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What is the difference between a neck lift/mini facelift and full facelift?

Oftentimes when a patient comes in for a consultation for the face, one of their major concerns has to do with some fullness of the tissue or fat underneath the chin and along the front of the neck.  They raise questions about whether a neck lift alone would suffice for this issue.  At the time of the consultation we try to determine which option would be the most effective for the patient to achieve their goals.
A neck lift, or platysmaplasty, removes the fat that is underneath the chin and tightens the muscles from the Adam’s apple back up to the chin.  Occasionally, liposuction along the neck may be performed in combination with this procedure.  The skin is usually undermined and allowed to redrape and contract naturally.  Good candidates for a neck lift have minimal laxity of the skin, good skin tone, localized fat accumulation underneath the chin, and some weakness of the platysma muscle.  When the skin along the lower face and neck is loose or mild laxity is appreciated, then the patient may be a candidate for a mini facelift.  A mini facelift starts at approximately around the middle of the ear, goes underneath the earlobe and back behind the ear.  The lower tissues along the jaw line and below the jaw line are freed up from the underlying tissues.  The platysma muscles and neck are usually sutured to tighten and improve the angle of the neck.  Fat may be repositioned or removed in order to improve the definition of the neck as well as the outline of the jaw.  The excess skin is removed via this incision.

A full facelift works from the cheekbones down.  It is an incision that starts up in the temple or hair bearing area, goes all the way down in front of the ear, underneath the earlobe, back up behind the ear and back into the occipital or posterior hair.  Through that incision, the skin is lifted off the cheeks and off the jaw line and neck.  The deep or underlying structures are then tightened and repositioned.  The skin is then redraped posteriorly and superiorly, and the excess skin is removed.

A neck lift, or platysmaplasty, may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to do.  A lower facelift or mini facelift may take approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours to do.  A full facelift could take 3 1/2 to 4 hours to do.  The recovery period for these procedures may be anywhere from one to three weeks.  At the time of the consultation, we will discuss what your major concerns are.  We will discuss the findings on physical exam of the face from an aesthetic viewpoint and concentrate on which procedure would be the most effective for achieving the aesthetic improvements and concerns that you have expressed.

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