A neck lift procedure focuses on removing excess skin and fat around the jawline and tightening neck bands to create a contoured and youthful neck. Skin laxity often impacts the neck and eyelid area before any other region on the face.
A neck lift is often chosen by patients who notice some mild sagging, wrinkles, or jowls that cause moderate concern but who may not need a facelift.
Since the neck contains thinner skin than the face, lines and wrinkles form more easily in the neck region. With age, the body produces decreasing amounts of collagen and elastin, which are proteins essential for maintaining the skin’s architecture and appearance. As a result, the skin begins to lose its thickness, firmness, and elasticity. It starts to become thinner, looser, and has more wrinkles.
Additionally, the skin of the neck is more prone to sagging due to gravity with aging because the neck muscles are weaker than those of the face. The neck may, therefore, show signs of aging before any other part of the face.
A neck lift may be desirable if you have excess skin under your chin (turkey gobbler deformity) or excess fat in the neck area.
In most cases, these conditions are caused due to aging. However, it can also be caused by weight gain or weight loss, genetics, unprotected exposure to the sun, smoking, and poor nutrition.
Although many people focus on addressing the effects of aging on the face, the neck and décolletage area are some of the most overlooked areas in skin care routines. These areas are susceptible to the same signs of skin aging that occur on the face - and, in fact, skin damage tends to appear more noticeably and quickly here when compared to other parts of the body.
The neck area is not only very delicate, but can also become very dry because the skin produces less oil here. Some of the most common cosmetic concerns people have about this area include dryness, severe wrinkling, including jowl lines, double chin, and “turkey wattle” loose skin.
Cosmetic surgery may be necessary to address more severe signs of aging in the neck and jawline areas, while modest changes can require only minimally invasive procedures.
Patients may be considered ideal candidates for a neck lift if they:
- Are in good health and do not have any underlying medical conditions that could impair healing
- Are bothered by signs of aging in the neck region
- Do not have allergies to anesthesia or certain medications that could make the healing process challenging
- Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations about what can be achieved with neck lift surgery
- Have a mismatch in the aging and appearance of their face and neck
- Do not have severe jowls or cheek sagging that would need to be corrected with a facelift
- Do not have very thin skin
A neck lift is a general term for the surgery on the neck that can involve removing loose skin and contouring excess fat that creates jowls and submental fat that contributes to a double chin. Liposuction is the most commonly used procedure for this purpose.
It should be noted that while the results of a neck lift are long-lasting, it doesn’t stop the aging process.
As with other facial surgeries, the neck lift involves incisions that are used to tighten underlying muscles and remove excess tissue. Neck lift incisions are usually placed below the chin and behind both ears. Proper postoperative care will ensure a very faint, inconspicuous scar.
When a problem with hanging jowls is the primary concern, a less intensive variation of the facelift, known as an S-lift, may be performed. It is a type of mini-facelift that is useful in the case of mild to moderate face and neck sagging.
The procedure offers restoration of a more youthful and refreshed appearance using a less-invasive technique. Unlike the larger incisions of a traditional facelift, the S-lift involves shorter incisions shaped like an "S."
The incisions are placed around the ear, allowing Dr. Greco to remove a small amount of skin and provide limited elevation for the SMAS (superficial muscular aponeurotic system) layer, which can be pulled laterally and superiorly to create a smoother jawline.
Anterior cervicoplasty is another surgical variation for the neck lift. It is designed specifically to address a "turkey gobbler" deformity - caused by lax muscles, sagging skin, and excess fat on the neck. These loose tissues can create a look identified as a turkey wattle.
Unlike a neck lift or facelift, which involves incisions to the side of the face, anterior cervicoplasty uses incisions made directly on the front of the neck. After limited liposuction and removal of excess skin in the center of the neck, loose neck muscle bands are tightened to create a youthful chin and neck angle.
Non-surgical options for improving the appearance of the neck can include:
- Botox Injections address problems “bands” in the neck
- Filler injections can improve “Tech Neck” (horizontal creases)
- Laser Skin Treatments
- Fractionated CO2 laser stimulates collagen growth
- Skin-rejuvenation techniques improve texture and pigmentation of the skin
- An injectable technique that targets fat beneath the chin
- Micro-injuries to the skin stimulate collagen production
Although non-surgical options cannot provide long-lasting results like surgical procedures, they can provide beautiful, noticeable results. Treatment is generally spread over 1-6 treatments scheduled at 4-6 weeks intervals with occasional maintenance therapy thereafter.
A neck lift is performed under MAC (twilight) anesthesia.
After surgery, you may notice some bruising, swelling, numbness, or tightness around the neck, ears, and jawline. Using a cold compress can bring some relief from the swelling.
The bruising usually subsides within four to seven days. However, it is normal for the neck tightness and numbness to persist for several months. During the recovery period, remember to protect your skin from the sun and avoid wearing clothing that needs to be pulled over your head. Be gentle with your surgical incisions.
It is recommended that you have a family member or friend stay with you for the first 24 hours post-surgery.
Dr. Timothy Greco is Philadelphia’s leading facial plastic surgeon, skilled at all types of cosmetic procedures that help counter the effects of aging. He is double board-certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) and the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery (ABOto).
Dr. Greco focuses solely on plastic and reconstructive surgery of the face, head, and neck at his in-office, state-certified aesthetic surgical center. If you're looking for a younger, fresher appearance customized to your facial structure, Dr. Greco can help!
Get in touch today to schedule a consultation with Philadelphia’s leading facial plastic surgeon. For appointments, call (610) 664-8830 or check the doctor’s schedule online.