Neck lift surgery is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your physician takes into account a number of medical factors and your personal goals for surgery before crafting a surgical approach.

The journey to neck lift surgery begins with the physician consultation. If you are contemplating surgery, call and make an appointment to discuss a neck lift. Be prepared to talk about concerns you may have over your current appearance, medical history and desired goals.

Your surgeon will evaluate your neck to determine if you would be a good candidate for neck lift surgery. Examples of considerations taken into account include:

  • Skin laxity. Skin laxity refers to how elastic your skin is and how much fat is underneath. Your surgeon takes this into account because the amount of skin laxity determines how much undermining or tightening and lifting a surgeon must do during surgery. Patients with extreme skin laxity may not be good candidates for surgery.
  • How much fat is present in the neck. Excess amounts of fat can make it difficult to smoothly contour the neck, according to Dr. James Zins, MD, Plastic Surgery Department Chair at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, in a paper published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
  • Health history. Some factors of your health history could affect your recovery, including diabetes, smoking or past reactions to anesthesia. These issues could affect your ability to successfully undergo surgery.

Neck Lift Approaches

Neck lift surgery can involve removing neck skin or fat or tightening lax neck muscles. In some instances, patients can achieve an improved appearance through liposuction only. This involves making small incisions in the neck skin, typically underneath the jaw, and inserting a cannula attached to vacuum suction that breaks up and removes excess neck fat. This surgical approach requires minimal recovery time.

However, neck lift surgery can frequently require more invasive and extensive surgery. This is the case for when your neck has a loose or banded appearance like the dreaded “turkey wattle” of loose skin. If this is your concern, a surgical approach known as platysmaplasty can help. This approach involves making small incisions underneath your jaw and possibly behind your ears. Because these incisions are in locations where the skin typically folds, the incisions should be less noticeable after you heal.

Your surgeon will then use different approaches to adjust the platysma muscle, which is the band of muscles that crisscrosses the neck. A loose or lax platysma muscle can give your neck a sagging appearance. Your surgeon can tighten the muscle, remove a portion of the muscle or place sutures to tighten the muscle to ensure the tissue stays in place. The results include a more defined jawline and skin that appears tighter.

Sometimes the reason you are seeking a neck lift is more related to excess skin on your neck. Your surgeon will use a procedure known as a cervicoplasty. This approach uses similar incisions to a platysmaplasty but instead of adjusting your neck muscle, a cervicoplasty involves removing excess skin. Your surgeon will trim away excess skin and then lift, tighten and suture it into place. As your skin heals, it appears tighter, more youthful and less saggy.

Neck Lift Surgery Recovery

The more invasive the neck lift surgery, the longer your recovery time tends to be, according to Dr. Zins.

“Recovery time after neck lift surgery is not really about pain, but more to do with bruising and swelling that may make you want to wait a few days before going out in public,” Dr. Zins says. “We tend to think of the amount of bruising and swelling that determines a patient’s recovery period.”

Dr. Zins says even the more extensive neck lift surgery approaches have patients recovering in a week or two. Following your surgeon’s instructions, such as wearing compression garments to minimize fluid buildup and swelling, can speed up the recovery process.