A neck lift, which also goes by its medical name of lower rhytidectomy, is a plastic surgery procedure that reduces signs of aging on the patient’s neck and jawline. While just growing older is the most common reason for skin sagging and other common signs of aging on the neck and jawline, it can also occur due to hereditary factors, stress, and certain conditions in the environment. A neck lift is effective for the following:
- Relaxing the skin and removing excess fat on the lower portion of the patient’s face that lead to the development of jowls.
- Firming up loose skin on the neck.
- Repairing muscle banding on the patient’s neck that can cause abnormal skin contours.
- Eliminating or reducing fatty deposits underneath the chin.
Patients often choose the neck lift procedure when they want to reduce signs of aging but are not yet ready for a full face lift. A neck lift can be performed at the same time as a face lift or independently. Patients who choose to have it done as an individual procedure are usually satisfied with the appearance of their upper face. However, they want to do something about the wrinkling, excess fat, and jowls on the lower face.
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UPMC Western Maryland Plastic Surgery
12502 Willowbrook Road, Suite 460
Cumberland, MD 21502
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UPMC Outpatient Center
23789 Garrett Highway
McHenry, Maryland 21541
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What to Expect on the Day of Neck Lift Surgery
To start the procedure, the plastic surgeon provides the patient with either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. The surgeon will decide on the most appropriate form of pain relief and relaxation during the surgical consultation. Once the anesthesia or sedation is working, the surgeon makes the first incision.
With a traditional neck lift surgery, the first incision takes place on the hairline near the sideburn area. The incision continues down and around the ear and then ends in the posterior of the hair. At this point, the plastic surgeon redistributes and sculpts fat from the neck and jowls in addition to repositioning the underlying neck skin. The platysma muscle, the broad sheet of muscle fibers extending from the collarbone to the angle of the jaw, is normally tightened at this stage of the surgery as well. The plastic surgeon then drapes skin over the uplifted contours and trims off any excess. A second incision under the chin allows for immediate liposuction and muscle repair of this area.
Recovery from Neck Lift Surgery
Most neck lift surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. On average, patients are released to go home about two hours after the procedure is complete. Patients should plan for someone to drive them home due to the lingering effects of the anesthesia or sedation. This feeling of grogginess may last for one to two days.
It is normal for the neck to feel sore and tight when waking up after surgery. The plastic surgeon will send the patient home with painkillers that must be taken as directed. Other common side effects in the first several days after a neck lift include:
- Numbness at the incision sites
- Tingling sensations
- Periodic sharp pains
- A feeling of pulling or burning
- Cold sensations
- Bruising and swelling
All of these symptoms should disappear entirely within the first two weeks.
Keeping the head and neck still after this surgery is important, but it can be challenging. When turning to look at something, patients should turn their entire body and not just their head. Patients will also need to sleep with their head elevated for up to two weeks after surgery and get up to walk several times a day. Bending and heavy lifting must be avoided until the sutures are removed, which typically happens around a week to 10 days after surgery. Most neck lift patients are ready to return to work after two weeks.
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Western Maryland Medical Arts Center
12502 Willowbrook Road, Suite 450,
Cumberland, MD 21502