The Surgeon Minute

A Facelift, Neck Lift, or Both?

A Facelift, Neck Lift, or Both?

If you were to ask the difference between the face and the neck, most people will have little trouble differentiating the two from one another. The answer because a mixed bag when they’re asked what they might “need” when it comes to plastic surgery improvements. Is it a facelift that might return youth, or is it a neck lift? Or both?

Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Cooper breaks down facial aging and notes the identifiers that help patients looking in the mirror consider what may be the problem.

A Facelift and Neck Lift are Somewhat Similar

There are some similarities between a facelift and neck lift procedure as they both eliminate loose, sagging skin. While facelift procedures are usually considering the main surgical operation to turn back the clock on an aging face, the neck can be crucial as well. Facial aging doesn’t stop at the neck line.

Face lift or neck lift?

Our faces and necks often age together and, for the most part, a neck lift might include elevation of the lower face. Conversely, a lower facelift should include tightening of the neck. In most cases the operation is essentially the same but may be called a neck lift or a lower facelift depending on the surgeon’s preference. The one exception is an isolated platysmaplasty, which can tighten the mid line neck without having any effect on the face.

Helping Patients Zero-In on the Issues

Florida-based board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Cooper insists he hears this lament at least once a day when a new patient pays him a visit: “I don’t know what I need, help!”

“A patient will come in and say, ‘I think I need a neck lift.’ And, it’s always a little bit confusing because it’s hard to know. Do they need a facelift? Do they need a neck lift?” Dr. Cooper asks rhetorically. “They’ll look at pictures on the internet. They’ll look at friends who may have had plastic surgery done. And they’ll look at me and wonder, ‘Maybe I just need one procedure done,’ and they’re not really sure about the terminology.”

Face lift patient - Dr. Cooper.

Patient education is always at least half the battle in plastic surgery, as an informed patient will make a better decision than an uninformed one. Your surgeon will guide you and inform you, but ultimately the decision to proceed and with what will be yours. “One important thing to do is learn the anatomy and have a talk with your surgeon,” says Cooper. “This is really your neck and this is your face. I like to show them how those two areas are linked.”

Do I need a Facelift or a Neck Lift? 

Depending on specific issues and desired results, figuring out which procedure is a better fit can be tough for a patient without expert input. Here are a few things you can try at home before going to see a board certified plastic surgeon:

  • To mimic a facelift: put your fingers at the top of your cheekbones and push your skin upward and back.
  • To mimic a neck lift: place your forefingers below the jawline, outside your jaw and push upward and back

Most patients that would benefit from a neck lift also show the signs of aging on the face which would improve with a lower facelift. For this reason, the most commonly performed procedure is actually a combination lower face and neck lift. The incisions are placed around the ear (both in front and behind) and occasionally a small incision below the chin.

Neck Lift Patient - Dr. Cooper.

“The neck and the face are often time linked together,” explains Cooper. “Now, there are times when someone has an incongruent, dislocation between the amount of skin and tissue on the neck and they really have a tight, filled out envelope of skin on the face. And in those patients, an isolated neck lift can be very powerful. It’s a huge adjunct to their jawline that really cleans things up on their face and makes them feel a lot younger and better about themselves.”

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