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What is neck lift surgery?

Neck lift surgery, also known as lower rhytidectomy, platysmaplasty, or cervicoplasty, is a surgical procedure that improves visible signs of ageing in the jawline and neck. The neck is one of the first places where we show our age due to a variety of factors, including heredity, gravity, environmental conditions, and stress.

Neck lift surgery can treat excess fat and skin relaxation in the lower face that creates jowls, excess fatty deposits under the chin, loose neck skin, muscle banding in the neck, which created abnormal contours, and a “turkey wattle” that makes you look much older than your age.

A neck lift enhances the appearance of the neck by tightening the skin and underlying neck muscles and improving the contour of the jawline, giving a more youthful profile. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with liposuction, facelift, cheek augmentation, or chin surgery but may also be done as a stand-alone procedure.

“Neck lift surgery is a highly individualized procedure. You should do it for yourself, not to fulfil someone else's desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image, especially those coming from social media. Choosing a procedure based on “what’s new” is never a medically sound decision. Hearing about a procedure on television, through an advertisement or online does not necessarily mean it is the best procedure for you.”

What a neck lift surgery can't do?

As a restorative surgery, a neck lift does not change your fundamental appearance and cannot stop the ageing process. A neck lift can only be performed surgically; non-surgical rejuvenation treatments cannot achieve the same results but may help delay the time at which a neck lift becomes appropriate and complement the results of surgery.

Who is a good candidate for neck lift surgery?

Some people feel they are not ready for a full facelift because the upper face is still pleasing. However, many patients will note excess wrinkling of the neck skin, a double chin or "turkey wattle" and jowl lines. When the neck area doesn't match the upper facial appearance, a neck lift may be a good solution. In general, you may be a good candidate for neck lift surgery if you desire a sleeker neck with a distinct jawline that separates your neck from your face, you have excess skin and fat in your neck, your neck has developed folds and lines, you are physically fit, nonsmoker or have stopped smoking recently and have realistic expectations of the outcome of your surgery.

What should I expect during a consultation for neck lift surgery?

During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals. Dr Ricardo will evaluate you as a candidate for neck lift surgery and clarify what approach is best for you. Alternative and additional treatments may be considered, once he understands your goals and medical condition. It is important to be completely honest during the consultation and be prepared to discuss your medical, drug allergies and medical treatments, current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, previous surgeries, and your history with any noninvasive cosmetic procedures and why you want the procedure, your expectations, and desired outcome.

Dr Ricardo will also evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors, evaluate the elasticity of your skin, take photographs, discuss the approach to your surgery, including the type of procedure or combination of procedures and tell you whether your expectations are in line with typical results, discuss any risks or potential complications and share before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours.

The success and safety of your neck lift surgery depend very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. It's very important to understand all aspects of your procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement about your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with Dr Ricardo.

How should I prepare for neck lift surgery?

In preparing for neck lift surgery, you may be asked to get lab testing or a medical evaluation, take certain medications or adjust your current medications, stop smoking in advance of surgery and avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.

The surgery will be performed in an accredited hospital and requires you to stay overnight for observation unless you and Dr Ricardo have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery. You must arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you the first night following the hospital’s discharge.

Dr Ricardo and the entire staff will provide thorough preoperative instructions and answer any questions you may have. The goal is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results, as well as to make your surgical experience as easy, comfortable, and safe as possible.

What are the steps of a neck lift procedure?

Step 1 – Anaesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anaesthesia. Dr Ricardo will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – Surgical procedure

Depending on the degree of change you'd like to see, your neck lift choices include a traditional neck lift or a limited incision neck lift.

A traditional neck lift incision often begins in the hairline at the level of the sideburn, continues down and around the ear, and ends in the posterior hair. Fat may be sculpted or redistributed from the jowls and neck. The tissue underlying the neck skin is repositioned, and commonly the platysma muscle is tightened. Skin is redraped over the uplifted contours and excess skin is trimmed away. A separate incision under the chin is often necessary for liposuction of this area and/or for the repair of the Platysma muscle if a corset platysmaplasty is planned (in which the platysma muscles are tightly sewn together to create a smooth neck contour).

A limited incision neck lift may involve incisions only around the ear. While the incisions are shorter, the results may be more limited.

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Incision lines are closed with sutures that may be dissolving or may need to be removed after a few days. Once healed, the incision lines from a neck lift surgery are usually well concealed within the hairline and in the natural contours of the ear.

Step 4 – See the results

The visible improvements of a neck lift surgery appear as swelling and bruising subside.

What should I expect during my neck lift recovery?

During your recovery from neck lift surgery, a bandage could gently be placed around your face and neck to minimize swelling and bruising when your procedure is completed. A thin tube may be present to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect under the skin but its placement by Dr Ricardo is not common, just for particular cases like those patients who are undergoing secondary surgery. It is important to keep your head elevated above your heart to minimize swelling and to keep your head straight (no excessive twisting or bending of the neck). Do not use ice or heat on the operated area.

You will be given specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with Dr Ricardo. Remember to always follow his instructions to ensure the success of your surgery.

Cosmetics can help camouflage any bruising. Initial wound healing may take 10 to 14 days. Sutures will be removed when it is appropriate. The surgical incisions mustn't be subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. As swelling and bruising subside, the visible improvements of a neck lift appear. However, you must realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.

What results should I expect after my neck lift surgery?

Most people are presentable to the public within 7-10 days but the recovery time will vary by patient and in relation to the extent of your surgery.  It will take 2-3 months for the neck to feel "back to normal" in terms of texture, sensibility and loss of tightness.

Life-long sun protection and a healthy lifestyle will help extend the results of your rejuvenated, more youthful appearance. Under normal circumstances, the results of your neck lift surgery will be long-lasting.

Your final neck lift result should not only restore a more youthful and rested appearance but also help you feel more confident about yourself, achieving the most beautiful and natural-looking results.  

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