Expert Doctor

Neck Lift

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Sarmela Sunder, MD

Beverly Hills, CA

Neck Lift

A neck lift, otherwise known as a lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure used to improve the appearance of the neck and jawline by eliminating excess skin, removing fat and/or tightening the underlying muscles. The neck muscle, or platysma muscle, is a single broad sheet of muscle. As a person ages, this muscle often separates into two while causing an unpleasant looking vertical band along the neck. A neck lift can bring these muscles back together and provide a more youthful looking neck. The procedure can also address the bulk of fat located just under the chin which is often referred to as a “double chin”. A neck lift can address each of these issues separately or rejuvenate the entire neck with one procedure.

Am I a Good Candidate for a Neck Lift?

GOOD CANDIDATES for a neck lift include:

  • Patients with loose skin on the neck or just under the chin
  • Any patient who wants better definition between the jaws and neck
  • Patients with muscle banding in the neck
  • People with sun damaged neck skin causing an aged appearance
  • Any patient who has undergone significant weight loss that contributed to saggy neck skin
  • Men or women with excessive fat or skin under the jaw that causes the chin to disappear
  • Patients in good physical health with some skin elasticity

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for a neck lift:

  • Men or women with extra fat that can more easily be lost through diet or exercise
  • Those who have serious health conditions which may increase the risks during surgery
  • Any patient who is not willing to take at least a week off from work for recovery

How is a Neck Lift Performed?

A neck lift is an outpatient procedure, which can take between 2 and 3 hours, performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. The procedure varies depending on the goals of the patient and the amount of work that needs to be done. While some patients just need a simple liposuction procedure to remove small bulks of fat, others require the more dramatic results of skin removal and muscle tightening.

During a neck lift, the surgeon will make small incisions behind the ears and under the chin. The excess fat is removed either by surgical excision or by liposuction. If the platysma muscles are slack, the surgeon will use sutures to tighten them in a procedure called a platysmaplasty. In some instances, a small portion of this muscle may also be removed. The skin is pulled taut, towards the incisions, and sutured closed. Then, any excess skin is trimmed away.

Combined with Other Procedures

A neck lift may be performed alone or it can be combined with liposuction of the jowls and face. It can also be performed with a face lift, brow lift and eyelid surgery.

Non-Surgical Options

Patients looking for a non-surgical means to improve muscle bands may be better suited for Botox to relax the muscles. Kybella is another injectable treatment which can be used to dissolve the fat cells located just under the chin. However, these minimally invasive treatments cannot provide the dramatic difference a surgical neck lift provides.

What is the Cost of a Neck Lift?

The average cost of a neck lift is $4500-$15,000. This does not include the cost of anesthesia and any facility fees. The cost can vary depending on the amount of work needed, the surgeon’s fees and the geographic location of the facility.

Recovery and Downtime

After a neck lift surgery, it is recommended that patients have a friend or family member stay with them for the first 24 hours of RECOVERY since movement will be difficult. The first few days will consist of plenty of rest and pain medications to help ease any pain or discomfort. Loose-fitting shirts or button-up blouses are recommended since pulling clothes over the head can impact healing. A light elastic bandage should be worn during the first week.

During the DOWNTIME after the surgery, it is recommended that patients walk around the house as much as they can to encourage blood flow. Bruising and swelling is common after a neck lift but these side effects will subside over the first couple of weeks. Patients should avoid excessive bending or twisting of the neck during the first week. They should also keep the neck straight and elevated to minimize swelling and bruising. Although residual swelling can continue for 6 to 8 weeks, patients can generally return to light work within 1 to 2 weeks. The stitches will be removed about a week after surgery. Strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least 2 to 3 weeks post-op. The recovery period will be longer for any patient who combines a neck lift with other cosmetic procedures.


While some patients will see immediate improvements, others may not see instant results due to the swelling. Improvements will be seen as the swelling resolves and the neck begins to heal. Patients who follow post-surgical guidelines, including refraining from smoking and consuming alcohol, are likely to attain their results more quickly. Final results are generally seen within 6 months. Scarring is usually minimal since the incisions are typically concealed. The results can last 5 to 10 years (or more) but the natural signs of aging and gravity will eventually alter the results. The removed fat can never come back so the liposuction results are considered permanent. However, the surrounding fat cells can grow larger if the patient does not maintain a healthy diet after a neck lift.

Limitations of a Neck Lift

LIMITATIONS of what can be accomplished by a neck lift include:

  • Excess skin on the patient’s neck cannot always be removed solely by liposuction.
  • While liposuction can remove fat pockets below the chin, if there is already excessively loose neck skin, the region will have even more slack after liposuction.
  • A neck lift is limited by the amount of lift it can provide and this is especially true when there is excessive sagginess at the jowls and neck. These patients may not attain the desired results with only a neck lift and may be better suited for a facelift with a neck lift.

Risks of a Neck Lift

The RISKS involved with a neck lift include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
  • Hematoma
  • Seroma
  • Numbness
  • Damage to the nerves that control the neck muscles
  • Skin irregularities such as lumps or asymmetry
  • Neck tightness due to the skin being stretched too tightly
  • Scarring

Choosing a Surgeon for a Neck Lift

A neck lift is considered a safe and effective means for skin rejuvenation on the neck region while providing a thinner, younger looking appearance. A neck lift gives natural looking results and has hidden scars. Patients should consult with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon, or a plastic surgeon, that specializes in neck lift procedures and performs them often. Furthermore, the patient should have realistic goals and expectations before having the surgery.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Sarmela Sunder, MD in Encino, CA.