A neck lift is a plastic surgical procedure that improves aging changes in the neck such as sagging skin, excess fat, and muscle bands and aims to improve the definition of the jawline. A neck lift is a standard part of most facelifts or can be performed by itself.
When to Consider a Neck Lift?
If you have one or more of the following aesthetic flaws, you may be a good candidate for a neck lift:
Pros and Cons of a Neck Lift
A neck lift improves the appearance of the jawline and neck, enhancing your facial profile and overall appearance. The procedure will reduce sagging skin, and eliminate excess fat. It leaves behind minimal scarring that should not be apparent after a few weeks and the recovery time is short. The surgery can be performed as a separate procedure or combined with other plastic surgical procedures.
In most cases, it is preferable to perform a neck lift in combination with a cheek lift. Most patients with aging changes in the neck also have some degree of jowls or sagging in the cheeks. For these patients, the best procedure will improve the jowls in the lower cheeks, improve the definition of the jawline. AND improve the appearance of the neck. In an occasional patient, especially younger patients, an isolated neck lift may be the procedure of choice.
How is the Procedure Performed?
Most facelifts are a combination of a cheek lift and a necklet, and the incisions are placed in and around the ears and under the chin. The same incisions are used for an isolated neck lift unless the patient is young, in which case the neck lift can sometimes be performed through the incision under the chin alone.
The procedure is performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia in an outpatient setting. The procedure takes 2-3 hours. Once the skin incisions are made, the skin is elevated off the underlying fat. Fat is removed from above and/or below the platysma muscle. The two platysma muscles are frequently sewn together in the midline of the neck. In some cases, a portion of the submandibular salivary glands may be removed. The skin is then redraped in a gentle fashion to avoid any pulling or tension on the face and neck. Excess skin is removed behind the ears. The incisions are closed with a combination of sutures and staples. Most surgeons leave drains in the neck for at least one night after surgery. Patients may return to normal activity including working out and sports at 3 weeks post-op.
What to Expect After a Neck Lift?
Some swelling and bruising is typical in the neck. You may also experience tightness and numbness in the operated area for several months. Although everyone who undergoes a neck lift will experience an improvement in their appearance, not all the excess skin below the chin can always be permanently removed. That depends on the age of the patient, the amount of excess skin and the skin type, and the amount of sun damage.
Possible Complications and Risks
By far and away the most common complication after a neck lift is a hematoma. A hematoma is a collection of blood. It is almost never dangerous but would take months to go away if it were not removed at the time it occurs Evacuation of the hematoma usually requires a return to the operating room, removal of some sutures, and removal of the excess blood. In most cases, the hematoma drainage does not affect the recovery time. Hematomas occur in approximately 2-3% of women and are slightly more common in men.
Consult a Plastic Surgeon
Neck lift surgery is a plastic surgical procedure that is ideally performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon with specific expertise in aesthetic surgery of the face.