In many, but not all, cases, a neck lift is done in combination with a facelift. The skin quality and amount of sagging skin differentiate the need for a neck lift from neck contouring. Neck contouring involves reducing the neck fat and tightening the neck’s thin muscular lining to eliminate neck bands without removing any skin. In this case, the patient is dependent on the neck skin shrinking over the new neck contours. In a neck lift, Dr. Mark Richards removes the excess skin through incisions behind the ears and in front of the earlobes.
Skin laxity, muscle banding, and fatty deposits are common problems associated with aging of the neck. Neck lift surgery is often combined with facelift to help improve the appearance of the neck, restoring a stronger and more attractive jaw line and reducing neck sagging. It can also correct a double chin. A receding chin can be corrected with a chin implant placed at the time of a neck lift.
Neck muscles extend from beneath the jaw down and around the neck itself. These muscles tend to weaken over time. As the muscles become softer, fat deposits begin to collect around them and the skin attached to the muscles begins to loosen and droop. These aging effects are exacerbated by excessive sun exposure, smoking, and dramatic weight gain or loss.
*Individual Results May Vary
Approaches to Neck Lift Surgery
Patients with a significant amount of loose skin and weak muscles in the neck need a full neck lift procedure. In this procedure, excess skin is removed and the remaining skin is tightened. Incisions are typically made behind the ears where they are hidden from view. Patients with good skin tone who are more concerned with fatty deposits than loose skin may be able to have a partial neck lift, or “weekend neck lift”, in lieu of the full traditional procedure. The abbreviated technique tightens the weak muscles and removes the fat without stretching and tightening the skin. When skin still has good elasticity, it simply conforms to the neck’s new shape without surgical intervention. Only three small incisions are needed — one behind each earlobe and one under the chin.
Risks Associated with Neck Lift
Every surgical procedure carries some risk, but neck lift is safe in general. Possible complications include a reaction to the anesthesia, swelling or numbness that last longer than normal, or, rarely, infection or bleeding. Smokers have a greater risk of healing problems than do nonsmokers, which is why we ask our patients to cease smoking for three weeks before and three weeks after surgery.
After Neck Lift Surgery
Dr. Richards performs neck lift under general anesthesia in an outpatient surgical facility or hospital setting. Once the procedure is complete, a small drain and a compression garment are often used to reduce swelling and stabilize the neck. Most patients can return to work one to two weeks after neck lift surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Neck Lift Surgery
Thousands of men and women receive neck lift surgery each year to improve the appearance of the neck, chin, and jawline. To help you decide if this or another procedure is best for your cosmetic goals, Dr. Richards has answered some commonly asked questions about a neck lift. If you have additional questions or are ready to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.
This procedure is designed to achieve multiple goals. If you have excess skin and fatty tissue on your neck, if your jawline is losing definition, if you have deep creases, and/or if you have a “turkey wattle,” this technique can help rejuvenate your neck for a more youthful look. In addition to having one or more of these concerns, you should also be in good general health and be a nonsmoker. If you do use tobacco, we recommend suspending your habit for at least a month before and after the surgery to optimize healing. Our board certified plastic surgeon will evaluate your needs and desired outcome during your initial consultation to determine if neck lift surgery is right for you.
Every treatment plan is customized to suit the unique characteristics of the patient. That said, most procedures will use incisions that are hidden in creases behind the ears. An incision is often hidden under the chin as well, and Dr. Richards will explain if this applies to you. Most patients experience excellent healing of the scars, and with time they should fade in color and should become virtually invisible.
Depending on whether you receive a full neck and lower face lift or a minimal incision neck lift, different techniques will be used. Liposuction is often utilized to eliminate unwanted fatty tissue in the minimal skin excision approach. This minimal technique can be expanded to include tightening of the underlying muscles to reduce the appearance of a “turkey wattle.” In a full neck lift, sagging tissue is tightened and the excess skin is trimmed away for a firmer, smoother, and more youthful-looking result that can last decades.
You should expect to take at least a week off from work and normal duties, and some patients may benefit from a slightly longer recovery—everyone heals differently, and you should listen closely to what your body tells you. Swelling, bruising, tenderness, and tightness are common, and these effects should fade with time. We will provide prescription medication to manage your pain and enhance your experience while you heal. All individuals have some areas of numbness in the treated area, and this too subsides over time. Strenuous exercise and activity should be avoided initially and modified for the first six weeks, after which normal recreation and fitness can begin again. Dr. Richards will provide additional details during your first meeting, and he and his skilled team will be available to you for any questions that may arise.
If your skin is relatively firm and has good quality, a minimal or no incision neck lift may be a better option for you than a full neck lift. No skin is trimmed in the minimal incisional procedures, but excess fatty tissue is removed and muscles may be tightened. If your primary concern is mild laxity, volume loss, and wrinkles, non-surgical skin care treatments like Viora Reaction™ may provide sufficient benefit that you can avoid an operation. Dr. Richards will review all your options with you to find the ideal approach based on your needs, goals, and lifestyle.
If you are interested in facial plastic surgery and want to see if you are a candidate for the neck lift surgery, contact the Ageless Impressions – Plastic Surgery Institute to schedule a consultation with Mark E. Richards, M.D.