Facelift vs. Neck Lift: What’s the difference?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on July 6, 2015 13 Comments

facelift versus neck lift surgery

Facelift and neck lift surgeries are two of the most effective procedures for dramatically reducing the visual appearance of aging on face, neck, and décolletage areas. How do you know if you need a facelift or a neck lift?


There are some similarities between a facelift and neck lift procedure. They accomplish similar results: both procedures result in significant improvements to saggy skin and weak muscles around the face and neck. The outcome of either procedure is an instant and significant reduction of the signs of aging. Respondents in a 2012 study determined that face lift surgery, for example, makes patients look an average of 6 to 8 years younger. Whereas neck lift surgery is typically thought to remove 10 to 15 years’ worth of aging effects. It is important to note, however, that the procedures are often combined into a single, very powerful procedure yielding all the benefits of both.

In addition to results, both procedures share similar degrees of invasiveness and recovery periods. Further, both procedures have the ability to produce long-lasting results, especially if the patient follows all aftercare instructions from their physician and leads a healthy lifestyle post-procedure.


Facelift: While there are various types of facelift surgeries, generally speaking, when plastic surgeons describe a facelift procedure they are referring to the technique of pulling up the skin at the cheeks towards the forehead. Incisions are made primarily in front of the ear. Thus, the facelift focuses on improving the cheeks, lower face (marionette lines), jowls, and jawline to reduce wrinkles and correct sagging skin in the area.

Neck Lift: In contrast, neck lift surgery uses a technique that pulls excess skin under the chin, jawline, and jowls. Incisions are generally placed behind the ears and below the chin to hide them effectively. A neck lift pulls the hanging skin under the chin, the jowls and the jawline. Neck lift procedures correct the area below the chin and correct “turkey neck” (draping skin on the front of the throat).

Do I need a facelift or a neck lift?

Depending on specific issues and desired results, sometimes determining which procedure is a better fit can be difficult for a patient without expert input. Here is an interesting at-home technique:

  • 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.

The best way to determine which procedure is right for you is to schedule a free consultation, where our cosmetic consultants can properly diagnose facial and aging characteristics and design the best course of treatment. Depending on your needs there may also be other non- or less-invasive treatment options such as neck facial liposuction, dermal fillers, or Kybella.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

13 Responses to “Facelift vs. Neck Lift: What’s the difference?”

  1. Avatar Donte says:

    Great comparison, thanks for posting

  2. Avatar Richard says:

    Well written post! I completely agree with those differences.

  3. Avatar Sergey says:

    A neck lift addresses neck skin redundancy or deformity, and involves an incision behind the ear and usually beneath the chin.

  4. Avatar Renee says:

    Just to add: a neck lift addresses neck skin redundancy or deformity, and involves an incision behind the ear and usually beneath the chin.

  5. Avatar Catherine says:

    Thanks for the clarification. I was confused about lower facelift vs neck lift but this is clear and helpful 🙂

  6. Avatar Daytona says:

    Thanks for posting, I found this via Google and it helped since I’m considering doing something to tighten my lower face/neck. Unfortunately I live in Montana otherwise I would come in for a free consult 🙂

  7. Avatar Cheri says:

    I have been thinking of both these procedures over the past year and have consulted w/Dr. C. One question that I have is …. will a neck lift help smooth those “tree” lines on my decolletage? Those lines seem to be the most aging part on me.

    • Hi Cheri, While a neck lift with or without facelift will improve vertical lines on the neck and excess skin of the neck, they do not influence wrinkles on the chest or décolleté. Additionally the transverse lines on one’s neck are a part of normal anatomy and do not disappear with neck or face lifting procedures. Wrinkles and aging of the chest and décolleté are often better treated with chemical or laser peeling.

      Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions or would like to discuss alternative treatment options.

  8. Avatar Sandi says:

    Lower face, neck, and jowls

  9. Avatar Ruth says:

    I am 85 years old and wonder if I can have a neck lift. Will I take longer to heal?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Ruth,

      Thank you for reading our post and submitting your question! As always, the specific answer will depend on your unique health history/status and facial characteristics. As such, you’ll need to get an in-office consultation with a skilled surgeon to assess your specific candidacy for the procedure.

      That being said, as long as you are in good overall health and have proper skin elasticity you may still be a great candidate for a neck lift.

      If you are in the Austin area please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. Then we can give you the specifics!

      WD Staff

  10. Avatar meddco says:

    I like the DIY tips at the end, that’s just fun hahaha

  11. Avatar Geraldine says:

    Botox can ‘lift’ the appearance of the neck and redefine your jawline, making your skin look tight and supple. By placing multiple injections on the jawline and the neck adjacent to the platysma muscle, the skin along those areas are lifted and the sagging skin disappears. The procedure only takes a few minutes, with the effects appearing throughout a week or so.

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