Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Brian Cripe describes what patients can expect before and after neck lift surgery
Unlike other areas of the body, the neck doesn’t tend to age gracefully. It’s common for the lower face and neck to sag, droop, and accumulate stubborn deposits that don’t respond as well to diet and exercise as we age. Neck lift procedures can dramatically change a patient’s face and profile by accentuating their jawline, removing excess fat, and tightening drooping skin in the lower face and neck.
In this article, I’ll discuss how I approach neck lift surgery, patient candidacy, the surgical procedure, recovery expectations, and what to look for when selecting a plastic surgeon to perform your neck lift procedure.
What Is Neck Lift Surgery?
During neck lift surgery, also known as a lower rhytidectomy procedure, plastic surgeons rejuvenate and sculpt the jawline and neck. In doing so, we create a more youthful appearance by treating:
- Double chins.
- Sagging neck skin.
- Excessive wrinkles in the neck.
- Fatty deposits or jowls around the mouth.
- Undesired fat deposits in the lower face, under the chin, and neck.
Neck lifts can make patients look instantly younger by restoring youthful, strong contour lines.
The procedure is performed under anesthesia, and the whole procedure usually takes less than two hours. First, we make small, discreet incisions around the back of the ears and into the hairline. Through these tiny openings, we remove or redistribute fat deposits in the jowls or neck. Next, we may tighten the platysma muscle and trim excess neck skin. In patients who want to sculpt their jawline or reduce the appearance of a double chin, we may make another incision under the chin before removing excess fat or skin. Finally, we close the skin with sutures.
As plastic surgeons, we are highly trained in incision closure and analyze each patient’s surgical goals and anatomy to yield the best results. Neck lift incision scars are often not noticeable, because they are hidden by the shape of the ear and hairline.
Am I A Good Candidate For A Neck Lift?
In general, I like to do neck lift surgery on patients who are healthy, nonsmokers, and who don’t have any medical conditions that could impair wound healing. Neck lifts can be performed independently or as part of a facelift procedure, depending on the patient’s goals and anatomy. Everyone ages differently. Some patients have youthful faces but want to reduce signs of wrinkling and sagging in their necks or accentuate their jawline. When patients want to rejuvenate more than just their lower face and neck all at once, I usually advise them to consider a full facelift.
Non-Surgical Neck Lift Techniques
Sometimes patients ask me about “nonsurgical neck lifts.” While real neck lifts can only be performed surgically, there are some non-surgical options that may help slow down signs of aging in the neck.
For example, we can use a fractionated laser or infrared laser to help rejuvenate aging skin in the neck. We may also inject botox into the neck’s vertical muscle bands to help reduce wrinkling or apply dermal fillers to address sagging and areas that have lost volume due to aging. Microneedling treatments may also help stimulate collagen production and rejuvenate aging skin. At Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona, we offer each of these non-surgical neck lift techniques to our clients.
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Many patients feel ready to return to work within one or two weeks, and see final results within six weeks. I generally advise patients to abstain from vigorous exercise for two to four weeks after surgery.
Here are some other key aftercare instructions I tell my neck lift patients to help ensure a healthy recovery period and optimal results:
- Incision Aftercare: Following surgery, we may apply steri-strips along the incision to help protect the wound. Patients should keep the incision area clean, and we may prescribe an antibiotic ointment to apply on the incisions for the first week. Sometimes we’ll use dissolvable stitches. If we use removable stitches, we’ll bring you back in a week after surgery to remove those.
- Medications: We prescribe pain medications and antibiotic ointment.
- Support Garment: We provide patients with a support garment to wear continuously for the first week and at night for the next three weeks.
- Scar Massage: At two weeks, we may advise patients to gently massage their scars to help stimulate wound healing.
- Laser Treatments: If we want to achieve further skin tightening, we may perform additional laser treatments to the lower face and neck areas after the incisions have healed.
- Sleeping: I recommend patients rest in a comfortable position with their heads elevated.
- Bathing: Neck lift patients can shower 24-48 hours after surgery, but they shouldn’t submerge their neck and face in water for four weeks.
- Exercise: Non-strenuous activities, like walking, are fine to resume right away based on how the patient is feeling. We recommend avoiding vigorous, high-impact exercise for two to four weeks.
As with any other surgical procedure, if a neck lift patient notices increased redness, discharge, or intensifying pain near their incision, then we want them to call us right away.
Book Your Neck Lift Consultation Today
We’d love to bring you in for a neck lift consultation. Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons and experienced providers at Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona can answer your questions and discuss which procedural approaches would be best suited to meet your goals.