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Also known as ‘plastysmaplasty’, neck lift surgery involves the removal of skin and tightening of underlying structures in the upper neck and under-chin area. Read on to learn about benefits, risks and the recovery involved. 

What is a neck lift?

Neck lift is a surgical procedure Dr Sharp performs in Brisbane hospitals, to alter the appearance of the neck, specifically the area under the jawline, by reducing skin and tightening the tissues underneath. Also called cervicoplasty or platysmaplasty, it involves a range of techniques and approaches whose ultimate surgical objective is firming and tightening the neck region.  

How long does neck lift surgery take?

The procedure usually takes two to three hours, but the time may differ accordingly if other surgeries such as liposuction, facelift (meloplasty or rhytidectomy) or blepharoplasty are performed at the same time.

The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia. There are a number of methods for this procedure, but the most common involves a small incision, made under the patient’s chin, and in front or behind the ear to access the platysma (neck muscle) and tighten as required. Excess skin is then also removed.

Can I have liposuction with my neck lift?

Yes, Dr Sharp sometimes combines the procedure with liposuction on the neck to remove small amounts of fat.

A drain is placed in the neck to drain fluid and decrease the swelling, usually for 24-48 hours after surgery. Please keep in mind that this procedure will remove small deposits of fat, is not a weight reduction tool, and is most suitable for people with a BMI under 30.


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How long does neck lift recovery take?

Following the surgery, you will wear a compression garment to help decrease the swelling. Most patients are able to return to work or normal activities after 7-14 days, depending on their work. Complications associated with neck lift include infection, swelling, bruising, sensation loss or damage. As with all surgery, especially those that involve general anaesthetic, extreme complications can involve permanent injury or even death. Risks will be discussed during multiple communication points with your surgeon prior to committing to surgery, ensuring you have the information required to make a confident, well informed decision. 

What’s the difference between a neck lift and lower facelift?

One of the most common facial surgery questions we receive is “how do I know whether I need a neck lift – or a facelift?” Online forums and surgery websites provide conflicting information and terminology for these procedures; what they entail, and what they address – causing greater confusion. What is colloquially known as a ‘neck lift’ may not technically refer to the surgical procedure that this title traditionally entailed.

The face and neck age together, and for the most part, a neck lift should include elevation of the lower face. Conversely a facelift should include tightening of loose neck skin. In modern times where facelift and neck lift surgery aims to be less invasive, the operation is sometimes discussed as one of the same.

If you are having a neck lift on its own, the mid face and jawline are not altered; however you will usually have an incision across your neck under your chin so the platysmaplasty can be performed to tighten the mid line neck.

If you have a facelift (for mid, lower and jawline areas), generally the upper neck will also be tightened and in most cases, the incision across the neck isn’t required as Dr Sharp accesses the upper neck via the pre exisiting incision he has made behind the ear, and down towards the nape of the neck/hairline.

A neck lift aims to change the neck by:

  • ETightening the platysma - underlying neck structure that sits under the skin
  • EExcising skin in the neck area

The face lift technique Dr Sharp most commonly utilises, performs the above, as well as possibly:

  • EReducing deposits of fat under the chin
  • ELifting the underlying structures of the mid and lower face
  • ESkin excision in the mid, lower face and jowls

A limited-incision neck lift may involve incisions only around the ear. While the incisions are shorter and scars less visible, the results of this approach can be more limited.

Dr Sharp always tailors this procedure to a number of considerations including the patient’s pre existing anatomy, skin condition and their surgical objective or concerns. 

What won’t neck lift surgery address?

A neck lift will not change your overall appearance – and will not halt the ageing process.

It will not make your lower face look slimmer; fat dissolving injections or liposuction is usually required if you wish to remove excess fat in the submental or upper neck region

Pictured: before and 3 months after liposuction to upper neck with Dr Sharp. Results vary between patients. 

Brisbane chin lipo
Brisbane lipo surgeon
Neck lift surgery will not improve the condition of the skin on your neck or décolletage; non surgical skin treatments, including laser, micro needling and specialist skincare will address the pigmentation and deterioration of the skin health in these areas.

A neck lift can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results in lifting and tightening the skin, but may help delay the time at which a neck lift becomes appropriate.

Often, people feel they need a neck lift to address their jowls and sagging skin in their lower face, however the cause of their concerns actually begin with the loss (and migration) of their underlying facial support structures, such as fat – causing skin and tissue to hang around the lower face. In this case, a facelift – and subtle use of dermal fillers to replace lost bone structure and fat in the upper mid face – may alter these aspects, and a neck lift might not be required quite as early.

The aim of all facial cosmetic and plastic surgery should be to create as much balance and harmony as possible, while retaining a healthy and realistic appearance. In some cases a neck lift may be performed on its own, in cases where the neck has experienced premature ageing before the face.

Usually, the face and neck appear to age together, meaning a facelift and neck lift are often integrated into a single procedure, to harmonise the facial features and balance the results. A facelift might restore your facial appearance back to that of a 45 year old, but if your neck still looks like it’s 60 with protruding vertical platysmal bands and horizontal lining, the face and neck may look at odds beside each other, which is what we sometimes see in the notorious Hollywood plastic surgery tabloid media, that’s dead giveaway for facelift surgery – without consideration of the adjacent ageing neck.

When is facelift surgery performed with neck lift surgery?


Most neck lift surgery performed by Dr Sharp is coupled with a facelift that particularly focuses on the lower face, to ensure seamless aesthetic and functional results.

Facelift surgery is often performed on its own in patients who are in their 40s and 50s, but if a patient is having their first facelift in their 60s, Dr Sharp may recommend a neck lift as well.


By reducing loose facial skin and repositioning underlying support structures, facelift surgery can create a ‘lifted’ effect that significantly reduces the visible signs of ageing, in a way that no alternative treatment or non surgical procedure can. When combined with neck lift, a facelift can incorporate the upper neck as well – including skin, loss of definition in the undercroft of the chin, neck wrinkles and thick bands (platysma bands).

What other procedures are commonly performed alongside a neck lift?

Procedures that may be performed in conjunction with a neck lift include fat transfer, liposuctiongenioplasty (chin implant surgery to create chin projection), lip and cheek enhancement with dermal fillers or eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), to reduce excess skin above the eyes. The benefits of a single procedure can include a single anaesthetic and hospital admission, as well as consolidating overall downtime, however this must be weighed against increased risks associated with a longer anaesthetic and increased healing demand on the body. These are all factors that are discussed in detail with Dr Sharp during your thorough preoperative consultation process.

Can muscle relaxing or wrinkle injections replace a neck lift?

No. Strategically placed muscle relaxing injections can help soften the downward ‘pull’ of the neck muscles that create prominent Iines and bands, and over time this can reduced the dynamic activity that leads to static lines on the neck. The effect last 3-5 months and treatments need to be maintained to see results. The outcome does not replace neck lift surgery but is a more conservative therapy that may be worth considering if you aren’t ready for surgery yet – or want to stave it off! We perform these injections in our Brisbane and Ipswich clinics.

Dr Sharp’s advice for those considering any facial surgery

Ask your surgeon to explain:

  • Ethe steps of the procedure
  • Ehow frequently they perform the surgery, and for how long they have been doing so
  • Ewhat it aims to accomplish
  • Ethe location of incisions
  • Epotential pitfalls and complications.
  • Eand ensure you don’t sign anything until you understand explicitly what you are consenting to!

Possible complications of surgery include:

  • Acute medical event such as stoke, heart attack, pneumonia
  • The need for revision or further surgery
  • Pain which does not respond to pain relief
  • Nerve damage, causing altered sensation or loss of sensation – temporary or permanent
  • Haematoma (collection of blood), oedema (collection of fluid) and abscess
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolisms (PE)
  • Damage or or loss of loose teeth during placement of anaesthetic apparatus
  • Sore throat, swelling or discomfort following placement of breathing tubes during anaesthetic
  • Breathing difficulties following anaesthetic
  • Allergic reaction to medication, sutures, dressings, tapes or intraoperative solutions
  • Heavy bleeding from the wound, which may require further surgery
  • Poor or slow skin healing, wound infection, breakdown or necrosis (skin death)
  • Wound dehiscence (incision separation)
  • Adverse scarring
  • Puckering skin
  • Neck tightness
  • Psychological impact of surgery, recovery or altered appearance
  • Death

before and 3 months after neck lift surgery with Dr Sharp

Before and 3 months after neck lift with liposuction by Dr Sharp.

Would you like to know more about neck lift surgery? Contact our friendly patient support team.