Firmer-looking skin and a younger you — these are the results you hope to achieve after a neck lift. But don’t forget the time period between surgery and the results: recovery. Realistic expectations and taking care of yourself post-surgery can help you achieve beautiful results.

Neck Lift Recovery Immediately Following Surgery

Neck lift surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you won’t have to stay in a hospital overnight. But this does mean you should arrange to have someone pick you up from the healthcare facility and potentially stay with you for at least 24 hours because you may find you have difficulty performing daily activities after surgery.

Your physician will give you a prescription for pain medications to take to minimize discomfort following surgery. You may wish to have a friend fill this prescription when you are discharged.

Pack a bag of items that will make you most comfortable post-surgery, including:

  • Loose-fitting shirts that button up the front
  • A bathrobe or comfortable zip-up jacket
  • Underwear and loose-fitting pants
  • Slip-on shoes

You’ll also want to prepare your home as the most comfortable spot possible following surgery. Examples of items you might need at home include:

  • Gauze and towels to reduce any bleeding
  • Thermometer to measure your temperature
  • Telephone and charger within easy reach
  • Several pillows to keep your head propped up
  • Ice packs
  • Petroleum jelly or antibacterial ointment
  • Bottled water and any soft snacks or foods you do not have to chew, such as gelatin, pudding and soup

While ice packs can reduce post-surgical swelling, you must use them wisely. Always cover an ice pack with a cloth to prevent burning your neck area. Because your neck may feel numb after surgery, you may not be able to tell when skin damage is occurring. You should not apply the ice pack for more than 10 minutes at a time. Alternate your time increments to prevent skin damage.

Neck Lift Recovery Time

Neck lift surgery is not something where you’ll return to work the next day. The average neck lift recovery time takes between two and four weeks, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Depending upon your individual recovery, you may find you are able to return to work after one to two weeks.

Physical activity can place strain on your neck and increase your risk for bleeding. You will typically want to refrain from physical activity for three weeks post-surgery to maximize your recovery and minimize infection risk.

Minimizing Post-Surgical Risks

Two of the greatest risks following surgery are bleeding and blood clots. Because you will be more sedentary following neck lift surgery, it’s important to move periodically to prevent blood from pooling in your veins. This includes walking around every couple of waking hours or performing leg lifts and pointing and flexing your toes to encourage blood return.

To minimize bleeding, your physician will likely suggest you avoid blood-thinning medications and alcohol, which is a natural blood thinner. Medication examples include aspirin and ibuprofen.

When To Call Your Doctor

While you can expect some discomfort and swelling following your neck lift surgery, some symptoms can indicate an infection may be occurring. Because early intervention can reduce post-surgical complications, talk to your physician about any and all symptoms you should contact your surgeon over. This includes signs of fever, which can indicate an increasing number of bacteria. If you notice a fever, which is roughly anything above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for adults, contact your physician.

Another symptom to watch out for post-surgery includes pus or whitish-yellow drainage from your incision site. This can indicate early signs of infection.

Normal post-operative symptoms include bruising and swelling. However, if these do not seem to be healing or appear to worsen, notify your surgeon.