Neck Lift – Lower Rhytidectomy

Neck Lift

Lower Rhytidectomy

A neck lift, or lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the jawline and neck.

What is a neck lift?

A neck lift, or lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the jawline and neck, such as:

  • Excess fat and skin relaxation in the lower face that creates jowls
  • Excess fatty deposits under the chin
  • Loose neck skin
  • Muscle banding in the neck, which created abnormal contours

The loss of youthful contours in the face and neck can be due to a variety of factors, including heredity, gravity, environmental conditions, and stress.

Some people feel they are not ready for a full facelift because the upper face is still pleasing. However, many patients will note excess wrinkling of the neck skin, a “turkey wattle” or double chin, and jowl lines.

When the neck area doesn’t match the upper facial appearance, a neck lift may be a good solution.

Rejuvenation procedures that can be performed in conjunction with a neck lift are: a brow lift, to correct a sagging or deeply furrowed brow, fat transfer, to add fullness to the lips and cheeks and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, or eyelid surgery, to rejuvenate aging eyes.

What neck lift surgery won’t do

As a restorative surgery, a neck lift does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the aging process.

A neck lift can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results, but may help delay the time at which a neck lift becomes appropriate and complement the results of surgery.

Neck lift candidates

In general, good candidates for a neck lift include:

  • Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that impair healing
  • Non-smokers
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations

Some people feel they are not ready for a full facelift because the upper face is still pleasing. However, many patients will note excess wrinkling of the neck skin, a “turkey wattle” or double chin, and jowl lines.

When the neck area doesn’t match the upper facial appearance, a neck lift may be a good solution.

Neck lift risks and safety

The decision to have a neck lift is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals, and if the risks and potential complications of a neck lift are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.

Neck lift surgery risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss along the incisions
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Rare nerve injury that could cause weakness of the lower lip
  • Fluid accumulation (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Skin irregularities and discoloration
  • Skin loss
  • Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation and require removal
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Persistent pain
  • Poor wound healing
  • Rare risk of deep venous thrombosis with cardiac or pulmonary sequelae
  • Unsatisfactory results which may require revisional surgery

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Neck lift procedure steps

A neck lift procedure includes the following steps:

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

Depending on the degree of change you’d like to see, your neck lift choices include a traditional neck lift incision or a limited incision neck lift.

A traditional neck lift incision often begins in the hairline at the level of the sideburn, continues down and around the ear and ends in the posterior hair. Fat may be sculpted or redistributed from the jowls and neck. The tissue underlying the neck skin is repositioned, and commonly the platysma muscle is tightened. Skin is redraped over the uplifted contours and excess skin is trimmed away. A separate incision under the chin is often necessary for liposuction of this area and for repair of the muscle. Sutures or skin adhesives close the incisions.

A limited incision neck lift may involve incisions only around the ear. While the incisions are shorter, the results may be more limited.

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Incision lines are closed with sutures and perhaps skin glue. Sutures may be dissolving, or may need to be removed after a few days. Once healed, the incision lines from a neck lift are usually well concealed within the hairline and in the natural contours of the ear.

Step 4 – See the results

The visible improvements of a neck lift appear as swelling and bruising subside. Your final neck lift result should not only restore a more youthful and rested appearance, but also help you feel more confident about yourself.

Neck lift recovery

During your recovery from neck lift surgery, a bandage could gently be placed around your face and neck to minimize swelling and bruising when your procedure is completed.

A thin tube may be present to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect under the skin.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

It is important to keep your head elevated above your heart to minimize swelling and to keep your head straight (no excessive twisting or bending of the neck). DO NOT APPLY ICE to the neck as this can compromise blood flow and result in skin death.

Be sure to ask your neck lift surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
  • When will they be removed?
  • Are stitches removed? When?
  • When is it safe for me to drive?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Neck lift results

As you begin to evaluate your neck lift results, please remember that it may take several weeks to months for swelling to fully dissipate and up to six months for incision lines to mature.

Life-long sun protection and a healthy lifestyle will help extend the results of your rejuvenated, more youthful appearance.

As swelling and bruising subside, the visible improvements of a neck lift appear. Your final result should not only provide a more youthful and rested appearance, but also help you feel more confident about yourself.

Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

Following your plastic surgeon’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.

It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Avoid wearing any clothing that must go over your head. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

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