Neck Lift (Rhytidectomy)

Neck Lift (Rhytidectomy) Along with our faces, our necks show signs of aging in time. Our skin can not resist to the gravity anymore and start to get saggy. Also some genetic factors, external factors and stress can cause your skin to sag. Wrinkles, loosened muscle tissues, a turkey waddle and fat can make your neck look old. That is not as bothering as seeing those on your face, but still, people may not like the way their necks look. For those kind of people, neck lift (also called lower rhytidectomy), which is a facial plastic surgery type, is suggested.

With a neck lift surgery, you can get rid of the fat that causes jowls to form, the fat under the chin and the loosened skin tissue on your neck. Those patients who do not think that their upper face look old enough to get a full face lift surgery can consider having a neck lift. It is good to keep in mind that, the neck lift surgery do not change one’s main appearance and does not stop aging.

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When You Should Consider Having A Neck Lift

The skin on our neck is one of the thinnest on our body. As we get old, our skin gets even thinner and thinner. So, it would be better to have a neck lift surgery before you get too old. Not because the thin skin is inoperable, but working with relatively thicker skin tissue is easier and has lower chance to cause any complications during the surgery or in the recovery period. Other than that,  having a turkey wattle that causes you to appear older than you actually are, a neck with too much fat, a lost jaw line due to the sagging or the fat mass of the neck, and general saggy and wrinkly look are signs that you can consider having a neck lift surgery.

The Consultation Process

During the consultation appointment, your surgeon will evaluate your situation and you will have the chance to explain what you want and ask questions to your surgeon. After the evaluation, the surgeon will explain what can a neck lift surgery change on your appearance. You should let your doctor know about your former surgical operations, medical conditions, allergies, usage of alcohol or smoke, and if you are, the medication you are currently on. The surgeon can analyze and measure your face, take some photographs (you can use them for comparison after the surgery and recovery period), explain the risks and decide the type of anesthesia to use. You should make sure you totally understand all the procedure and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask to your surgeon.

You can ask the surgeon about;

  • If the results you want are realistic
  • The type of anesthesia that will be used
  • The costs
  • The risks
  • Side effects
  • Before and after photos about the procedure
  • What will happen if the results does not satisfy you

Risks To Take Into Consideration

As neck lifts are surgical procedures like any other surgeries, it has some risks that you should keep in mind. However, these risks occur rarely, and still, you should sign a consent form before undergoing the surgery so as to guarantee that you understand and accept the risks and the procedure. Some of the potential risks of a neck lift opreation are:

  • Bleeding in abnormal amounts
  • Hematoma (blood accumulation under the skin)
  • Infections
  • Complications about anesthesia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Hair loss around the incision scars
  • Swellings that take too long to heal
  • Changes in skin color
  • Numbness
  • Asymmetric facial features
  • Results that do not fulfill the expectations of the patient or necessiate further procedures
  • Tightness in the neck

As stated above, the chance of ocurring of these risks are low, but you should still be careful. Following the instructions given by your surgeon will minimize the chance of encountering a complication.

Preparation For A Neck Lift Surgery

A neck lift procedure does not have a complex preparation. Beforehand, the surgeon may ask for a presurgical evaluation. You may need to use certain medication to prepare your skin for the surgery. Along with following the instructions, your surgeon will probably ask you to stop smoking at least six weeks before the surgery to make the recovery process easier. Also, you should not take Aspirin, certain drugs and medication to avoid abnormal bleeding. On the other hand, it is good to stay hydrated  and eating a healthy diet to both make skin healthier and recovery easier. You should also arrange someone to take you to and from the hospital or the surgical center as you will be on local or general anesthetic and will not be able to drive.

Neck Lift Procedure Step By Step

Along a neck lift procedure, usually these steps are followed;

Anesthesia: The surgeon decides what type of anesthesia will be used (local anesthesia or general anesthesia) and the procedures will start with the anesthesia so the patient will not feel any pain during the surgery.

Incisions: There are two types of incisions for a neck lift. A traditional neck lift incision starts from the sideburn area, continue around the ears, and end near the hair on the neck. A limited neck lift incision goes only around ears. As there are less incisions in the latter, the results will be so. The incisions are located in places that will be camouflaged when they are healed.

Repositioning and Tightening of Fat, Tissues and Muscles: The fat will be sculpted or removed from the neck and jowls if necessary. The underlying tissue will be repositioned and the plastyma muscle will get tightened during this step.

Trimming the Excess Skin: After doing the necessary tightening and repositioning, the excess parts of the tissue gets removed.

Closing the Incisions: Using sutures and skin glue, incisions get closed. The surgeon may use self dissolving sutures or the ones that need to be removed afterwards. Additionally, skin adhesives may be used to speed up the recovery process. Once the incisions are healed, the scars will be camouflaged with the natural folds and lines of the body.

Recovery Period: When the swellings and bruises get healed, the final results of your neck lift surgery will be obvious. If the surgeon has used normal sutures rather than self dissolving ones, a week after the surgery, they need to be removed. Your surgeon will prescribe necessary medication and pain killers to minimize your discomfort after the surgery. You can start working again between 10-14 days and start working out or exercising after three weeks. Staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet and avoiding to be exposed to the sun excessively will speed up the recovery period. Smoking, alcohol usage, heavy houseworks and staying in steamy places like saunas or bathes may slow down the recovery process.

Postoperative Period

After the procedure, your face and neck can be wrapped with gauze to avoid or minimize the swelling and bruising. Also a thin drainage tube may be implemented to drain unnecessary fluids or blood from the skin. Your surgeon will give instructions to you about how you should take care of the operated area and the tubes while avoiding infections, and prescribe necessary medication to help the healing process and minimize discomfort. You will also be informed about normal side effects and symptoms that you can encounter and how tho handle them. In order to avoid or minimize the oedema and swelling, you should keep your head up, above your heart level, and you should not twist your neck. Also applying cold compress to the operated area is not suggested as it can affect the blood flow. How long the recovery period will take varies from patient to patient but it is generally around three weeks. In order to avoid accidents and complications, make sure that you learn;

  • Is it safe for you to drive a car after the surgery
  • Will the stitches get removed or are they self dissolving
  • When can you return to your daily routine and work
  • What kind of medication will be prescribed and how you will use them

How Much Does A Neck Lift Surgery Cost?

The total cost of the procedure varies according to the range of the surgery and additional costs. In United States, the average cost for a neck lift surgery is 5000 Dollars. In Europe, the costs vary from 4000 Dollars to around 11000 Dollars. Surgeons may charge different costs for the same procedure as their experiences are different. The neck lift surgery is generally not covered by health insurance plans as it is a cosmetic surgery and is based on the patient’s desire. Also, these costs do not include hospital fees, anesthesia cost etc. So expect to have a more expensive bill than the numbers mentioned above.

What Are The Differences And Similarities Between A Neck Lift And A Face Lift Surgery?

Both face lift and neck lift surgeries concentrate on the upper body. In spite of the fact that both have similar procedure steps, their main focuses are on different points as we can infer from their names. A face lift surgery’s main focus is on the mid and lower face, while a neck lift surgery’s coverage area starts under the chin and jawline. A face lift takes care of the cheeks, jawline and mouth, whereas a neck lift takes care of the muscles of the neck. In the result of both procedures, the patient achieves a less wrinkled and smoother skin, a rejuvenated look and gets rid of saggings and jowls. Also in the result of a neck lift, the patient will have gotten rid of the turkey waddle and the double chin.

Combining A Neck Lift and A Face Lift Surgery

As the neck and the face are naturally unified, the results of the surgeries done on those areas affect each other. A successful face lift can cause the neck to look better and a successful neck lift can have the same effect on the face as well. The combined surgeries are suggested to achieve a more inartificial look. Having a face lift only may cause your neck’s old look pop out and vice versa. The main reason of combining those procedures is to avoid dissatisfaction of patients. After the procedure, even though the face or the neck is operates, the patient can still perceive himself or herself as older because this time, the unoperated area will offend the eye. If you are considering to have a neck lift consider also having a face lift in combination. The results will probably exceed your expections.

Results of A Neck Lift Surgery

First of all, you should be aware that, it may take time (it may vary between a couple of weeks and months) for swellings to completely go down. So do not rush evaluating your results and disappoint yourself. When the swellings and bruises fully heal, the obvious results and enhancements of your neck lift surgery will be seen. Your will look younger and happier as you will be satisfied with your results. In some rare cases however, the desired look may not be achieved even after the recovery and another surgery may be necessary. Once fully healed, normally, the results of the surgery should be long lasting if you take care of your skin and general health well.  Following the surgery, you should keep in touch with your surgeon to get evaluated and to get help if you encounter any complications.

The Psychologic Effects Of A Neck Lift Surgery

Since our childhood, looking good and being liked has an importance on our lives. As we get old, our skin keeps reminding us with jowls, wrinkles, etc. Although it should not bother us as it is a natural process and a part of the life, some people may not like looking like that. People’s perceiving their features as ugly and not liking them may affect their relationships with people, their general self esteem and daily life. So, as the person they see on the mirror will change in appearance (will look younger), people will gain their self esteem back and will feel better generally.