift as a short-scar facelift or a mini-facelift procedure. However, it is not a superficial skin lift like other mini-facelifts since it addresses the underlying SMAS muscle, tissue and skin. LiteLift provides a natural looking lift with significantly less scarring and recovery time than a traditional facelift. LiteLift can provide significant results while placing small incisions within the hairline, and behind the earlobe, to hide scaring. LiteLift also uses a vertical re-draping technique to provide an upward directional lift with natural results while avoiding a pulled or overdone appearance.

Am I a Good Candidate for LiteLift℠?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for LiteLift is:

  • Any patient in good health experiencing visible effects of aging on the face
  • Someone who wants to tighten mild to moderate loose skin around the neck and lower face while reducing wrinkles or excess fullness
  • Any patient who wants to maintain their youth without letting others know they had a cosmetic procedure thanks to hidden scars
  • A person who wants a significant change but cannot afford the time off work required for a traditional facelift
  • Patients in their late 30s, to their 70s or 80s, who have sagging skin but still have some skin elasticity
  • Any patient who wants an easier, and minimally invasive cosmetic surgery, to gain lifted skin at a lower cost than a traditional facelift

Patients who are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES include:

  • Smokers since smoking can hinder the recovery process
  • Patients who wants a more traditional horizontal facelift
  • Patients with medical issues such as uncontrolled high blood pressure and heart problems
  • Those with minimal to mild facial aging that make them a better candidate for Botox or fillers

How is LiteLift℠ Performed?

Once it is determined that a patient is a good candidate for the procedure, LiteLift is performed in an office setting. The treatment only takes about two hours and can be performed with local anesthesia and oral sedation. The patient will be awake, or may snooze through much of the procedure, as the face will have no feeling of pain after local anesthesia. IV sedation or a light general anesthesia is available if desired.

The incisions vary depending on the patient’s goals, whether the patient is male or female, how they wear their hair, their facial structure and the technique of the surgeon. All incisions are well hidden and approximately 40% shorter than the incisions made for a traditional facelift. The surgeon may make small incisions within the ear, around the earlobe and/or along the sideburns. An additional incision may be made under the chin in the natural skin fold to allow for fat removal and a tightening of the platysma or neck muscle. The SMAS (Superficial Muscular Aponeurotic System) is a thin, but strong, layer of fascial supporting tissue which covers and surrounds the deeper facial tissues and structures. The SMAS is also connected to the superficial muscle covering the lower face that is near the jawline and the neck region (this includes the fat pads and the cheeks). The surgeon lifts this layer, vertically and as a unit, to elevate the soft tissues and structures. The SMAS layer is folded superiorly and attached to it with permanent sutures. This portion of the surgery is called a SMAS plication. If the patient has a little bit of excess skin, a redundant portion can be removed prior to reattaching. Some surgeons place a temporary drainage tube, within the incision, to remove excess fluids for a few days after surgery. Scarring is usually minimal and they are hidden within the hairline, and in the ear crease, until they become lighter over time.

Alternative Procedures

Alternative procedures may include a “skin only” facelift or a traditional SMAS facelift. A “skin only” facelift will only tighten the skin at a superficial level and may leave an unnatural stretched look without the longevity of LiteLift, SMAS or a traditional facelift. A SMAS facelift tighten the deeper muscle layers while providing dramatic long-lasting results. However, the procedure takes longer and requires general anesthesia. Plus, the incisions are longer and more visible so it requires a lengthier recovery time than a LiteLift.

Combined with Other Procedures

LiteLift can also be performed in a surgical facility or hospital under general anesthesia, if the patient wants to have other cosmetic surgeries at the same time. LiteLift can be combined with blepharoplasty, temple/brow lift, mid-facelift and liposuction of the neck and jawline as well as peels and laser treatment. Other patients choose to have fat grafting with dermal fillers, in conjunction with LiteLift, to add fullness into the cheeks and periorbital region.

What is the Cost of LiteLift℠?

The cost of LiteLift is around $6500-$12,500. The cost can vary according to the geographic location of the office, the amount of work being done and the type of anesthesia used. Patients who choose to have general anesthesia will pay a much higher cost for the facility fee and anesthesiologist fee. Furthermore, the cost will be greater if other cosmetic procedures are done in conjunction with LiteLift.

Recovery and Downtime

The RECOVERY from LiteLift is generally quicker than a traditional facelift. While LiteLift is an outpatient procedure, certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes should be closely monitored after surgery. Patients with these conditions might rarely require a short hospital stay.

After LiteLift, patients can expect some discomfort which can be managed with pain medications. Bruising, swelling and discoloration of the skin are also common but, since the incisions are fewer and smaller, there is less bruising, swelling and downtime for most patients. Swelling generally dissipates after 48 hours and bruising usually takes about two weeks before it fades completely. Keeping the head elevated can help to minimize swelling and speed recovery. Numbness of the facial skin and/or neck is normal and will usually improve over a few weeks.

Patients will have several post-operative visits to monitor their progress and check for any problems. Bandages will be placed over the treatment area and are usually removed after 3 days and a light shower and shampoo are then permitted. If a drainage tube is placed in the incision, it will be removed after 1 or 2 days. If external stitches require removal, they will be taken out after one week. Many patients can resume normal activities and work 2 to 3 weeks after LiteLift (which is about twice as fast as a traditional facelift). However, a patient who has a combination of procedures may require a longer recovery time. LiteLift patients are encouraged to stretch or walk but should avoid heavy housework and strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks.


The results from LiteLift can be seen soon after the surgery since the swelling is minimal. While swelling can persist for several months, the majority of the swelling is gone within a few weeks and the youthful results will be more apparent. The skin will look and feel tighter in its new position. LiteLift allows the hairs along the sideburns to grow through the scars which help to hide them. The scars from LiteLift will mature within 6 to 12 months and the final results can be seen at this time. After LiteLift, the patient will have a fresher, more rejuvenated appearance.

LiteLift can turn back the clock on aging but it doesn’t stop time. The body will continue to age and gravity will eventually alter the results. The rate of aging is determined by heredity, environment and lifestyle. While the results of LiteLift can last ten years for one patient, results vary with different patients. To maintain the results, patients should avoid smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and use a daily skincare regimen including sunscreen whenever going outside. A healthy diet and staying hydrated will keep the skin fresher. To maintain the results, patients should use medical grade skin care products with retinol as well as energy sources such as Radio Frequency and IPL/BBL photo facial lasers on an annual basis. An additional LiteLift procedure can help restore the results once they begin to diminish in later years.   

Limitations and Risks of LiteLift℠

The big LIMITATION of LiteLift is that it is not designed to treat severe conditions caused by aging. Patients with an excessive amount of extra skin, severe laxity of the lower neck and/or heavy nasolabial folds may be better suited for a traditional SMAS Facelift, or a Posterior Neck Lift, to remove excess skin. LiteLift is limited to only treating the natural signs of aging on the lower 1/3 of the face and the mid to upper neck. While it can improve fine lines and wrinkles in the lower facial region, LiteLift is designed for lifting mild to moderate sagging skin.

Some common RISKS with LiteLift include:

  • Swelling
  • Loss of sensation/Numbness
  • Tingling
  • A feeling of tightness that should resolve after the tissues adjust to their new position
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Bleeding at the surgical site
  • Blood or fluid retention under the skin
  • Crusting of the incision
  • Infection
  • Damage to the nerves that control the facial muscles and sensation

Choosing the Best Technique

There are many different types of facial rejuvenation and facelift techniques available.  The training and skill of the doctor is often more important than the technique used. Patients need to be sure and research their choice of doctor. Prospective patients should determine which technique the surgeon intends to use in order to make sure this type of surgery will meet their goals. LiteLift can provide all the benefits of a traditional facelift procedure without the complications, risks and recovery time. Furthermore, LiteLift can be performed in an office setting, and without general anesthesia, which makes it a more cost-efficient procedure.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - SP

Based on an exclusive interview with Larry Nichter, MD in Newport Beach, CA.