What is it?
The neck can begin to show age faster than whole face and many times patients only need a neck lift, rather than a full face lift. Aging does not always determine the need for a neck lift, but rather having lost considerable weight or it may even be hereditary. Many patients choose to have a neck lift with their face lift procedure.
Neck Lift is a surgery designed to reduce the loose look of sagging skin in the neck area and under the jaw line.
Neck Lift is an operation that usually takes 2 hours to complete using a general anaesthetic and normally includes an overnight stay at the hospital.
Your expectations need to be realistic. Most patients are pleased with the outcome and find they gain a feeling of increased self-confidence especially when wearing can those more revealing clothes. The overall achievement will be having a completely natural look that gives the impressions you have lost weight and/or look younger.
Even though your neck can age before your face, Father Time is not always responsible for that appearance you'd like to undo. If you've lost a lot of weight, your neck may be taking its time to catch up. For others, it's a matter of genetics. Whatever the reason, people young and old undergo neck lift procedures all the time.
A neck lift is actually 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 may be the answer to your problems if you have fullness or "bands."
Some Uncertainty and Risk
Unfortunately, all surgery has risks and complications. With platysmaplasty, these include an allergic reaction to the anesthetic used and infection. For risks related to anesthesia - please see our Introduction To Anesthesia section. There could be asymmetry, general dissatisfaction, hematoma or seroma, lumpiness, and/or mottling of the skin. Cording, laxity relapse of the platysma and skin of the neck.
Numbness is possible, it usually subsides within the first few weeks but it may become a permanent issue. Puckering of the skin may occur and deeper than desired depressions may result. Excess scar tissue and lumps are possible as well. Please go over all risks with your surgeon at your consultation and your pre-operative appointment.
Before the Surgery
You should be given a pre-operative information packet that explains everything you should do and know before your surgery date. The packet should include a list of all the medications you should not take starting usually at 2 weeks before your surgery. These medications will include, but are not limited to, aspirin containing products, stimulants, seratonin supplements, etc. Would you like to view a typical Medication & Supplements List? We have a printer-friendly version as well. Also, if your surgeon advised that you may take Arnica montana, Bromelain, Vitamin K, etc. for swelling and bruising you should either have this in your packet or begin shopping for your necessities.
It is quite possible that you will have "blood work" performed. This is normally an extra out-of-pocket expense that the patient must participate in to check your white and red blood cell count and check for disease or disorders beforehand. If you are a female they may take an extra vial for a pregnancy test. Some surgeons ask that you have physical. This can be yet another out of pocket expense so ask at your consultation what will be needed when you are quoted a price.
So many things to do... so little time. Surgery will be here before you know it so visit the Preparing For Surgery page and relax. This section contains, printer-friendly pre-op lists, tips and advice as well as things you must do to prepare for your big day.
Typically, the procedure will last two to three hours. Of course, if you are having a neck lift in conjunction with liposuction, facelift, brow lift, or other surgeries, the time will vary accordingly. Your exact procedure will depend on your desired results and your own 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're putting a lot of time and effort into researching the surgery, so make sure you get the results you want. You also should write down your thoughts on what you'd like to correct and have that with you at the time of your pre-operative consultation.
Here are some of the most common concerns:
- Turkey wattle neck
- Excess fat
- Too much skin
Turkey Wattle -- Weakened or Loose Neck Muscles
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 and/or behind your ears to access the platysma (neck muscle) and manipulate it accordingly. Sometimes, that may even mean removing some muscle. Your surgeon may also use permanent sutures to hold the tissue in place.
There are new less invasive procedures, where your surgeon may be able to make smaller incisions and use an endoscope (small camera attached to a thin tube) to complete your 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 remain asleep during the procedure, you should request general anesthesia. Otherwise, your surgeon can use local anesthesia with sedation. It's up to you, however, to make that determination.
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 15 minutes.
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 very common for plastic surgeons to begin with liposuction.If this is the only procedure you'll need, you should plan to spend up to an hour undergoing the operation.
You will be able to determine this with your doctor during your pre-operative consultation. Your incisions will be stitched and bandaged. It's very important to follow your doctor's instructions on properly caring for the stitches and bandage in the days following surgery.
Too Much Skin?
Just like the platysmaplasty, your surgeon will make similar incisions for a cervicoplasty, trimming parts of the skin and lifting it into place.
It will be secured 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's important to follow his or her instructions to ensure proper recovery.
After the Surgery
You may be groggy from the anesthetic and or oral medications and probably won't remember much of the first day or two. You will have to take it easy and sleep on two pillows to keep your head elevated for about 14 days - or however long your surgeon suggests. A recliner is the best for this. PLEASE KEEP YOUR HEAD & NECK STILL. Do NOT turn your head from side to side. MOVE YOUR WHOLE BODY, if you must move. When you wake up you will notice that your lower face and neck will look even more swollen in the first 3 days. You won't usually be extremely swollen until late that night or the next day and then the third is by far usually the worst. But, as the days go on the swelling will dissipate. There may be a lot of bruising, but this will go away, as well. So make a mental note of this or you may be shocked into a depression. Bruising and swelling are a normal occurrence in most surgeries. Don't worry, it is all a part of the natural healing process. You shouldn't really look at yourself in the mirror, but rather have your partner or nurse care for you instead (even take photos if you wish it).
Although any discomfort should be alleviated by your prescribed pain medication if you have excessive pain, redness, pus or other symptoms that do not appear normal, contact your surgeon immediately! Take your temperature regularly. An elevated temperature could mean an infection. Take those antibiotics on time. Also, don't forget if you are a female taking birth control pills that some antibiotics can interfere so in the event that you do have relations, use another form of protection as well.
Your back will more than likely cramp up from not being able to lie completely stretched out and flat on your back so some patients prefer heating pads or hot water bottles. Remember not to sleep while using any of these devices. This can result in severe burns - especially if you are heavily medicated and don't feel the heat or pain.
Your New Look
You will have swelling and bruising that 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 very normal in the first few weeks following surgery and should not be cause for concern. As with any surgery, you run the risk of infection. Please 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's very rare, you could have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. That's why it's very important to disclose any drug allergies to your doctor in a pre-operative consultation.
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