Neck Lift versus Neck Liposuction: What’s The Difference?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on June 29, 2021 No Comments

Neck Lift vs liposuction

It’s easy to confuse neck liposuction and neck lift surgery as being the same procedure. After all, they both have the ability to dramatically the contour of the jawline, the area under the chin and the neck. However, these two cosmetic surgical procedures are very different; they each address different aging characteristics, offer differing results, and differ greatly in terms of the recovery process.

Here’s a basic comparison of neck lipo and neck lift surgery including the benefits and drawbacks of each procedure. Learn more about which is most appropriate for you, neck liposuction, a neck lift, or even a combination of both procedures.

What Is Neck Liposuction?

Neck liposuction addresses isolated pockets of excess fat in the neck area. When fat collects underneath the chin, it forms a double chin, neck bands, or both. Often this fat is highly resistant to both diet and exercise. Neck liposuction is a highly effective way to remove unwanted fat underneath the chin and in the neck, allowing a skilled provider the ability to create a more tautly contoured neckline.

How is Neck Liposuction Performed? 

Neck liposuction typically requires 3 small incisions which are well hidden underneath the chin and behind each ear. A small tube called a cannula is then inserted at the incision sites to permanently suction fat cells from the area. The process sculpts a more youthful, contoured neckline.

Who’s the Ideal Candidate for Neck Liposuction?

Neck liposuction only removes fat and does not address skin laxity. For this reason, the ideal candidate is someone with good skin elasticity. This allows the skin to tighten on its own after underlying fat is removed. Generally, skin elasticity is best in younger patients.

Before and After Liposuction

patient A Liposuction before side view Before
patient A Liposuction after side view After

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What Is Neck Lift Surgery?

A neck lift is a surgical procedure that corrects sagging skin, wrinkles, and tissue laxity in the neck area. While there are many variations of the neck lift, each type will improve the contour of the jawline, chin and neck. Nek lift surgery removes excess fat from the chin and neck area, tighten neck muscles, remove loose, hanging skin, address sagging jowls, improve the appearance of the jawline, and smooth out any neck banding (the rings that appear in the skin around the neck). Neck lifts are often combined with neck liposuction for fat removal followed by skin tightening.

How is a Neck Lift Performed? 

Depending upon the extent of your neck lift, incisions vary. Some neck lifts require incisions which extend from the hairline just above the ears, behind the ears to the hairline at the base of the neck. Some neck lifts may be performed with smaller incisions behind the ears only.

During a neck lift, skin underneath the jawline is lifted and tightened toward the back of the ears, excess skin is removed, and the incisions are then closed.

Who’s the Ideal Candidate for a Neck Lift? 

A neck lift addresses more than excess fat under the chin by tightening muscle and skin as well. It’s therefore ideal for those with age-related skin sagging, wrinkles, or deep neck bands. A neck lift is most commonly performed with a facelift which dramatically rejuvenates both the lower face and neckline.

Before and After Neck Lift

neck lift before Before
neck lift after After
side before Before
side after After

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Neck Lift vs Neck Liposuction: The Differences


While both procedures can create a tighter and more youthful neck contour, there is one key difference. Neck liposuction addresses excess fat under the chin and jawline. If the patient does not have sufficient skin elasticity, this may result in excess sagging skin. A neck lift may include liposuction for fat removal, but also tightens sagging skin and muscle for a dramatically improved neck contour.


Most neck lift surgery techniques are more invasive than neck liposuction as they involve the surgical excision of excess fat and tissue as well as the manual tightening of underlying muscle. Thus, neck lift surgery requires longer incisions to allow the surgeon the needed access to complete the procedure. In contrast, liposuction (especially advanced lipo techniques like SmartLipo) is less invasive as only a few small incisions are required.


Both procedures can be performed in an out-patient setting or office operating suite. Both procedures can be done under local anesthesia with mild oral sedation, although some surgeons may prefer to perform the necklift procedure under general anesthesia. Neck liposuction can usually be performed in under an hour, while neck lift procedures may take 1-2 hours, depending on the extent of the recontouring to be performed.

Recovery (downtime)

Neck liposuction requires less recovery time compared to neck lift surgery because of its less invasive nature. Often, neck liposuction patients are discharged immediately, generally return to work or light activities within 3-4 days, and are typically cleared to resume exercise within 2 weeks.

Neck lift patients, on the other hand, can expect a longer recovery with most patients being cleared to resume work or light activities within 2 weeks. The neck lift recovery process can often be more painful, with neck mobility restrained for the weeks.  Neck stretching exercises are recommended for both procedures starting immediately after liposuction and starting 1 week after neck lifting surgery.

Sutures are usually dissolvable for the neck liposuction, while with the neck lift there are non-absorbable sutures which will need to be removed after about a week.


While any surgical procedure can result in scarring, the chances of noticeable scar development are greater for neck lift surgery than it is for liposuction. This is due to the longer incisions that neck lift surgery requires. However, skilled surgeons will strategically place incisions for both procedures in locations where they will be hidden. There are also numerous scar treatment options to minimize the appearance of any resulting scars.


While the cost of any cosmetic surgery can differ greatly from patient to patient based on specific need, Neck lift surgery is generally considered to be more expensive than neck liposuction because it is a more complicated and longer procedure. However, using a skilled plastic surgeon for an in-person consultation is the only way to find out exactly how much the procedure will cost.

Which Procedure is Right for You?

If your neck area has signs of sagging skin and/or lax muscles, you will probably benefit more from a neck lift procedure which may or may not include neck liposuction. Neck liposuction alone is more appropriate for younger patients with adequate muscle tone and skin tautness who just require the removal of fat pockets to tighten and tone the neck contour. During an in-person consultation, a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in both neck lipo and neck lift surgery can assess the characteristics of your neck and determine the best treatment option to address each patient’s individual needs and achieve their desired end result.

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.

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