Mini Neck Lift or Full Neck Lift? The Difference Explained

Posted February 01, 2022
Expectations with Mini Neck Lift and Traditional Neck Lift

Wishing for a smooth and slender neck profile can be just as important as a perfectly angled nose or well-balanced facial structure. For many adults, their neckline has been invaded by submental fatty tissue, saggy aging skin, or superficial wrinkles from sun damage. And the best way to combat these neck issues is with a mini neck lift or a traditional neck lift procedure.  

You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between a mini neck lift versus a regular neck lift is? Don’t they both require surgery? Yes, both procedures are considered cosmetic surgeries, with a couple of similar steps within each procedure, but the recovery, downtime, and how long the results last are different. 

We share all the details about the mini neck lift versus a traditional neck lift, but first, why would you need a neck lift in the first place? 

Why Would You Need a Neck Lift?

Your neck’s skin is just as sensitive to sunlight and prone to laxity (loss of elasticity) as the skin on your face. However, we don’t care or focus on it as much as we should. The neck region is often exposed to sun damage, which produces wrinkles, or carries stubborn submental fat (fatty tissue that is exercise and diet-resistant) below your chin. But above all of these skin and fatty tissue issues, the neck area is also where saggy skin from the face collects and hangs, causing a “turkey neck” look and profile.

A surgical neck lift can help tighten saggy skin and eliminate excess skin and tissue from the neck area, making the skin taut and smooth.

What is the Difference Between a Mini Neck Lift vs. Traditional Neck Lift? 

A mini neck lift and a traditional neck lift (also referred to as a lower rhytidectomy) are both considered outpatient surgical procedures that are performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. A mini neck lift is performed with local anesthesia, meaning there isn’t any feeling or pain from the procedure, but the patient is awake. In contrast, a traditional neck lift requires general anesthesia when the patient is completely sedated. 

But the key differences between a mini neck lift and a regular neck lift is the amount of skin removed and the number of steps involved within the procedures. 

Mini Neck Lift involves the surgeon making small incisions at both earlobe curves and behind the ears, extending up to the hairline. Then, the excess skin is slightly pulled back, trimmed, and sewn together with stitches. In some cases, the surgeon may tighten the platysma muscle (a thin sheet of muscle below your mouth and front of the neck), repositioning the muscle with sutures. 

Neck Lift involves several steps to complete this cosmetic procedure. It starts with the same incisions as the mini-neck lift, but the underlying tissue and the platysma muscle are repositioned and tightened with a corset style suturing. Then the extra skin is pulled back and trimmed. The next step is with a liposuction procedure, depending on the submental fat amount a patient may have. The liposuction removes the extra pockets of fat beneath the skin to create a smooth surface.   

What is the Age Ideal for a Mini Neck Lift or Regular Neck Lift?

People may assume that a mini-neck lift is only performed on younger adults and the traditional neck lift is reserved for middle-aged and older patients, but this isn’t necessarily true. 

Deciding to go with a mini-neck lift or regular neck lift has nothing to do with your age but is based on the condition of your skin, muscles, and tissues.

There could be a twenty-year-old patient with excess fatty tissue and relaxed platysma muscle that only a traditional neck lift can help resolve. Or a middle-aged patient with mild skin laxity around the neck may choose to go with a mini neck lift to go along with a facelift to ensure the facial and neck skin look seamless. 

The only way to decide which procedure is best for you is by consulting with a board-certified cosmetic surgeon specializing in the neck lift procedure. During the consultation, the surgeon will examine the skin and muscles around your neck and advise which surgical method will align with the neck’s condition to your desired outcome.  

What Can I Expect with a Mini Neck Lift Procedure? 

Here is a basic step-by-step guide of what to expect with a mini neck lift procedure. 

  • Local anesthesia is administered around the ears and hairline to numb the areas. 
  • Small incisions are made at the earlobe curves and behind the ears and extend up to the hairline.
  • The excess skin is pulled back and removed In some cases, the platysma muscle is tightened with corset sutures.
  • The skin is sewn back together with stitches. 

Mini Neck Lift Recovery

After the procedure, some swelling, and bruising should be expected. The neck and head are wrapped and bandaged for the next 24 hours. The surgeon may prescribe pain medication, but typically taking Tylenol is enough to manage the pain, and patients can resume their normal daily activities 5-7 days after the procedure.

Patients will notice the procedure results about a week after the surgery or when the swelling subsides. A mini neck lift can last 5-10 years before performing another procedure. 

What Can I Expect with Traditional Neck Lift Procedure?

Here is a basic step-by-step guide of what to expect with a regular neck lift procedure. 

  • General anesthesia is administered to the patient. 
  • Small incisions are made at the earlobe curves and behind the ears and extend up to the hairline
  • The excess skin is pulled back, trimmed and the underlying tissues are repositioned and tightened. 
  • The platysma muscle is tightened with corset sutures
  • A small incision is made underneath the chin to insert a cannula (thin tube) for the liposuction procedure. 
  • The incisions made during the procedure are closed with stitches.

Traditional Neck Lift Recovery

The recovery for a neck lift is longer and more strenuous because more trauma is placed on the patient. The body is recovering from two surgical procedures, a neck lift and liposuction, so swelling and bruising should be expected. 

The neck and head are wrapped and bandaged with thin tubes coming out of your neck to help drain the excess liquid from the liposuction. The tubes will be removed at your follow-up appointment with the surgeon a week later, but the bandages will remain on for another week. The surgeon may prescribe pain medication to manage the pain, but the average downtime is two weeks post-surgery.

After the bandages are removed, and the swelling subsides, patients will notice the results around 2-3 weeks after the surgery. The final results will be more apparent 2-3 months after the tissue and muscles settle in the new positions. A neck lift can last ten years or more before performing another procedure. 

Final Takeaway - Mini Neck or Regular Neck Lift

The essential difference between a mini and traditional neck lift is the amount of skin and fatty tissue that is removed. It shouldn’t matter the patient’s age but rather the condition of the skin and tissue of the neck, along with the desired outcome the patient envisions for their neck and profile. 

Consult With a Doctor Near You

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