The neck lift is a cosmetic surgery procedure designed for individuals who wish to improve upon the visible signs of aging in their neck and jaw area, which usually occurs as a result of loose skin and muscle and excess fat. During the procedure, the excess fat is removed from around the jaw line and the skin is tightened in order to restore a more youthful and defined appearance to the neck. A neck lift can be performed alone or in combination with a facelift or chin augmentation in order to provide a more complete facial makeover.
Why Have a Neck Lift?
The goal of a neck lift is to improve the contour of the neck and the angle between the neck and lower jaw. Loose, hanging skin below the neck (affectionately referred to as “turkey neck” by many) can be a major concern and source of embarrassment. It is one of the areas on our body where evidence of aging is the most obvious, leading it to be one of the most common sites for cosmetic “fixes”. In addition to age, weight fluctuations can also lead to a loose or sagging neckline. For others still, genetics cause excessive fat to collect on and around the jaw area.
Fortunately, there are several procedures available that can complement and drastically transform the appearance of the neck, ranging in complexity from very minimal in-office treatments with little to no downtime, to more invasive operations which may require anesthesia and time off from work for recovery. These different approaches to a neck lift have been very successful in the past, and most patients can preserve their results long-term if they also maintain their current weight.
Neck Lift Procedures
At Plastic Surgery Chicago, LLC, Dr. Walton performs the neck lift with 3 different methods. Each one produces aesthetically pleasing results, but the best technique for the individual patient is determined with the help of Dr. Walton upon examination. Read below for further detail regarding each procedure.
The Botox Neck Lift
As we age, the platysma muscle in our necks begins to protrude and our skin becomes visibly thinner. This can eventually cause unpleasant bands to form around the front of our neck that can cause us to feel overly self-conscious. Fortunately, these unsightly bands can be softened when Botox is injected directly into the muscle. The injection causes the platysma muscle to relax; however, it does not tighten the neck skin. Botox injections are very simple and can be performed in the office without the need for anesthesia or down time. The improved results they produce can last from 3 to 4 months.
Neck Liposuction for Fat Removal
This method is particularly helpful for patients suffering from only minimal, excess fat, and can include patients that are both young and old. At all ages, the appearance of excess neck fat can detract from an individual’s appearance, making them feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Fortunately, this targeted area of fat can be carefully removed or molded with the use of liposuction or direct excision. Sometimes, these techniques are performed simultaneously to produce maximum results.
During this procedure, a small incision is made, typically below the chin, and fat is removed directly from the area. During liposuction, it may be necessary for additional small incisions to be made near the earlobes for optimal contouring of the neck to be complete.
Liposuction can be performed alone or as part of a neck lift or facelift surgery. Once the fat has been successfully removed, patients are required to wear a special elastic bandage that offers helpful neck support for about 3-4 days following the surgery. This type of fat removal can significantly improve the definition of the neck as well as accentuate the angle between the neck and jawline.
Neck Lift Surgery
The most extensive of these methods is the neck lift surgical procedure, which takes 2 or 3 hours to perform. Typically, it is done under general anesthesia, though some patients choose to have it performed under local anesthesia with mild sedation.
The neck lift surgical procedure is a 3-step process involving:
- Tightening of the platysma muscle
- Contouring of the fat
- Removal of excess skin from the neck
During the procedure, and depending on how lax the neck skin has become, the placement of the surgical incisions could vary but are typically placed around the earlobe and near the hairline in the skin behind the earlobe. Sometimes it is also necessary to make an incision below the chin.
Once the platysma muscle has been tightened and the fat contoured, Dr. Walton will gently re-drape the skin over the neck before trimming the excess skin. The incisions will be securely fastened with sutures that are to be taken out about 5-7 days following the procedure. In some patients, it is necessary for a drain to be placed to prevent blood and serum from collecting in the neck. The drain will typically be removed within 1-2 days following surgery during an in-office visit.
Post-procedure, patients are to wear a soft bulky compression dressing around the neck. It will be removed the day after surgery. Once the dressing has been removed, a lighter and more elastic bandage dressing is to be worn for the next 3-4 days in order to minimize the amount of post-operative neck swelling. It is also useful in supporting the neck during the recovery period.
Are You a Candidate?
A neck lift can significantly improve the appearance of the neck by creating more definition in the angle of the jaw. Undergoing the procedure can restore a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Ideal candidates for a neck lift are physically healthy and emotionally stable individuals aged 18 years or older who believe they could benefit from the procedure and improve upon the aesthetic appearance of their neck.
Our patients are typically between the ages of 30 and 70 and wish to address one or more of the following cosmetic imperfections:
- Excessive amounts of fat and/or skin in the neck area
- “Turkey Neck”
- Retrognathia (Weak Chin)
If you are self-conscious about any of these issues, you may be a candidate for a neck lift. However, it is important that all patients have realistic expectations before undergoing the procedure. Cosmetic surgeries aim for improvement, not perfection.
Neck Lift FAQs
How long will the procedure results last?
As long as patients maintain their weight and avoid any extremes in weight gain, the results are usually long-lasting. On average, patients can expect the results of a well-performed neck lift to last between 7 and 10 years.
What can I expect after the procedure?
Each patient will be given clear instructions that will include how to properly care for the surgical site and drains, which medications to take, and any specific concerns to watch for in regards to the surgical site or general health of the patient. During the recovery period, Dr. Walton advises his patients to wear a compression garment for several days post-procedure. It is common for patients to experience mild discomfort in the days following the procedures, though this pain can be managed with prescribed pain medication. Also, temporary swelling and the possibility of some bruising is to be expected. Patients who undergo Botox injections will require minimal to no down time, and those who receive liposuction or surgery should plan to spend about 1 week resting and healing. Most patients who undergo surgery are advised to stay home for at least 1 week following surgery and to avoid strenuous activity for at least 3 weeks. Light to moderate activity usually poses no risk.
Are there risks?
As with all procedures, there is a slight chance of risk involved, though it is very minimal. The risks associated with a neck lift are similar to those following other surgeries. The most common of these risks include hematoma (bleeding) and infection.
Other risks are uncommon. They can include but are not limited to:
- Anesthesia complications
- Temporary or permanent hair loss along the incision
- Unfavorable scarring
- Prolonged swelling
- Irregularities and/or discoloration of the skin
- Complications arising from the sutures, such as surfacing through the skin, becoming visible, or causing irritation
- In rare cases, a nerve injury that could cause the lower lip to become weak
- Despite the list, complications from cosmetic surgery can in large part be prevented by following the physician’s orders during the recovery period and by attending the recommended follow-up appointments.
How soon can I return to work?
Most patients are cleared to return to work within 10-14 days following a neck lift. Dr. Walton will determine when you are ready to resume all normal activities.
For an appointment, please call Grace at our Chicago plastic surgery office at 312-337-7795 or fill out the contact form in this page. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your image transformation here in Chicago.