Woman in Des Moines, IA considering facelift vs. neck lift to refresh her appearance

Ask 10 plastic surgeons about the difference between a neck lift and a facelift, and you may get 10 different answers. That’s because the definition of those procedures can vary from surgeon to surgeon, depending on their training and whether they’re plastic surgeons who focus exclusively on the face. At our Des Moines practice, we often combine face lift surgery with a neck lift, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same procedure.

Signs of aging tend to emerge on the lower face and neck at the same time, but that’s not true for everyone. Some people notice significant skin laxity on the neck before they begin to develop jowls. Deciding which surgical path is best has to be decided on a case-by-case basis after consulting with a patient.

Both procedures are among the most common anti-aging surgical procedures performed in the U.S. Even though both surgeries create a more youthful appearance, they address different concerns.

Are You a Good Candidate for a Neck Lift or Facelift?

People are paying more attention to how their necks look than ever before, it seems. Social media is one reason, as people began seeing themselves in poses that tended to highlight sagging neck skin or excess fat under the chin. The increased use of online meetings during the pandemic has brought even more attention to signs of facial aging.

Good candidates for a neck lift or facelift believe sagging skin, jowls, or vertical neck bands make them appear older than they actually feel and see cosmetic surgery as a solution. You can see for yourself the type of results our surgeons create in the gallery of facelift before-and-after photos.

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

When you consider the different concerns addressed by a facelift and neck lift, it becomes clear why combining the procedures is common but not necessary in all cases.

The goals of each procedure include:


  • Removes excess skin and fat on the mid and lower face
  • Improves the cheeks, jawline, and area around the mouth
  • Reduces wrinkles on the cheeks
  • Creates a youthful, rejuvenated facial appearance

Neck Lift

  • Removes excess skin and fat from under the jawline and jowls
  • Tightens neck muscles, reducing submental (below the chin) sagging
  • Minimizes the appearance of “turkey wattle” and double chin caused by excess fat and skin
  • Creates a smoother, more well-defined neckline and chin

The incisions made for each procedure also differ. For a traditional facelift, surgeons make incisions in front of and behind the ear, and they curve naturally into the hair. The surgery involves lifting and repositioning the muscular layers of the face and removing excess skin, creating results that look natural.

Our surgeons make neck lift incisions just behind the ears and, in some cases, below the chin. These incisions give them access to tighten and reposition neck muscles and remove excess fat and skin before closing the incisions.

Does an S-Lift Address Sagging Neck Skin?

The S-Lift, a mini facelift technique used by our surgeons, treats both the lower face and the neck. It’s an excellent option for patients with mild to moderate skin laxity. In addition to the S-Lift, another option for patients concerned about the appearance of their necks who have good skin laxity is neck liposuction.

Are There Nonsurgical Anti-Aging Options?

Many of our patients don’t need facial plastic surgery but want to reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging. Nonsurgical med spa procedures ranging from fillers to laser skin rejuvenation and microneedling are all effective for patients whose skin retains most of its elasticity.

If you’ve been researching plastic surgeons in the Des Moines area for facial plastic surgery, you can contact us using the online form to request a consultation. Or call us at (515) 277-5555 to schedule an appointment.

2 Responses to Is There a Difference Between a Facelift and Neck Lift?

  • Liz mccluskey says:

    I have just had a face and neck lift but now I have no feeling in my ears a bloodshot eye and a large crevice under my neck which is hard to swallow red and I think I’m going to choke can you advise if this is normal?

    • Sue Grandquist says:

      I don’t see that you are a patient of Koch and Carlisle Plastic Surgery. Would it be under a different name? If not, I would advise you reach out to the surgeon who performed your surgery. Thank you!

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