While neck lift surgery is associated with few complications, choosing the right neck lift candidate is vital for success. Your surgeon will make considerations based on your overall health to determine if you can achieve the results you want from your neck lift surgery.

To find out if you are the right candidate for neck lift surgery, it’s important to understand what the surgery does and does not do. Neck lift surgery is a term that can encompass a variety of surgical approaches. The surgery can help to:

  • Give you a more defined jawline
  • Remove excess and/or sagging skin
  • Remove excess fat

Aging, significant weight loss or heredity can all be contributing factors for desiring a neck lift. This cosmetic surgery is unique in that patients of all ages seek out neck lift surgery. Surgeons who perform neck lifts can use a variety of techniques, including tightening neck muscles, removing excess skin or removing excess fat to help you achieve a more youthful and/or attractive appearance.

Neck lift surgery can involve a significant amount of facial and neck bruising and swelling. The amount of recovery time depends upon the surgical approach utilized, but typically takes between 10 and 14 days. Your doctor will also recommend you wear a compression bandage around your neck and/or head to minimize post-surgical swelling for up to two weeks. While you can return to work or school after this time, your full results will take three to six months to be most noticeable.

Health Considerations for Neck Lift Surgery

Neck lift surgery requires placing you under general anesthesia. This means you will be given medications that induce a sleep-like state so you will not feel any aspect of the surgery. While this approach minimizes pain, it also poses a challenge for patients with certain health conditions, particularly hypertension or high blood pressure, according to Chad Gordon, DO, Assistant Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Clinical Director of the Facial Transplant Program at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

According to Dr. Gordon, anesthesia has the effect of lowering your blood pressure during surgery. Post-surgery, if your blood pressure starts to rise very quickly, this increases the risk for post-operative bleeding. Not only is excess bleeding discomforting, it’s also a leading cause of post-surgical infection. For this reason, your physician will consider how well controlled your hypertension is before recommending surgery.

Another factor to consider is wound healing, which is an issue if you smoke or have diabetes. Both affect your body’s ability to heal, impacting recovery time and successful results post-surgery. If you smoke, your surgeon will likely recommend you stop for at least four weeks prior to and several weeks after surgery, according to Dr. Gordon. If your diabetes is uncontrolled — you experience frequent blood sugar fluctuations or have been hospitalized for diabetes-related causes — you may not be a good candidate for neck lift surgery.

Establishing Realistic Neck Lift Expectations

Because neck lift surgery can make you appear anywhere from seven to 10 years younger, it can truly be a life-changing surgery. However, the right candidate for the surgery has realistic expectations regarding outcomes, according to James Zins, MD, Plastic Surgery Department Chair at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I find patients considering neck lift surgery are often a mature and well-versed audience in this procedure who have been seriously thinking about this surgery for some time,” says James Zins, MD, Plastic Surgery Department Chair at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. “Because the decision to undergo neck lift surgery is one that requires time, emotion and finances, which is why realistic expectations are so vital.”

To evaluate your expectations, you must have an open and honest dialogue with your surgeon. Show your surgeon photos of results you like and ask questions until you understand the procedure, approach, risks and potential results.