Is there more nerve damage with neck lifts vs lower face lift?

Doctor Answers 8

Facial Surgery and Risks

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All surgical #procedures carry some degree of #risk. The suitability of your procedures and any specific risks may be determined during you #consultation. However, based on this evaluation, your board certified plastic surgeons will create a custom surgical plan, detailing specific techniques and recommendations to meet your goals. If you are not a #candidate, your surgeon can make other suggestions to address your concerns and objectives Also, another element to a #satisfying result of your procedures are realistic #expectations.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Neck Lift / Facelift

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The neck lift / facelift is the same procedure.  It is very rare to experience nerve damage following this surgery.  Consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for an in person exam.

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Face vs Neck

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The neck and lower facelift is the same procedure, and permanent nerve damage is rare. In over 25 years experience, there has been numbness that lasts 3-4 months in some patients, followed by normal sensation. Don't worry about it. All the best. Dr T Narsete, Denver Plastic Surgeon.


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Sensory nerves to the skin are always injured in a facelift.It takes perhaps up to a year for the feeling to fully come back in your cheeks.The greater auricular nerve gives feeling to the ear and has to be avoided.Motion nerves to the brow, or smile are at risk and can rarely be injured.  Usually the injury is only for a short period and the nerves recover.

Nerve damage in face-neck lift surgery

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Incident rate of nerve injury in cosmetic facial surgery is extremely low when performed by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon; it is 0.5-1%. Most of these nerve injuries are transient and will recover within 4 weeks to 6 months after surgery. The more experienced surgeon, the less chance for unwanted result in any surgery. This applies for both neck lift and lower face lift which are very similar, frequently inseparable procedures. 

Zoran Potparic, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Face and neck lift - risk of nerve damage?

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Thank you for asking about your face and neck lift.
  • Like any surgery, there is a very small risk of nerve damage.
  • Actually, the riskiest surgery is a brow lift -
  • Nerve damage from a brow lift can permanently weaken one side of a brow -
  • Over 30+ years in practice, I have seen ten such cases.
  • I have seen no instance of permanent facial nerve damage from a face lift - it can occur but is rare.
  • I have seen a few instances of damage to the nerve to the ear lobe - this alters ear lobe sensation but does not alter how your face or neck work.
Always consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Best wishes. Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Very little practical difference

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Theoretically, more motor nerves are present in the lower face so one might thinkthat the risk is higher there.  Practically speaking, the risk is low in either caseand there is not much diffence in risk between the two.

Brian K. Machida, MD, FACS
Ontario Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Nerve Injury

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Thank you for your question. I don't believe there is actual scientific data on this question. One of the issues with the question is that these procedures can have a different meaning to patients and doctors. In an isolated neck lift the risk of nerve damage is very small and depends on the extent of dissection beneath the platysma. IN s lower facelift you are usually manipulating the SMAS layer which lies above several of the branches of the facial nerve and therefore intuitively in would make sense that there is a higher risk of nerve injury in this procedure. That said, the  two procedures have different indication and the radio should be very low in either. A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon would be very useful to review which procedure is best for you. All surgical procedures have an element of risk but in experienced hands and the appropriate indiction the risk will be minimizedBest of LuckDrG

Lee A. Gibstein, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon

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