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Ross A. Clevens, MD, FACS

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As we journey through life, our face and neck inevitably begin to show signs of aging. This is characterized by skin laxity and wrinkling, muscle sagging and weakness as well as the unwanted deposition of fat and volume changes. While aging is a natural process, many individuals seek cosmetic procedures to rejuvenate their appearance and to restore a more youthful look. 

Among the popular options are facelift and neck lift; both techniques are designed to address different aspects of facial aging. Understanding the differences between these procedures is crucial for anyone considering facial cosmetic surgery. Let's delve into the nuances of facelift versus neck lift to help you make an informed decision about which procedure might be right for you.

Facelift: Enhancing Facial Contours

A facelift, also known as rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure aimed at rejuvenating the face by addressing signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and loss of facial volume. Facelift primarily targets the lower two-thirds of the face, including the cheeks, jowls, and nasolabial folds. Facelift typically involves lifting of the cheeks, smoothing of the nasolabial folds, and rejuvenation and tightening of the jowls. 

During a facelift, the incisions are hidden along the hairline and around the ears allowing your surgeon to access the underlying facial tissues. Excess fat is removed or repositioned while muscles are tightened to create a smoother, more youthful appearance. Finally, excess skin is removed and sutured into place, resulting in a firmer and more defined youthful and natural facial contour.

The ideal candidate for facelift expresses concern with facial aging, including jowling, unwanted wrinkles, and laxity in the lower two-thirds of the face. It is essential to have realistic expectations and understand that while a facelift creates a more youthful and rested appearance, it cannot halt the aging process. Facelift should be viewed as turning back the hands of time. A daily medical-grade skincare regimen and regular nonsurgical treatments such as injectables and lasers can help maintain and extend your facelift results.

Neck Lift: Refining the Neck and Jawline

While a facelift targets the lower two-thirds of the face, a neck lift focuses specifically on rejuvenating the neck, jawline and profile.  As we age, the skin on the neck may develop horizontal bands, excess fat deposits, and loose, sagging skin, creating the dreaded "turkey neck" appearance.

During a neck lift procedure, the surgeon makes incisions behind the ears and/or under the chin to access the underlying neck muscles and soft tissues. Excess fat is removed and sculpted, muscles are often tightened, and the skin is repositioned and trimmed to eliminate sagging to create a smoother, more youthful neck contour and profile.

Neck lifts are suitable for individuals bothered by sagging skin, excess fat, and muscle laxity in the neck area. Whether due to genetics, weight loss, or aging, a neck lift can restore definition to the jawline and improve overall facial harmony. Neck lift is often performed in conjunction with a facelift for more comprehensive rejuvenation of the face and neck. 

Choosing the Right Procedure for You

Deciding between a facelift or a neck lift depends on several factors, including your specific aesthetic concerns, the degree of aging, and your overall facial anatomy. 

Here are some key considerations to help guide your decision:

  • Area of Concern: Evaluate which areas of your face bother you the most. If you primarily struggle with sagging cheeks, deep folds, and jowls, then a facelift may be the most appropriate choice. On the other hand, if your main concern is excess skin and fat under the chin and along the neck, then a neck lift may be more suitable. 
  • Consultation with a Qualified Facial Plastic Surgeon: Schedule your consultation with a board-certified facial plastic surgeon who specializes in facial rejuvenation. During your consultation, discuss your goals, preferences, and medical history to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your needs.
  • Combination Procedures: In many cases, a combination of facelift and neck lift may be recommended to achieve comprehensive facial, neck, and profile rejuvenation. Your surgeon will tailor the treatment plan to address your unique concerns and aesthetic goals. Many patients who choose facelift and neck lift also consider other complementary procedures such as eyelid lift (blepharoplasty), browplasty and forehead lift, lip lift and laser skin rejuvenation. Your facial plastic surgeon will help you decide which combination of procedures is best for you. 

Facelifts and neck lifts are powerful surgical procedures designed to reverse the effects of facial aging and restore a more youthful appearance. By understanding the differences between these procedures and considering your specific aesthetic goals, you can make an informed decision about which option is right for you. Remember to consult with a qualified facial plastic surgery specialist to explore your options and embark on your journey to a rejuvenated and revitalized appearance.

Look good, feel good. Discover a healthier, happier you! 

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