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The Expert Guide to Mini Neck Lifts

Patients love the concept of mini lifts, but they don’t always want mini lift results. In order to change someone’s neck and reverse the signs of aging, a careful diagnosis of what causes that individual’s neck aging is necessary.

I believe that successful results in neck rejuvenation surgery start with an individualized diagnosis. That is to say, is the neck aging from excess skin, platysma muscle banding, excess fat, or creping or sun-damaged skin. Before we decide on any treatment, we have to make the diagnosis. Here’s a guide.

Mini neck lifts (sometimes called platysmaplasty or submentoplasty) are becoming more and more popular in Beverly Hills and all around the world. This is likely because the neck is one area that shows signs of aging the fastest. As we get older, our skin loses its firmness and elasticity, our neck muscles weaken, and many people develop excess fat deposits around the chin and neck. This can result in creases or “banding” around the neck, as well as sagging “jowls” or loose skin hanging down beneath the chin. Unfortunately, no matter how well we take care of ourselves, none of us is immune to gravity. But a mini neck lift can correct these common cosmetic concerns — often without the need for general anesthesia and lengthy recovery periods. If you want to take years off your appearance by restoring youthful definition to your neck and jawline, a mini neck lift may be the perfect solution. 

What is a mini neck lift?

A mini neck lift is a procedure or procedures designed to tighten the neck and give a youthful angular appearance to the jawline. It involves an incision underneath the chin (we call this a submental incision), and incisions behind the ears. When present, excess neck fat is removed, the muscles are tightened or repositioned, and the excess or lax skin can be treated either with a device aimed at skin tightening, or more traditional surgery with deep structural sutures and then skin removal.

The term mini neck lift utilizes a shorter skin incision and a smaller field of dissection in the neck. This kind of procedure is appropriate for patients with very minimal signs of neck aging. If a large amount of fat or skin laxity is present, a mini lift is not appropriate. When a large amount of neck skin redundancy is present, a more traditional neck or lower face lift is necessary. 

In many instances, neck laxity and poor definition of the jawline is associated with a weak chin.  In these cases, I recommend that a chin implant be done along with the neck tightening procedure. Liposuction of the submental area can remove excess fat from below the chin. In young individuals, liposuction alone may result in improved definition of the chin and neck. However, in older individuals or people with lax skin, skin redraping after liposuction may be inadequate, and require neck lifting from the sides. I describe this to my patients as tightening a hammock. When we lift from behind the ears and tighten the skin, the neck tightening is like pulling on the ends of a hammock and tightening the center. This snug and angular look to the jawline is what most patients want.

plastic surgery that removes excess skin and fat from around the neck, tightens and lifts the lower face, and/or manipulates the underlying neck muscles (the platysma muscles) to achieve attractive rejuvenation of the neck, jaw, and chin area. When done by an expert plastic surgeon, a mini neck lift can have a dramatically anti-aging effect, with fewer, smaller incisions and less downtime than a traditional neck lift. The procedure is often done to fix a “double chin,” or to remove sagging, loose pockets of skin under the chin —  sometimes called a “turkey wattle.” These are both very common signs of aging, and a full neck lift may still be the best solution for patients who have lots of submental fat deposits and/or severe skin laxity. Especially for patients who have lost a great deal of weight, the excess skin beneath the chin may need to simply be excised or “cut out,” which would necessitate a full neck lift. But for patients with only mild or moderate lower facial sagging, a mini neck lift can yield beautiful, long-lasting results.. 

Mini neck lifts are usually best for patients between 30 and 50 who are seeking a sharper, more contoured jawline and a smoother, slenderer neck. A facelift alone will not adequately address telltale signs of aging on the lower face and neck. This is why some people opt to get a facelift, or chin augmentation, along with a mini neck lift for more uniform facial rejuvenation. Other patients opt for a mini neck lift alone if they merely want to remove excess submental fat or sagging skin.

How much does a mini neck lift cost?

Prices for mini neck lifts vary considerably in relation to what is being done to the patient, and the region of the country where the procedure is being performed.   How much a mini neck lift will cost depends on the extent of the procedure, where you have it done, and the expertise level of your plastic surgeon. Generally speaking, a mini neck lift will cost anywhere from $6,500 on the low-end to $14,000 on the high-end. The price will obviously vary if you have other cosmetic procedures performed at the same time, which many people do. Because a mini neck lift is considered an elective surgery, insurance will not cover it. If you’re concerned about out-of-pocket costs, ask your plastic surgeon’s office if they offer financing options. As always, you will get a more detailed price estimate for a mini neck lift at your initial consultation with your doctor. 

How long does a mini neck lift last?

If a patient practices good skin care, a mini neck lift can last a long time — it just depends on genetics factors and the level of skin laxity. Generally speaking, the younger a patient is, the longer results will last. A mini neck lift usually lasts about 5-8 years before most people consider getting a repeat procedure, but everyone is different. Note that some patients may opt to get injectable fillers as part of a mini neck lift, usually to augment the chin or jaw. In that case, fillers will need to be reinjected at regular intervals to maintain results, though less filler is usually needed over time. 

How is a mini neck lift performed?

A mini neck lift may be performed under twilight anesthesia or general anesthesia. The decision is based on what other procedures may be simultaneously performed, and on the health and specific wants of the patient. The procedure usually lasts 1.5 to 2 hours.

An incision is often made underneath the chin to remove excess fat, and to tighten the neck muscles centrally. Incisions are also made behind the ears, which allow for lateral tightening of the neck muscles (what I would call the hammock effect), and for removal of excess skin. If lifting along the jawline and in the midface is being simultaneously performed, the post auricular or, behind the ear incision, needs to be extended in front of the ear. After the neck lift is completed, either a snug dressing is placed, or drains are placed to suction out excess blood and prevent hematoma formation. 

The scars after a mini lift are fairly unnoticeable and hidden behind the ear and in the hairline behind the ear. If properly performed, patients can wear their hair in a ponytail, and their scars will not be easily noticed.

What is mini neck lift recovery like?

Mini neck lift recovery is generally shorter and less painful than a full neck lift because incisions are less invasive and there is less trauma to delicate tissue. Patients should expect to take 7-10 days away from work or normal activities, and to wear a supportive neck garment for the first week after surgery. As the stitches used are usually dissolvable, patients will not need to come back in to have them removed, but they will need to come in for post-op follow-up appointments to make sure everything is healing okay. Most patients experience a swift recovery, and any initial pain or soreness is easily managed with pain medications. As always, follow your doctor’s post-operative care instructions closely, and keep your head elevated (especially when sleeping) for the first few days after your procedure to reduce swelling and discomfort. To avoid complications, your doctor may advise you to avoid rigorous physical activity for a few weeks after surgery. But most patients are cleared to go back to work and/or their usual routine after about a week. 

The results from mini neck lifts are usually very satisfactory to patients. As with any cosmetic surgery, success is dependent on careful individualized diagnosis, communication between you and your surgeon as to what can be achieved, and the limitations. Plus, a candid explanation of the healing times is essential.

Do I need a mini neck lift plastic surgeon near me?

Patients may want to travel to an expert mini neck lift plastic surgeon, as this is a very delicate and vital part of the body, and top-notch skill and experience are a must. Because there are only a handful of expert plastic surgeons in the country, patients might expect to travel to a location like Beverly Hills for their procedure. 

About Dr. Jonathan Sykes

Dr. Jonathan Sykes is a world-famous expert plastic surgeon who performs all cosmetic and functional plastic surgery procedures on the face and neck. He is a past president of The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and served on their Board of Directors for over 10 years. He is also a Professor Emeritus in Facial Plastic Surgery from UC Davis Medical Center, and the former Director of Facial Plastic Surgery at that institution. He is known as the expert’s expert, and is often called to consult and advise other plastic surgeons in both Northern California and Beverly Hills. He has a special interest in eyelid and browlift surgery, facial rejuvenation surgery, including facelifts and rhinoplasty.