A neck lift is a surgical procedure that smooths and tightens the neck's skin, which can sag from aging or weight loss. There are usually two components to a neck lift: cervicoplasty, which removes excess skin, and platysmaplasty, which removes or tightens muscles in the neck. A neck lift can be performed alone or as part of a facelift. A neck lift candidate is in good physical and emotional health, and has realistic expectations about the outcome of surgery. The results of a neck lift can last up to 10 years.
A neck lift begins with a small, inconspicuous incision directly below the chin (platysmaplasty) and/or in front of the ear lobes, looping behind the ears and ending in the scalp near the back of the neck (cervicoplasty). Sagging skin is trimmed away and lifted during cervicoplasty; loose muscles that cause the "bands" around the neck to be prominent are tightened during platysmaplasty. In some cases, it is necessary to perform only one of the two procedures. Liposuction is sometimes used to remove excess fat; if so, it is performed before the neck lift. Incisions are glued and/or sutured closed.
A neck lift usually takes 2 to 4 hours to perform, and the patient is given either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. Most neck lifts are performed on an outpatient basis. Bandages covering incisions are removed after a few days; sutures are typically removed after 7 to 10 days.
Swelling and bruising from a neck lift can last up to 10 days. Applying cold compresses and keeping the head elevated for the first 48 hours following surgery minimizes swelling. Keeping the head still, and avoiding turning or twisting it for the first few days post-surgery, is recommended. Medication is prescribed to help alleviate discomfort.
Most people return to work and other normal daily activities within 2 weeks, after which bruising and swelling have subsided. More strenuous activities should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks.
Although rare, possible risks and complications of a neck lift include the following:
A more serious complication, also rare, is facial nerve damage that can lead to muscle paralysis.