A neck lift addresses common concerns like ‘turkey wattle neck’, excess skin and excess fat beneath the chin and on the neck.
The procedure gets its name, platysmaplasty, from the platysma muscles found on each side of the neck that extend from the corner of the mouth to the upper part of the shoulder. With age, lack of exercise, poor posture and fat deposits, your platysma muscles contribute to vertical skin folds and a double chin. A neck lift procedure will tighten up the muscles, remove excess skin and fat to give you a more youthful-looking and firm neck and chin area.
This article provides you the basic information you need before making the decision to undergo neck lift surgery. You will know how the procedure is performed and what you can realistically expect as an outcome. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to neck lift surgery; nor should it be considered an alternative to a thorough and detailed discussion with your chosen facial plastic surgeon.
Successful outcomes in a platysmaplasty, as with all cosmetic surgery, are a result of teamwork and rapport between you and your facial plastic surgeon. Only your surgeon can answer questions about what specific changes may help improve your appearance.
Is Neck Lift Surgery for You?
It is essential that you go into neck lift surgery with realistic expectations. A positive attitude to surgery is essential in all procedures.
Although in some people signs of facial and neck ageing begin to appear while they are in their thirties or forties, most neck lifts are performed on those in the 40 to 70 age group. If changes to the appearance of your neck and chin make you look older than your years, neck surgery can tighten the platysma muscles and remove excess fat and loose skin.
As with all elective surgery you must be in good health at the time of surgery.
Before You Have Surgery
Choosing a facial plastic surgeon you can trust is one of the most important decisions you can make before your surgery. Your trust should be based on the verifiable qualifications and expertise of the surgeon, his or her reputation and past experience with this type of surgery. The rapport you develop with your surgeon during the initial consultation process is also very important.
When you decide to undergo cosmetic surgery, it is necessary to make a commitment to follow closely the pre- and post-operative instructions issued by your surgeon.
After examining your face and neck, your surgeon will discuss all the surgical options with you. During this consultation the surgeon will also address the risks involved with the procedure. This discussion should be an open and honest exchange of ideas between you and your surgeon, which will help establish reasonable expectations for the outcomes of surgery.
Sometimes neck lift procedures are combined with liposuction to remove excess fat and with other facial plastic surgical procedures such as a facelift, eyelid surgery or a forehead lift. Non-surgical procedures like wrinkle relaxing injections may also be combined with neck surgery to relax parts of the platysma muscles, doing away with the banded look and giving an appearance of fullness. Your surgeon will discuss these possibilities and make recommendations on what is best for your situation.
When you have made the decision to go ahead, and you and your surgeon agree on the best course of treatment, your surgeon will describe the surgical facility where your procedure will take place and explain the type of anaesthesia that may be employed.
You will be asked to provide a thorough medical history to help your surgeon take into account any medical conditions that could increase your level of risk during surgery.
As part of the informed consent process, your facial plastic surgeon will also explain to you other alternative means that are available, if any, to achieve the same outcome and inform you of the costs involved for those procedures.
Understanding the Surgery
The neck lift procedure begins with your surgeon making a small incision under your chin and other incisions possibly in front of and/or behind the ears. These allow access to the platysma and any fat deposits on your neck. The muscles can be tightened and excess fat removed surgically or via liposuction. The incisions that are made near your ears allow the surgeon to remove excess skin.
When the muscles have been tightened and excess fat has been removed, your surgeon will re-drape the skin over your neck. After all excess skin has been removed, the incisions will be closed with sutures. Some surgeons use self-dissolving sutures. If not, the sutures will need to be removed sometime after the surgery.
Neck lift surgery typically takes between two and three hours to complete.
What to Expect After Necklift Surgery
After a neck lift you may find that your surgeon has placed one or more drains under the skin to collect fluids from the surgical wounds and reduce swelling and discomfort. They will remain in place for several days. Your surgeon will tell you on how to take care of the drains until they can be removed.
Your surgeon may ask you to use a compression bandage to help keep post-operative swelling under control. This should be worn 24/7 for five to seven days. You may be asked to wear it only at night for some time longer.
Your surgeon will give you instructions about caring for yourself during the recovery period. It is important to follow these instructions closely in order to get the best results from your surgery.
Swelling and bruising are common after a neck lift, but will disappear after a few days. Any itching sensations will also go away after a while. Many patients notice some tightness in the neck area, especially when moving the face. This typically diminishes after a week or so and will completely subside in a few months.
Most people can return to work within 10 to 14 days. Although you can resume normal activities after a couple of weeks, avoid strenuous activity for at least four to six weeks after the surgery. This is because healing takes time and minimising risk in this way helps you get the best outcomes from the neck lift surgery.
If you experience anything unusual after your surgery, contact your surgeon immediately.
In general, insurance does not reimburse costs of elective cosmetic surgery. But if your surgery is performed to correct or improve birth defects or to treat traumatic injuries it may be reimbursed fully or partially.
Just to be sure, always check with your insurance plan on the specifics of coverage.
You can find accredited facial plastic surgeons who perform necklift surgery among members of the Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery.