It’s funny, but when most people think of aging they tend to stop at their jaw. They scrutinize smile lines and crow’s feet, sunken cheeks and thinning lips, sagging eyelids, and descending brows.
But what’s going on with their neck? Due to its lack of underlying bone to support it, the neck can be one of the first areas to show extensive aging, with banding on the neck and looseness under the chin. A neck lift with Dr. Reuben or Dr. Clayton can address these issues.
What is a neck lift?
A neck lift, clinically known as a lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that targets the changes wrought by aging on the skin and muscles of the neck. Unlike a facelift, whose results can be mimicked with dermal fillers and neuromodulators in lieu of surgery, surgery is the only way to address aging issues on the neck.
Would I be a good candidate for a neck lift?
Unlike the rest of the body, the skin on the neck is truly hanging, without bone and muscle to provide support. Due to the function of the throat, the skin can’t be overly taut and constricting. If you pinch the skin on your neck you can pinch much easier than everywhere else on your body. Gravity loves this inherent looseness. That’s why sometimes a person’s face doesn’t show much aging, but his or her neck does. Wrinkling on the neck skin, neckbands, a “turkey wattle,” jowls — all of these issues point to the need for a neck lift.
Here are aging issues that can be improved with a neck lift:
- Loose neck skin
- Muscle banding
- Double chin
- Fat pockets and relaxed skin at the bottom of the face
- Fat pockets under the chin
During our long Utah winters, we usually have our neck area covered, at least partially. Then come spring and summer, sleeveless blouses and spaghetti strap summer dress suddenly show the neck aging for all to see. That’s when many patients ask us about neck lifts.
How is a neck lift performed?
At 22 Plastic Surgery, Dr. Reuben and Dr. Clayton typically use two options for our neck lift patients. The method they will use depends on your unique situation and the kind of changes you seek.
- Traditional neck lift — For a traditional neck lift, we make an incision that originates in the sideburn area and continues down below the ear, terminating in the hair at the back of the scalp. The skin is pulled away to access the fat. This is usually re-sculpted, especially in the jowl area. If there is a good deal of fat pushing down and creating a double chin, limited liposuction can be used to remove it. If necessary, a second incision may be made under the chin for better access. After dealing with the fat, next up is the platysma muscle. This muscle runs from the upper parts of the pectoral and deltoid muscles all the way up onto and around the jaw. This is the muscle that creates neck banding when it loosens. We tighten the platysma to eliminate this banding. The last step is to pull the skin back up, re-draping it, and trimming away any excess.
- Limited incision neck lift — Rather than the relatively lengthy incision required with a traditional neck lift, here Dr. Reuben or Clayton make small incisions only around the ears. Of course, the limited size of the incisions also only allows a smaller degree of tightening and repositioning.
Neck Lift Before & After
What will my recovery be like after a neck lift?
Recovery from neck lift surgery will take time. You will have elastic bandages around your lower face and neck when you return home. This will help minimize swelling and bruising. With this surgery, it’s important to keep your head elevated (a good rule to follow is to keep your head at a level above your heart), and you cannot twist your neck or bend it forward. You may think icing the area would be beneficial, but do not apply ice as this can restrict blood flow and damage skin recovery.
It’s important to try and minimize anything that elevates the blood pressure to your neck and facial areas. Doing so can impede your healing. That’s why you need to avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks.
Most patients can return to work in 10 to 14 days. Your results will be fully visible when the swelling has fully dissipated. This can take up to six months, however, so don’t expect instant gratification with a neck lift. Sports and strenuous exercises, particularly those involving any twisting of your neck, need to be avoided for at least six weeks.
Is neck lift recovery painful?
Pain after a neck lift is minimal. We prescribe pain medication, but you probably won’t feel you need it after more than a day or two. The tissues of the neck aren’t nearly as sensitive as areas such as the facial skin. These are not overly painful recoveries. As mentioned above, there is some degree of awkwardness due to the fact that you can’t turn or bend your neck, but the pain typically isn’t an issue for our patients.
What is the scarring like after a neck lift?
In most neck lifts, Dr. Reuben and Dr. Clayton will make incisions in three different locations: a small incision under the chin combined with incisions that wrap around each earlobe and terminate in the hairline. We work very hard to make these incisions very discreet. Plus, healing is such that the incisions in these areas become virtually invisible in a few months to a year.