Aging is one of those things that happens whether we like it or not, and for most people, the neck can be one of most visually aging aspects of their appearance. As time goes on, our skin’s collagen and elastin declines, causing the skin to droop and sag. The muscles become lax as well, and many people even develop folds on their necks. This whole process can be exacerbated by genetics or lifestyle choices like smoking and tanning, but eventually, it happens to even the fittest people.
Fortunately, a necklift, or platysmaplasty, can fix these problems. While it is often combined with a facelift, the necklift can also be performed on its own to tighten neck muscles and skin for a younger, smoother look. It’s a great option for people in otherwise good shape who are dissatisfied with the aging appearance of their necks.
The first step of any cosmetic surgery is a consultation with Dr. Davidson. During your consultation, you’ll discuss your concerns and goals, and Dr. Davidson will evaluate your situation and tell you what is achievable. Then he will explain the procedures available and go over your options. Many patients at this stage will wish to discuss combining a necklift with liposuction to remove excess fat or a facelift to reduce jowls, marionette lines, wrinkles, and other facial problems.
After deciding on the correct procedure for you, you and Dr. Davidson will also discuss pre-surgery precautions. Patients are encouraged to stop smoking since it can interfere with healing and to discontinue use of drugs like aspirin that can cause excess bleeding.
A necklift is usually done under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation to keep you comfortable, but general anesthesia is available as well. The procedure sometimes requires one-inch incisions under the chin to tighten up the muscles. Additional incisions behind the ears are used as well. After the incisions are made and the muscles tightened, the skin is pulled tight and excess skin is removed with incisions behind the ears. Everything is then neatly secured, and you’re off to recovery.
After surgery, your neck, jaw, and ears will be bruised and swollen for up to ten to fourteen days. You’ll be sent home with oral pain medications to deal with discomfort and an antibiotic to ward off infection. Your sutures will usually dissolve on their own.
While most people feel up to returning to a desk job within a week or so, some prefer to avoid work and social events for 2-3 weeks until the swelling and bruising is gone. The last of the swelling is usually gone within a month.
Necklifts are a safe procedure, but they do carry the same risks as any surgery: Bleeding, infection, and reaction to anesthesia. If you are concerned about these, please discuss them during your consultation with Dr. Davidson.
Necklifts also carry certain specific risks. Most patients will experience a change in sensation in the region. Feelings of tightness, tingling, pulling, and numbness are all normal for the first few weeks after surgery, but numbness can occasionally last up to or past a year. More rarely, there is a chance of skin healing problems. While most necklifts leave only faded and well-hidden scarring, a few patients will experience red or raised scars that require topical treatments.
Q. My neck skin is wrinkly but not too saggy. Will a necklift be necessary to fix this?
A. It depends on the extent of the problem. For some patients, lasers or other skin treatments will improve the skin enough that they are satisfied. For most, however, only surgery will provide the tighter, rejuvenated look that they’re after. Your best bet is to come in for a consultation so Dr. Davidson can evaluate your situation and discuss your options.
Q. Will I have to wear a chin strap after my necklift?
A. It depends on the extent of the surgery, but many patients will need to wear a chinstrap after a necklift to help support the skin and tissues while everything starts to heal. Some patients find it more comfortable to continue wearing the chin strap at night until healing is complete, while others prefer to forgo it entirely.
Q. Will a necklift improve my jawline, or will I need a facelift as well?
A. A necklift will only address the skin on the neck. That said, it is a fairly simple matter to address issues such as jowls along the jawline through a lower facelift at the same time. Since it adds very little extra time to the surgery and recovery, many patients opt to do both procedures together. Dr. Davidson will be happy to discuss the procedures and your options at your consultation.
Q. Will my results be affected if I gain or lose weight?
A. Small fluctuations in weight are normal and should not hurt anything, but larger weight changes can lead to either stretched or loose skin, either of which might require a new procedure to fix the damage. For that reason, patients should wait until they are at a comfortable, stable weight before having their necklift.
Q. Do the results last long?
A. Think of it like turning a clock back. Your neck will continue to visibly age after your necklift, but it will still look younger than if you had not had the procedure done. If you have a necklift done when you are 40 and it makes your neck look 10 years younger, then when you are 50, your neck will probably look about 40. You can help the results to last even longer by maintaining a healthy, low-stress lifestyle.