The neck is one of the areas of the body that tends to store fat. A fat neck gives off the appearance of obesity and old age. No one wants that, so getting a slimmer neck is something that tops many people’s lists. There are natural ways to get a slimmer neck, but surgical and nonsurgical procedures can help with slimming down the neck.
You can get a slimmer neck through cosmetic procedures like submental liposuction, neck lifts, fat-dissolving injections, CoolSculpting, botox, and trapezius slimming. Losing weight and the proper diet are also important in slimming down the neck.
Getting a slimmer neck is usually something that women prefer. Men? Not so much. This difference in preference happens because a slimmer neck is usually a feminine trait. And many of the procedures available to get a slimmer neck have the goal of attaining an overall feminine appearance. Men usually have stockier and bulky neck muscles. Even when that is the standard, some risks come with a large neck, but more on that later.
Men who choose to undergo neck slimming procedures have excess fat in their chin and neck area, or a low hyoid bone, not just bulky muscles. That said, both men and women are candidates for neck slimming, although some women may focus on creating a more feminine appearance while men just want to avoid the double chin look.
For more info on the role of the hyoid bone in neck fat, check out our article.
The Benefits of a Slimmer Neck
A Slim Neck and Youthfulness
As people age, the skin usually sags and droops down, making it seem like their neck is much larger than it is. Conversely, a toned neck that is slim and firm makes someone look more youthful. A slim and wrinkle-free neck is a marker of youth, and many people want to have that smooth and firm appearance.
As a person ages, the neck slowly turns into a ‘turkey’ or ‘turtle’ neck due to sagging and wrinkles. That in itself makes the neck look larger than it is.
A Feminine Silhouette
A slimmer neck also gives way to a more feminine appearance. A large, thick neck is usually characteristic of masculinity, and most women do not prefer to have large necks.
When there’s too much neck fat, the jaw is undefined, which is unattractive in both sexes.
Risks of a Larger Than Normal Neck
Increased Risk of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleeping disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for a moment while they are asleep. This pause in breathing causes the body to forcefully wake up to breathe again. Sleep apnea will cause restless sleep. However, sleep apnea is also linked to heart problems and high blood pressure. It also increases insulin resistance, making a person more prone to type 2 diabetes.
One of the risk factors of sleep apnea is a thicker neck. And in people who already have sleep apnea, a large neck is an additional and independent risk factor (Ahbab et al., 2013). People who have larger necks may have smaller airways, increasing their risks of getting obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is the type of sleep apnea where the muscles in the back of your throat relax during sleep. This relaxation of the muscles causes the airway to narrow and constrict breathing. The brain then senses the lack of oxygen and jolts the body awake.
High Blood Pressure
Large neck circumferences are usually the effects of excess fat. Because of that, someone with a large neck is more at risk of elevated high blood pressure. According to this study by Kuciene et al. (2015), on nearly 2000 children, a large neck circumference, together with obesity/overweight, highly increases the likelihood of elevated blood pressure.
What Influences Neck Size?
Neck Ageing and Sagging
It’s not only the muscles or the fat of the muscle that contribute to neck size. Aging also plays a significant role in making someone look like they have a larger neck. You may have noticed that older people tend to have more wrinkles on their necks and the neck and chin area tends to sag more. The sagging also results in a ‘turkey’ neck, as previously mentioned.
A common solution to help with neck aging is applying topical products with N-Acetyl Glucosamine. NAG is a chemical that can help smooth out wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Plus, some studies back the chemical’s validity. This study on women applying a cream with NAG for 16 weeks resulted in improvement at each time a dermatologist examined their progress (Schlessinger et al., 2016).
While NAG does not directly help with size per se, it does help a lot with the neck’s appearance. Since wrinkles and hyperpigmentation both contribute to the neck appearing slightly lacking proportion, NAG is a good starting point for slimming down the neck.
Like all other parts of the body, the neck is prone to fat accumulation. Fat can accumulate underneath the chin and along the jawline that can contribute to a larger neck’s appearance. Proper diet and exercise will eliminate most of the fat in the neck area, but there are some areas where the fat is stubborn and will remain in place even with a rigorous diet and exercise.
Sometimes, muscles in the neck can contribute to a larger appearance. Even muscles in the shoulder could make the neck look larger than it is. This appearance is the case with many bodybuilders trying to achieve a bulkier look But what a bodybuilder wants is not exactly what everybody wants. For women, a very muscled silhouette can make them look less feminine, which is not ideal.
The Hyoid bone is a less obvious aspect of neck fat, but the changes that it causes are quite prevalent. Unlike other bones in the body, the hyoid is connected to a set of muscles. The hyoid’s anatomy is important because as the muscles sag with age, the hyoid bone does as well. If your hyoid bone is set low, it will contribute to the appearance of a heavy chin and a larger neck. On the contrary, a hyoid bone that’s set high will make you look like your jawline and chin is more prominent, which are both attractive characteristics. When you are trying to slim down your neck, and nothing seems to be working, it may be the hyoid bone causing your issues.
The Chin and the Neck
Many of the surgeries or ways to get a slimmer neck usually involve the chin. Although the chin is not technically part of the neck, the way a chin looks seriously influences the neck’s appearance. This is why someone with a double chin will look like they have a larger neck even when their neck looks normal underneath. Thus, the chin is still significant in analyzing the appearance of the neck.
You could have a great neck that simply does not show up because your double chin covers it. When people see the neck area, they inevitably get drawn by the chin as well. It becomes important to maintain the chin as a highlight in thinking about the ideal neck size.
Surgeries to Get a Slimmer Neck
Submental liposuction involves the suctioning of excess fat from the chin and neck area. It is most applicable in people who have a little bit of extra fat on their neck and chin. The goal of the procedure is to achieve a slimmer and more youthful-looking neck. Cervical-mandibular contours help create neck and facial contours that are important in creating definition and depth to facial appearance. Localized fat deposits are one of the main reasons that a person lacks appropriate neck contours. Submental liposuction is one of the choices many surgeons go for.
The patient goes under a sedative, and then the surgeon makes an incision where they will insert the cannula that sucks out the fat deposits. The procedure usually does not take too long, and the patient can go back to nontaxing work by the next day. However, most doctors recommend that the patient refrains from doing strenuous work for the next few weeks. The final results of the procedure manifest at around the 3-month mark post-op.
Like with other liposuction procedures, the patient needs to be in good health and needs to have great skin elasticity so that the skin can bounce back after the procedure.
A neck lift is a surgical procedure where the surgeon makes several incisions, one on each side of the face behind the ears and a small one on the chin. The entire procedure is completed under anesthesia and will take several hours. Neck lifts are common with other procedures such as dermal fillers or chin implants. Overall, the goal is to shape the jawline and neck to achieve a more rejuvenated appearance.
According to facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon Shaun Desai, they usually look at a patient’s hyoid bone and chin projection to determine if they are candidates for a neck lift. As this is a surgical procedure, it is necessary that the patient is in good health and has no underlying medical problems that could influence the procedure’s result.
A neck lift has around 2-3 weeks of recovery time wherein the patient cannot do much work. There will be some swelling and bruising in the beginning, but they will fade in time. The stitches used during the procedure can come out at around 5-10 days. As this is a surgical procedure, it does involve some risks. Risks that come with neck lifts are bleeding and scarring. To minimize the possibility of these risks happening, make sure you consult with a board-certified surgeon who is adept at the procedure.
Hyoid Surgery (Suprahyoid Myotomy)
A suprahyoid myotomy is a surgical procedure that will help lift your hyoid bone. The term suprahyoid is the collective term for the group of muscles above the hyoid that elevates it. In a suprahyoid myotomy, the surgeon will do several incisions on the muscle, and that will elevate your hyoid by a couple of mm up and backward, helping create a more defined chin and neck.
Noninvasive Ways to Get a Slimmer Neck
The noninvasive counterpart to submental liposuction is fat-dissolving injections. Fat-dissolving injections are best for people who have significant fat deposits in their chin and neck but do not have too much excess skin. There is no particular list of ingredients that you can find in all fat-dissolving injections. However, there are many common components, such as phosphatidylcholine/deoxycholate (PC/DC), alpha lipid acid, and enzymes. Not all ingredients in fat-dissolving solutions are FDA approved, so you may want to take caution in that department. However, there is a fat-dissolving injection under the name Kybella that has been FDA-approved since 2015.
Kybella induces adipolysis when injected into the problem area. Meaning, it digests or breaks down the fat cells in that area. Still, Kybella is not the only option, and each surgeon may have a different solution. Kybella is a more expensive option, and you might not have the most extensive budget. Just make sure that you are consulting with a board-certified surgeon and that you ask for the ingredient list of their fat-dissolving injection.
Fat-dissolving injections can take up to 6 treatment sessions if the problem area is large. If it is relatively small, then some patients can make do with just one session. It usually only takes less than an hour to perform the procedure. Anesthesia is not a requirement, but patients can opt for it if they want to. On a pain scale of 1 to 10, many patients report the pain to be around 4. The procedure is not even painful to an extent; most of the time, it is a present discomfort. If the patient does not opt for a sedative, the surgeon can use a numbing cream.
The neck area may feel a little swollen after the procedure, but there will be little to no downtime, a plus for many people with packed schedules.
CoolSculpting is a fat-reduction method that does not involve the use of injections or going under the knife. Instead, it utilizes a process called cryolipolysis. In essence, cryolipolysis is just the process of freezing the fat cells to death. The body flushes away the broken down fat slowly over the next months. The low temperatures in the target problem area will cause the fat to break down without harming the rest of the body since fat freezes at a higher temperature than skin. CoolSculpting has very few risks associated with it since there’s no getting under the skin for it to work.
However, not everyone is a candidate for CoolSculpting. The medical practitioner will have to screen applicants for candidacy, and people with certain medical issues like cryoglobulinemia and paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria should not undergo the procedure. Good health and proper skin condition is also a must before a client becomes a candidate for the procedure.
Take note that CoolSculpting is not a weight-loss procedure. The procedure only becomes an option when the patient has tried everything from diet to exercise, and the fat is still there. In short, CoolSculpting is for stubborn fat and should not be the first option. That said, final results often manifest in a couple of months, but changes begin to happen just after a few weeks. Plus, there is no downtime for CoolSculpting, and most patients can go on with their daily activities right after the procedure. Although there may be some tingling in the area after the process, the side effects usually go away in a couple of days.
The trapezius is a muscle that runs along with the transition from your neck to your shoulder. Trapezius slimming, although not a procedure that changes the neck directly, is extremely helpful in slimming down the appearance of the neck. The most common application of trapezius slimming is to create a more feminized appearance. It also helps with easing tension in the neck and shoulders, and this benefit is one reason people go for the procedure. The procedure is best for people who have overactive or hypertrophic shoulder muscles. If the reason for your enlarged shoulder muscles is other than that, then trapezius slimming may not be the option for you.
The process makes use of botox to tone down the activity of the muscle without impairing movement whatsoever. The use of botox in the shoulder area is not a conventional use of botox, but there are already studies citing its safety. The results usually show up within a month after the procedure. The effect lasts around up to 6 months. The procedure has no downtime as well, and most patients will be alright if they jump into their routine activities immediately. However, a follow-up consultation may be necessary to determine the effectiveness of the procedure.
Botox for the Neck
Botox for the neck will help most with wrinkles and mild sagging in the neck due to aging. As previously stated, aging can cause the neck to become saggy, and the wrinkles will contribute to an older and larger neck appearance. Botox will help smooth out those wrinkles, although it cannot help much with severe sagging.
The good thing about botox is that it is a non-invasive procedure and has few risks. However, if you are trying to correct fat deposits or a major case of aging, then botox in the neck is not the best option for you.
Natural Ways to Get a Slimmer Neck
You may not realize how much your posture is affecting your neck. But not practicing the proper posture makes your body look more forward than it is. And in doing that, you are effectively making your neck look more compact than it is. If you square your shoulders, straighten your back, and employ proper upright posture, you will notice an immediate difference.
Exercise is one of the easiest ways that you can lose some of the weight in your neck. Technically, it is not possible to target a specific area of the body in fat loss. But losing weight, in general, will help a lot in trying to slim down the neck, especially if most of the large appearance in the neck is due to fat accumulation. Specific exercise routines that focus on fat burning are most beneficial to get a slimmer neck. Once you have done what you can with exercise and dieting, but the neck fat still does not budge, it’s time to consider other options.
Mewing and Jaw Exercises
If you don’t know what mewing is, it’s essentially a process of practicing proper oral posture to achieve significant changes to your jawline and other facial features. Mewing will help you get a slimmer neck because the entire mechanism involves your hyoid bone’s active use. To mew properly, you need to push your tongue upward, which will also push your hyoid in the same direction. Given some time, this will eventually translate to tangible physical results.
Additionally, jaw exercises can also do a lot to slim down your neck. For example, engaging your jaw in fast-paced opening exercises will considerably increase the hyoid bone’s elevation (Matsubara et al., 2018). You can also try out any other facial exercise that will engage the muscles in your jaw, chin, and neck area as a way to improve tone.
For more info on mewing, check out the scientific evidence, before/after photos, and our Ultimate Mewing Guide.