Expert Doctor

How Neck Lifts Work?

Posted January 30, 2017

Mark Solomon, MD

Bala Cynwyd, PA

How Neck Lifts Work

A neck lift, or rhytidectomy, rejuvenates the neck through liposuction to remove fat, fat contouring or tightening the muscles and repairing bands.  The neck rejuvenation can treat a number of potential problems including too much skin, too much fat, muscle bands or a combination of these three issues. A neck lift can be customized to address any or all of these issues resulting in a more youthful-looking appearance. 



The simplest neck lift procedure is liposuction by itself to remove any fat. Removing the fat shrinks the muscle underneath for a better contour. However, if the patient has a weak chin and some extra fat, they will not get a tight contour because there is not enough projection from the bone.

Surgeons can also contour the neck by contouring the fat and removing the extra skin.

Another neck lift option is to tighten the muscles of the neck, repair those bands with (or without) fat removal, and then remove the excess skin. This option all depends on whether the patient has fat.

None of these neck lift variations have specific names. They all fall under the area of a neck lift, but the technique used depends on the individual patient and what he or she is trying to achieve.



One non-surgical alternative is Kybella which is an injection that melts the fat. However, it takes more than one session for most patients and has some downtime associated with it. There is some bruising, swelling, and discomfort after the injection. It is also more expensive than some surgical procedures.

There are also laser tightening techniques (Cryolipolysis) which are freezing techniques used to freeze the fat in the neck. They primarily target the fat by either heating it or cooling it to get it to shrink. It should be noted that laser tightening techniques do not necessarily make the skin do what the patient and the doctor want it to do in the long run.

Kybella and laser tightening techniques only address the fat. If a patient has problems with their muscle bands, they are not going to fix that issue by melting fat. Melting the extra fat will reveal the muscle bands and make the problem worse because it gets rid of the layer of insulation between the skin and muscle.

Finally, if a patient has prominent muscle bands but not a lot of extra skin, Botox can be injected into the muscles to lift them up and reduce the bands.



There is a limitation to what non-surgical neck lifts can do for a patient. It does not necessarily accomplish the outcome that a surgical neck lift does in terms of the appearance and the longevity of the results.

A common limitation of the surgical procedure is that patients often need something done to their face as well. By addressing any issues with the neck, the surgeon is creating an unharmonious appearance with a tight neck and a jowly face. Most patients will need to have their face done with their neck.



An isolated neck lift is best suited for younger patients. Gravity pulls the neck down first and then it starts to pull the face down as a person ages. An isolated neck lift helps to maintain harmony in the look of the patient.



Surgery always has risks including bleeding and infection. Thankfully, those risks are pretty rare in the neck.

A common risk of neck surgery is a temporary nerve injury. This happens when the nerves that go to the lower lip and jaw line come through the neck and the swelling from the procedure alters the motion of the lower lip. Even though this is a temporary issue, it can last for several months.

There are risks associated with Kybella. For instance, if the injector hits the nerve then the nerve is gone permanently. The chance for permanent damage increases if a patient has more than one procedure performed during their lifetime.

Laser therapy has risks of bruising, swelling, and discomfort. There is also the issue of the laser heat burning the patient.



In general, the amount of downtime is five days to two weeks and there is not a lot of pain for the patient during this period. The results from a surgical procedure can last for many years. The results from a non-surgical procedure can last anywhere from months to a year.



The total cost depends on the extent of the work done by the surgeon.

For example, Kybella includes the cost of the medication which is not cheap. Using a laser-based device can cost more because it involves extra technology, an operating room, and an anesthesiologist.



Performing a procedure safely outweighs everything else for the patient. For instance, patients who have a short neck can have their airway compromised by the neck lift. Protecting the airway requires an operating room and an anesthesiologist. The more issues a patient has, the less likely they will get good results with a non-surgical procedure.



Typically, there are some small scars behind the ear or under the chin when a neck lift is performed. This can require some patients to need a chin implant at the same time. While it adds more work to the procedure, it can give them better definition.



A neck lift rejuvenates the neck and can be performed surgically and non-surgically. The best neck lift method for a patient is best determined by a board-certified doctor. An experienced doctor can examine the patient and decide which technique will give the best results and restore a youthful appearance to the patient’s neck.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Mark Solomon, MD in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania 

Article Last Updated on January 30, 2017