Neck lift surgery, also known as a lower rhytidectomy, is fast becoming popular with patients who want to improve the appearance of their necks but aren’t ready to commit to a full facelift. Its growing popularity stems from the fact that aging affects the area around the jawline much earlier than other parts of the body. Because the neck is so close to the face, even the smallest imperfections are very noticeable and leave a lasting impression on others.
The skin on our neck is fragile and is far more susceptible to environmental aggressors, weight fluctuations, and the aging process than skin found elsewhere on the body. Signs of aging in the neck include the turkey wattle, excess fat, flaccid skin, dark spots, and unsightly neck contours (also known as muscle banding).
A lower rhytidectomy improves the appearance of the neck by restoring firmness. This is done by lifting the underlying muscles of the neck and removing excess skin and fat. A neck lift may also be performed in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction and cheek lift surgery. It can also be performed as a standalone procedure.
Neck lift procedures can be accomplished using various techniques, depending on the patients’ physical and aesthetic concerns. Preoperational consultations will help determine the best course of action and will minimize complications. Among other things, your doctor will interview you to understand your specific concerns and objectives. He will also perform a thorough medical exam and assessment of your medical history to ascertain your fitness for the procedure.
General or local anesthesia will first be administered to ensure your comfort. Afterwards, the incisions will be made. The location and length of the neck lift incisions will be determined by the level of change you’d like to see. The two most common approaches are the traditional incision and the limited incision.
Traditional Neck Lift Incision
A traditional neck lift incision typically starts at the hairline (at the same level as the sideburn) and progresses into the area around the ears, stopping at the posterior hairline. Plastic surgeons perform this incision on patients who desire major changes. This kind of incision may be accompanied by liposuction if deemed necessary to remove unwanted fat on the neck and chin. Fat may also be sculpted or redistributed to more strategic places.
Your surgeon will then reposition tissues and muscles to add depth and contour before redraping your skin in a tighter fashion. Finally, excess skin is removed and the incisions are stitched or patched up using skin adhesives.
Limited Incision Neck Lift
A less intrusive option would be the limited incision. This approach involves isolating the cuts to just pass around the ear. However, as the name suggests, since the incisions are limited, the results won’t be as effective.
It’s in your best interest to plan your neck lift recovery period well so that you can avoid strenuous activities for the first 10 to 14 days following the procedure. As for the scars, they can take up to 12 months to fade.
What Sort of Pains are Anticipated?
Swelling, numbness, tingling, and bruising are the usual postoperative side-effects of a neck lift procedure. You may also feel tightness around your neck and some soreness. Fortunately, these side effects are fleeting and should gradually reduce in intensity.
How to Take Care of Your Newly Lifted Neck
Right after the operation, your doctor will carefully place a bandage over your face and neck to act as a compression garment to reduce swelling. If fluid builds up around the surgical site, drainage tubes may be installed to clear it out. Should the pain be too unbearable for you to handle, ask your doctor for appropriate pain relievers and never attempt to self-medicate, as this may trigger unwanted reactions that may hinder the healing process or even cause damage.
Contrary to what your instincts might tell you, you should never dry out your incision wounds or let it crust over. Ask your doctor for hydrating creams or ointments to prevent scarring and infections. You should also set up a “recovery station” at home to keep your prescribed medications, ointments, bandages, and monitoring devices accessible.
To speed up the recovery process, you should minimize stress and avoid consuming alcohol and cigarettes. Lastly, remember that the results of a neck lift procedure can be long-lasting if you maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid weight gain.
When to Visit Your Plastic Surgeon
Follow-up consultations are a must after any surgery, and neck lifts are no exception. Report any concerns to your doctor and allow him to monitor the progress of your recovery.
You should also be on the lookout for unusual bodily reactions such as:
- Prolonged numbness or swelling
- Excessive and persistent bleeding
- Skin irregularities or discoloration
- Fluid build-up
- Odd odors emanating from the surgical site
If you happen to experience any of the above-mentioned unwanted bodily reactions, contact your doctor immediately.
What are the Benefits of Neck Lift Surgery?
Neck lift surgery gives people the opportunity to rejuvenate their appearance and boost their self-confidence. This procedure can eliminate sagging skin, reshape the jawline, smooth out wrinkles, and give patients a slimmer, more youthful profile.
When successfully implemented, a lower rhytidectomy can give patients the confidence to embrace new career and relationship opportunities, as well as feel better about themselves everytime they look in the mirror.