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What is a Neck Lift?

The necklift, also referred to as lower rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of aging in the jawline and neck. It also addresses other conditions that develop with aging such as excess fat and skin relaxation that causes jowling, excess fat under the chin, loose neck skin (“turkey neck”), and muscle banding in the neck. The loss of youthful contours in the face and neck can be attributable to a variety of factors including stress, environmental conditions and genetics.

Rejuvenation procedures that can be performed in conjunction with a neck lift are eyelid surgery to rejuvenate aging eyes, a brow lift to correct a sagging or deeply furrowed brow, and fat transfer to add fullness to the lips and cheeks and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Am I a Candidate for a Neck Lift?

A neck lift is appropriate for someone who is not ready for a full facelift, because the upper face still looks good, or if the neck simply doesn’t match the upper face. It can be done along with brow or eyelid surgery, chin augmentation, or fat transfer to the cheeks and/or lips, depending on your anatomy and pattern of aging. Ideally you are in good physical and emotional health, and have reasonable expectations of what surgery can achieve.

There are those who feel they are not ready for a full facelift because the upper face is still pleasing to the eye. However, they have begun to notice wrinkling of the neck skin, a double chin or jowl lines. When the neck area doesn’t match the upper face, a neck lift may be a good solution. Injectable treatments like KYBELLA can reduce fat deposits under the chin (over several sessions) but cannot treat the other signs of lower facial and neck aging.

How is a Neck Lift Performed?

Sonoma County plastic surgeon Kristen Yee, MD performs neck lifts under general anesthesia because she feels it’s the safest. The scar will be mainly hidden in the hairline, and around (in front of and behind) the ear; there is often a separate small incision under the chin as well. Through these incisions, fat is sculpted and repositioned, and the underlying muscles are tightened. The skin is re-draped over the newly contoured neck and jaw, and the excess skin is removed. Depending on the extent of surgery, you may have thin drains placed.

Recovery After a Neck Lift

A neck lift is performed at an outpatient surgery center, however, you should have someone stay with you afterwards, as you might need help the first few times you get out of bed. You will sleep with your head elevated to help the swelling resolve, and optimize wound healing. Getting out of bed and walking will also help. It is important to keep your head straight, without excessive twisting or bending. Also, do not apply ice as this can compromise blood flow and result in skin loss.

You will have several appointments in the first 2 weeks after surgery to check healing, and gradually remove drains and sutures. You should plan to be able to return to work around 2 weeks after surgery if all goes well. You should plan to start to resume your normal activities, at 50% intensity, at 3 weeks after surgery.

If you think a neck lift is right for you, please schedule a consultation to discuss your goals with Dr. Yee.