A neck lift, medically known as a lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure aimed at improving visible signs of aging in the neck and jawline. The procedure can effectively address issues such as excess fat and skin relaxation in the lower face that creates jowls, excess fatty deposits under the chin, loose neck skin, or muscle banding in the neck.
By removing excess skin, altering muscles in the neck, and sometimes removing or altering fat, a neck lift can provide a more youthful appearance. It’s important to note that a neck lift does not change your fundamental appearance, nor can it stop the aging process.
Candidacy for a neck lift primarily includes individuals who are in good health and have realistic expectations about the outcome. Ideal candidates typically have noticeable signs of aging in the neck and jawline, yet still have some skin elasticity and bone structure that is well-defined. During the consultation process, your surgeon will evaluate your health status, discuss your surgical goals, and examine the anatomy of your neck and face.
This evaluation will guide the development of a personalized surgical plan. It’s the perfect opportunity to ask questions about the procedure, risks, and recovery time. It’s essential to approach this consultation with honesty about your health history and lifestyle to ensure the safety and success of the procedure.
Neck Lift Procedure Details
Here are the typical details of a neck lift procedure.
The consultation for a neck lift is an in-depth discussion with your surgeon about your aesthetic goals and expectations. It is during this time that the surgeon will assess your overall health, review your medical history, and examine your neck and facial structure.
Anesthesia is a critical part of a neck lift surgery to ensure the comfort and safety of the patient throughout the procedure. There are typically two types of anesthesia used in this surgery, general anesthesia and intravenous sedation. The type of anesthesia to be used will be decided by your surgeon based on the specifics of your case, your overall health condition, and your personal comfort. General anesthesia puts you into a deep sleep during the operation, while intravenous sedation makes you drowsy and relaxed but not fully asleep.
Incisions are integral to the neck lift surgery. The length and location of incisions vary depending on the individual’s needs and the surgeon’s chosen technique. Usually, incisions start in the hairline at the level of the sideburn, continue down around the ear, and end in the posterior hair. In some cases, the surgeon may also make a small incision under the chin. Through these incisions, the surgeon can reposition or remove fat deposits, tighten muscles, and remove excess skin, resulting in a smoother, firmer neck contour. After the modifications, the incisions are closed with sutures and the area is bandaged. Your surgeon will aim to make incisions in discreet locations where scars can be easily concealed within the hairline and natural contours of the face and neck.
Muscle Tightening (Platysmaplasty)
Muscle tightening, also known as platysmaplasty, is a crucial element of the neck lift procedure. This process involves the surgeon making small adjustments to the platysma muscle, a thin sheet of muscle extending from the collarbone to the jaw, which tends to sag with age. During platysmaplasty, the surgeon tightens the platysma muscle and sutures it together to create a smooth, firm appearance. This tightening reduces the look of vertical banding and sagging in the neck, providing a more youthful contour.
Excess Fat Removal
Excess fat removal is another key component of a neck lift surgery. This is also referred to as liposuction, which is typically performed when the patient has significant fat deposits in the neck or under the chin. During this procedure, a thin tube called a cannula is inserted through a small incision. The surgeon uses this cannula to break up the fat tissue and then suction it out. This process can dramatically improve the contour of the neck and jawline, producing a more defined and youthful appearance.
Excess Skin Removal
The final step in a neck lift procedure typically involves the removal of excess skin. As we age, our skin loses elasticity and may sag, leading to an aged appearance. During this part of the procedure, the surgeon trims and carefully repositions the skin to achieve a smooth, youthful look in the neck and jawline area. The skin is then meticulously re-draped over the uplifted contours and excess skin is trimmed away.
Neck Band Correction
In some cases, patients undergoing a neck lift may require neck band correction, also known as anterior platysmaplasty. This procedure specifically addresses the neck’s platysma muscles that often cause an ‘accordion’ or ‘turkey neck’ appearance as they sag and separate. During neck band correction, the surgeon makes a small incision under the chin to access the front edge of these muscles. They are then brought together and stitched into a position that gives the neck a smoother, more youthful appearance.
The final step in the neck lift procedure is the closure of the incisions. Once all adjustments have been made, the surgeon will close the incisions with sutures. In some cases, skin adhesives or surgical tape may also be used. This step is performed with utmost precision to minimize visible scarring and ensure a natural, seamless result. Following this, a bandage may be applied around the face and neck to minimize swelling and support the new contours as they heal.
Recovery from a neck lift surgery varies from individual to individual, but there are some general stages and expectations. Immediately after the surgery, patients may experience mild to moderate discomfort, swelling, and bruising, which can be managed with prescribed pain medication.
It’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions diligently to ensure a successful recovery and optimal results. Recovery times can vary, but most patients can return to their regular activities within a few weeks to a month after surgery. It’s essential to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss your specific concerns, goals, and the details of your neck lift procedure.