A neck lift is a set of procedures used to enhance the appearance of your neck. Cervicoplasty is the procedure used to remove excess skin. Platysmaplasty removes or alters neck muscles. Your surgeon also can perform neck liposuction, which removes excess fat. In some cases, Botox® injections are used in patients who have fullness or “bands” in the neck.

How is a neck lift performed?

Typically, the procedure will last two to three hours. Of course, if you are having a neck lift in conjunction with liposuction, face lift, browlift, or other surgeries, the time will vary accordingly. Your exact procedure will depend on your desired results and your personal circumstances. In order to undergo a neck lift, you must be in good general health, both physically and mentally. What do you dislike about your neck? Be honest with yourself! You are putting a lot of time and effort into researching the surgery, so make sure you get the results you want. Write down your thoughts on what you would like to correct and have that with you at the time of your preoperative consultation.

Are there different kinds of neck lifts?

If you have weakened or loose neck muscles, this may cause the “turkey wattle” or appearance of neck “bands.” To correct this, your surgeon may recommend platysmaplasty surgery. The surgeon makes incisions under your chin or behind your ears (or both) to access the platysma (neck muscle) and manipulate it accordingly. Sometimes, the surgeon must remove some muscle to achieve the desired result. Your surgeon may also use permanent sutures to hold the tissue in place.

New, less-invasive procedures allow the surgeon to make smaller incisions and use an endoscope (small camera attached to a thin tube) to perform your surgery. 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 remain asleep during the procedure, you should request general anesthesia. Otherwise, your surgeon can use local anesthesia with sedation. It is up to you. 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. The injections are completed on an outpatient basis and typically can be completed within fifteen minutes.

Excess fat?

During liposuction, your surgeon will make a small incision below the chin and remove the excess fat. If you are undergoing multiple procedures during your neck lift, it is common for plastic surgeons to begin with liposuction. If this is the only procedure you require, you should plan to spend up to an hour undergoing the operation. You will be able to determine this with your doctor during your preoperative consultation. Your incisions will be stitched and bandaged. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions on properly caring for the stitches and bandages in the days following surgery.

Too much skin?

Similar to platysmaplasty, your surgeon will make similar incisions for a cervicoplasty, trimming parts of the skin, lifting it into place, and securing it with tissue glue or stitches. The cervicoplasty can be completed in about two to four hours, depending on the complexity of your procedure. Again, your 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 one week, unless instructed otherwise. It is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions to ensure proper recovery.

How should you prepare for a neck lift?

During your consultation, your surgeon will instruct you on what medications to avoid prior to your surgery. Certain medications and vitamins thin your blood and can cause increased bleeding. If you are a smoker, you will need to quit at least two weeks before the surgery to ensure proper healing. Also, this is no time for a diet: eat properly because this will help your body heal. Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of surgery, including a button-down blouse or shirt that does not have to be pulled over your neck or head. Plan to take at least one week off from work to recover; however, your doctor can determine this based on your personal situation. If you are having platysmaplasty, cervicoplasty, or a combination of procedures, set up a home recovery area before you undergo surgery.

Recovery takes time and it is important that you are patient with the process. Most people can return to work in ten to fourteen days. If you participate in sports or are physically active, you will have to wait at least three weeks to resume those activities. Do not rush! It is not worth it. You have put a lot of time and energy into your surgery, so make it worthwhile.

What are the complications and side effects of neck lift surgery?

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. These are all normal in the first few weeks following surgery and should not be cause for concern. As with any surgery, infection is always a risk. Keep a watchful eye on your temperature. At the first sign of a fever, contact your doctor. If you have unusual discharge from the incision site, such as pus, contact your doctor immediately. Although it is rare, you could have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. It is important to disclose any drug allergies to your doctor in a preoperative consultation.