A neck lift surgery is basically the same as a facelift when the majority of the changes involve tightening of the skin and tissue of the lower 1/3 of the face (jowls/jawline) and the neck. There are different degrees of lifting that may be necessary, and the recovery depends on how extensive of a lift that is performed.
A mini lift involves a little liposuction under the chin and tightening of skin in front of and around the ear. The mini lift has a short and rather easy recovery. With a mini you will see a little bruising and swelling that typically fades and subsides in a week to 10 days (although full healing still occurs for 4-6 weeks). Most people are off pain medicine in a couple of days and feel socially acceptable at about a week, but need to stay away from vigorous exercise for at least 3 weeks.
A full facelift involves liposuction under the chin, sometimes adjustment of the muscles in the neck under the chin, removal of skin in front of the ear and around the ear, and also tightening of the deeper fibrous layer of the facial tissues called the SMAS facia (Superficial Musculo Aponeurotic System). This is a stronger layer of tissue attached to the muscles of the cheek and neck. Tightening this gives significantly more lift to the cheek, jawline and neck area and is essential in rejuvenating a more aged face.
This more involved facelift is a larger and more invasive procedure and therefore requires a longer healing time. Patients usually require pain medicine for 3-5 days to alleviate discomfort. The swelling and bruising are more intense and typically require 10-14 days to start to resolve. Most people feel well enough to go back to work at about 2 weeks, but would be fine to work from home (if that’s possible) after the first week. Vigorous exercise needs to be avoided for about a month, but you can walk and do lighter activities after the first week. Usually, it takes 6-8 weeks to feel fully healed.
Finally, sometimes a facelift can be combined with other facial rejuvenative procedures such as blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) and/or brow lift. These procedures do not add a lot of time to the healing process of a facelift, but can make the initial recovery a little more uncomfortable. The added pain, however is definitely worth the benefit of only having to go through one procedure to accomplish all of your aesthetic goals. Imagine only one surgery, one anesthetic and one recovery to achieve a refreshed, more youthful you!