Younger patients with a small amount of loose skin under their neck may be good candidates for a “mini-facelift” or neck lift. Also often referred to as a “minimal or partial facelift,” this cosmetic procedure focuses on the neck and neckline area. It is a minimally invasive surgery that has a low risk of side effects or unsightly scarring.
Patients looking to cosmetically enhance the neck area may also be interested in neck, or submental, liposuction, which can be performed alone or in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures such as facelift or chin implant. It is important to keep in mind that excess skin must be accounted for even after neck fat is removed. Use of a compression band is often successful in conjunction with certain facelift procedures.
What Happens During the Neck Lift Procedure?
As with any surgical procedure, neck lift operations are invasive and carry risks of adverse events or side effects. Your doctor will conduct a thorough pre-operative interview and screen you for complicating conditions such as diabetes, uncontrolled blood pressure, problems with blood clotting or excessive bleeding, or the tendency for prolonged wound healing or excessive scar formation.
This type of procedure is performed in an outpatient surgical hospital, and the actual surgery will likely take around an hour. While most patients are discharged home the same day, some opt to stay overnight in the surgical facility in order to better facilitate staff member monitoring of their recovery progress.
Your doctor will also discuss pertinent details about the procedure with you, such as whether they will use general anesthesia or local anesthesia with heavy sedation. He or she will also tell you the plan for the surgical incision and what to expect during the recovery period.
It is important to keep in mind that neck liposuction is not an alternative to a healthy lifestyle and diet modifications for weight loss. However, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty, power-assisted liposuction, tumescent liposuction, and super-wet liposuction are all viable options for getting rid of those last areas of fat that are resistant to weight loss attempts.
Are There Risks or Potential Side Effects?
Swelling is a common post-operative side effect that resolves as the incisions heal. Excessive swelling may be a sign of infection and should be immediately reported to your doctor. Infection commonly occurs in patients that do not carefully follow their doctor’s post-operative instructions. It is especially important to quit smoking at least two weeks before and after face lift surgery to reduce the risk of skin necrosis and death.
Incisions used in neck lift surgery are usually placed in hidden areas along facial creases or in the hairline. Scars will take an initial six weeks to heal and will fade over the ensuing months and years. Unfavorable scarring may be a result of poor surgical technique. Be sure to look at before and after photos available from your surgeon to ensure they can achieve the results you desire.
Excessive bleeding after neck lift procedures can cause hematoma formation (a collection of blood) under the skin. Bruising may be a transient side effect and fade with swelling as the incisions heal. Change in the shape or contour of the face must be immediately reported to your doctor. Hematoma formation can be a serious condition requiring a further operation to stop the bleeding and evacuate the clot. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking blood thinners, including aspirin, for a few weeks before and after your operation.
Nerve damage with altered or loss of sensation is perhaps the most common unfavorable side effect. The surgeon severs many nerve endings as excess skin is removed and repositioned on the face. Numbness and facial muscle weakness may be temporary and resolve as nerve endings regenerate, but it can also occasionally be permanent. Smoking greatly reduces blood circulation and makes permanent nerve damage more likely.
What to Expect Post-Procedure
After the neck lift procedure, the patient can expect a mild-to-moderate amount of swelling around the surgical area and incision sites. Bruising or hematoma formation may also occur. It is important to monitor the incision site for signs of inflammation or wound dehiscence (separation) that may indicate prolonged healing time. Prolonged healing times are associated with infection and should be immediately reported to your doctor so they can start you on a course of antibiotics as soon as possible.
Other post-operative instructions from your doctor may include use of a chin-strap, instructions to keep your head elevated above the level of your heart when lying down, use of pain medication to relieve initial discomfort, and use of antibiotic ointment on incision sites to prevent infection. A compression band is commonly prescribed to keep swelling at a minimum and hold the neck in its new position and shape. Sutures used during surgery are usually non-dissolvable and your doctor will instruct you to return in a week to 10 days to have them removed.
How Soon Does Normal Life Resume After a Neck Lift?
Be sure to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for post-operative recovery. He or she may instruct you to avoid heavy lifting, bending, and other physically demanding work. There may be extensive bruising after the neck lift, so you may prefer to use makeup if you want to return to work before it has fully resolved.
Within three weeks, most or all visible signs of surgery such as bruising and swelling should resolve. Increased pain, hematoma formation, seroma formation, redness, inflammation, or heavy bleeding should be immediately reported to your surgeon.
Who Performs Surgery?
As with any surgery, it is important to thoroughly research the physicians in your area that offer this procedure. Choosing a physician that is board-certified and highly experienced in this type of procedure will ensure you are happy with the postoperative results for years to come.
Are You a Good Candidate?
Men and women that make great candidates for neck lift surgery are in good general health overall and do not have bleeding or clotting disorders. During your first consultation with your physician, he or she will thoroughly review your past medical history as well as any current medications or health problems you may have. It is highly advised that you stop smoking for at least two weeks before and after surgery to help avoid extended wound healing or separation. Smoking constricts vascular blood flow and prevents wounds from closing as cleanly as they should.
Other factors that exclude patients from making good neck lift candidates include:
- Scarring problems such as keloid formation
- Fat pockets that can be resolved with diet and exercise
- Frequent weight fluctuations
- Previous surgery in the neck area
- Poor facial skin elasticity
- Poor understanding of the neck lift procedure and the results that can be achieved
How to Prepare for Surgery
Be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by your doctor in order to properly prepare for the neck lift procedure. He or she may instruct you to avoid aspirin and all NSAIDs for 2 weeks prior to the operation in order to avoid clotting problems later. It is also essential that you stop smoking for at least 2 weeks before and after the procedure. Alcohol should be avoided a few days before neck lift surgery and fasting instructions for the night before and morning of your operation are important to avoid anesthesia complications. You should also arrange for someone to pick you up after the procedure and it may be helpful to have someone around the house for a few days.
Are There Alternatives to This Procedure?
Patients looking for less-invasive alternatives to neck surgery may be interested in BOTOX® or collagen injections. However, it should be kept in mind that no injection can provide the same dramatic results as a neck lift operation.