As we age, our skin and muscles of the neck region begin to lose tone and we start to notice that we’ve developed wrinkle rings, turkey gobblers, and perhaps droopy jowls. The neck lift is a surgical procedure to improve sagging skin, weakened muscles, and excess fat of the neck. While it cannot stop the process of aging, the neck lift can improve the most visible signs of aging by tightening deeper structures, re-draping the skin of the neck, and removing selected areas of fat. Most typically, a neck lift can improve the front of the neck. Sometimes a modified neck lift works best on patients with limited aging areas such as mild muscle bands and skin laxity when there is not excessive skin. A neck lift can be performed alone, or in conjunction with other procedures, such as a brow lift, liposuction, eyelid surgery, or nasal surgery. It is typically incorporated with facelift procedures.
Am I a candidate for a neck lift?
Neck lift surgery is individualized for each patient. The best candidates for neck lift surgery have a neck line beginning to sag in certain areas, rather than everywhere, but whose skin has elasticity and whose bone structure is well defined. Neck lift procedures will not address all facial concerns of aging. They will not prevent further aging, and may actually create an uneven aging profile in that the neck lift treated area now appears much younger than other facial areas not treated. For patients where this would be a concern, it would be best to have a combination facelift / neck lift procedure. Discuss these procedures with your surgeon to determine what procedure is best for you and what expectations are realistic.
Depending on what issues concern you, your neck lift procedure is tailored just for you. If you have weakened or loose muscles, the doctor will perform a platysmaplasty, which tightens your neck muscles by making incisions under your chin and/or behind your ears to access the platysma (neck muscle) and manipulate them accordingly. If you have excess skin, a cervicoplasty is the procedure used to remove that excess skin. Just like the platysmaplasty, your surgeon will make similar incisions for a cervicoplasty, trimming parts of the skin and lifting it into place and it will be secured with tissue glue or sutures. Typically the platysmaplasty is performed with the cervicoplasty. If fat has created jowling and ruined your jawline, this is also addressed at the time of the neck lift. Maybe you have one or more of those concerns about your neck. That is why we say that your neck lift procedure it tailored to you. Here at North Shore Aesthetics, your neck lift will be done in our private surgical suite under IV sedation. Typically, the procedure will last one to two hours. Of course, if you are having a neck lift in conjunction with liposuction, facelift, brow lift, or other surgeries, the time will vary accordingly. Again, your exact procedure will depend on your desired results and your own personal circumstances.
When talking about a neck lift, patients have two options: submentoplasty or a platysmaplasty.
Submentoplasty is often referred to as a mini neck lift, and it uses a smaller incision to perform the lift. Your doctor will make the incision and remove fat from the neck. Doing this will better accentuate the jawline and give your neck a more youthful appearance. If you want a smaller lift and little less time spent under the knife, then this procedure may be for you.
A a platysmaplasty is a full neck lift. It is a slightly more invasion procedure, but it produces better results. In this procedure, your doctor will realign your neck muscles to prevent the appearance of a double chin, fatty jowls or loose, saggy skin underneath the neck.
Before choosing a procedure, it’s best to sit down with your doctor and talk about your options. You can discuss your goals for the surgery, and your doctor will help you choose the right surgery to fit your needs.
After surgery, you leave our facility with a snug bandage wrapped around your neck and head. The day after your surgery you return to our office to have that wrap removed. Your doctor then gives you a Velcro chin strap that you wear for the following week to continue to support the neck area. Depending on how you are healing, your doctor advises you on how often you need to wear the strap. You will have mild swelling and perhaps some bruising that can last for several days. You may feel tightness or tingling, and different sensations including pulling which is normal. You also may experience numbness. These are all very normal in the first few weeks to a few months following surgery and should not be cause for concern. Most patients return to work within a week or so, again, depending on how well you are healing. You should not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a few weeks. Your doctor will closely monitor you and let you know when you can introduce exercise back into your daily routine.
Terms to Know
Platysma – Neck muscles
Cervico – prefix meaning neck.
Plasty – suffix meaning to mold, graft, or form a specified part, especially a part of the body; as in platysmaplasty or cervicoplasty.
How should I prepare for a neck lift?
You should be in good general health, both physically and mentally, and have realistic expectations about your result. If you are a smoker, you need to abstain from smoking for at least two weeks prior to and after surgery. Smoking delays healing and can lead to unsatisfactory scaring and possible wound problems.
Does insurance cover this procedure?
Unfortunately, like all cosmetic surgery procedures, the neck lift is not covered by insurance.
What if my neck really isn’t that bad, is there another procedure that may be better for me?
PrecisionTx laser contouring for the neck and jowls may be an option for you. Call and schedule your complimentary cosmetic consultation. Let our plastic surgeon meet with you, discuss your concerns, and propose a procedure that he thinks will best suit your needs and give you the result you want.
At what age can a neck lift be performed?
Generally speaking, there is no perfect age for a neck lift. It can be performed on younger people as well as older people.
What’s important to most doctors is the condition of the neck and the patient’s overall health. If there is extra skin or fat around the neck, then the patient will have good reason for the procedure. There is no right age. Some young people have neck lifts to fight the necks they were born with, others to fight the effects of aging. It’s certainly not a procedure strictly for older people. The health of the patient is also a factor. You must be in good health to have this procedure done.
While there is no perfect age for a neck lift, the body’s condition may also be a factor. Your heredity traits, skin type, lifestyle choices, and bone structure will also impact how well the surgery goes. If you smoke or tan regularly, then this procedure may not be for you.
Even if there is no perfect age, do not feel like you need to wait until you are much older. The problem will have advanced significantly, and the surgery may be more complex.
When will I be able to see the results?
The recovery time of a neck lift is a little less than a face lift, but it still takes a few weeks to really see the results. Within a few months, you won’t see the scars, and no one will be able to tell you had a neck job at all.
Following the procedure, you will see swelling and bruising around the neck. This is completely normal, and it will get a little worse before it gets better. This usually takes about two days. During that time, you will be icing your face for the complete 48-hour period. Afterwards, you will be allowed to take off the bandages and take a shower. Though you should be careful, you can wash your hair.
After about five to seven days, you will come back to your doctor and have your stitches removed. If you’ve been diligent about cleaning them with hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment, then you shouldn’t have any problems.
One week after surgery, you will be allowed to go back to work and return to your normal life. Most of the swelling and bruising will go away one to two weeks after the surgery. By then, you’ll have that youthful, rejuvenated look about you once more.