What Is a Neck Lift?
A neck lift is a set of procedures to enhance the appearance of your neck. The general medical terms are lower rhytidectomy or submental lipectomy. Which specific procedure or combination of procedures you have depends on what results you’re looking for. Often, neck contouring is part of a face-lift, but it can be done separately if you're happy with the appearance of your face. Neck lift procedures can include:
- Removing excess skin (cervicoplasty)
- Removing or altering neck muscles (platysmaplasty)
- Liposuction to remove excess fat
- Botox injections to address problems with fullness or "bands"
- Kybella injections to remove excess fat under the chin
- Other neck lifting techniques involve lasers, ultrasound and radiofrequency devices, intense pulsed light, and fillers.
Why Would You Get a Neck Lift?
You'll consult with your surgeon in advance. For that meeting, have your goals in mind for what you want to change.
Some of the most common concerns that are addressed with a neck lift are:
- Turkey wattle neck
- Excess fat
- Too much skin
You have to be in good health to get a neck lift.
Neck Lift Consultation
During your consultation, you’ll go over your goals and learn about the options. You and your doctor will talk about your overall health, any medical conditions you have, and medicines and supplements you take. You should talk about the risks of the different procedures and what results you can realistically expect:
Turkey Wattle: Your surgeon may recommend surgery, which involves making cuts under your chin or behind your ears or both to access a neck muscle called the platysma. Sometimes, that may even mean removing some muscle.
Newer procedures let your surgeon make smaller cuts and use an endoscope (a small camera attached to a thin tube) to do this surgery. Make sure you ask your surgeon for all your options during your consultation.
You and your surgeon will discuss what type of anesthesia to use, depending on your level of comfort. If you want to be asleep during the procedure, you should request general anesthesia. Otherwise, your surgeon can use local anesthesia with sedation. It's up to you to make that choice.
Instead of surgery or in addition to it, Botox injections can relax parts of the platysma that are responsible for the "band" appearance or look of fullness. Those injections can be done in 15 minutes on an outpatient basis, meaning no overnight stay.
Liposuction: During liposuction, your surgeon will make a small cut below your chin and remove excess fat. If you are also getting other procedures, it is very common for cosmetic surgeons to begin with liposuction. You will be able to determine this with your doctor during your consultation.
If this is the only procedure you're getting, you should plan on the operation lasting up to an hour. Your incisions will be stitched and bandaged. It's important to make sure you understand and follow your doctor's instructions on properly caring for the stitches and bandage.
Too Much Skin on Your Neck: Your surgeon will trim parts of the skin and lift it into place, securing it with tissue glue or stitches. This takes about two to four hours, depending on the complexity of your procedure. Again, your type of anesthesia will depend on your own personal comfort level.
Your surgeon will fit you with a compression bandage that you will have to wear for at least 1 week unless instructed otherwise.
Preparing for Your Neck Lift
Your surgeon will tell you to avoid certain medications and supplements before your surgery to lower your risk of excessive bleeding.
If you smoke, you will need to quit for at least 4 weeks before the surgery and 4 weeks after. Don't just plan to cut down. Not smoking for this time period is necessary for proper healing.
Eat a healthy diet. That will help your body heal.
You should plan to take at least 1 week off from work. Ask your doctor exactly how much time off you'll need.
Set up an area in your home for recovery. The area should have:
- Ice packs
- Gauze and towels
- Supply of comfortable, loose clothing (preferably button-down shirts or blouses that do not have to be pulled over your head and neck)
- Petroleum jelly and antibacterial ointment
- Telephone within reaching distance of where you'll be lying or sitting most of the time
- Pillows that will allow you to keep your head in a comfortable position
- Someone who can stay with you at least the first 24 hours after surgery
On the day of surgery, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Wear a button-down blouse or shirt that you don't have to pull over your head and neck.
Neck Lift Risks
You’ll have some side effects in the first few weeks following surgery that are all normal and should not be cause for concern:
- Swelling and bruising can last for several days.
- You may feel tightness or tingling and different sensations, including burning or pulling.
- You also will experience numbness.
As with any surgery, infection is possible. Take your temperature. At the first sign of a fever, contact your doctor. If you have an unusual discharge, such as pus, from the surgery site, contact your doctor immediately.
Neck lift procedures have other risks, including:
- Hair loss along the incisions
- Permanent numbness
- Skin loss, puckering, or discoloration
It’s possible you won’t be happy with the results.
Recovery From a Neck Lift
Recovering from a neck lift takes time. Most people can return to work in 10 to 14 days.
If you participate in sports or are physically active, you will have to wait 3 weeks or more to resume those activities. Give yourself time to heal to get the most benefit from the procedure.
Neck Lift Cost
Be clear on what, if anything, your insurance will cover before the surgery. That way, you'll know what to expect. If your procedures will correct a medical condition, tell your health insurer before the surgery. Your surgeon can write a letter detailing your case.
With certain insurance plans, cosmetic or plastic surgery can affect future coverage. It can also affect your premiums. Make sure you ask your health insurer about that before you get the procedure, so you know what to expect.