What is a neck lift?

A neck lift — also called a lower rhytidectomy or neck lift surgery — is a cosmetic procedure that changes the appearance of an aging neck and jawline. During a neck lift, your plastic surgeon removes excess skin and fat to tighten the skin on the lower part of the face. Neck lift surgery can address areas such as a fatty chin, sagging jowls or wrinkled skin. It can also enhance the appearance of thin or “crepey” tissue on the neck, which has a fragile, crinkled texture similar to crepe paper. 

At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, our board certified plastic surgeons offer neck lift surgery alone or alongside other cosmetic surgery procedures such as a mini-facelift, a brow lift or liposuction in the cheeks, chin or jawline.

Other options we offer to reduce the signs of aging and skin damage can include nonsurgical facial and skin rejuvenation. To help you care for your skin, your Ohio State doctor can also tell you about high-quality products and treatments offered through our spa services.

Neck lift benefits

As you get older, your skin loses elasticity, fullness and shape. These changes can lead to age-related imperfections on your neck, chin and jaw. In addition, sun, pollution, stress and your genes may also contribute to slack and aging skin. As a result, you might have sagging skin along your cheeks and jawline (jowls). Other common changes include a double chin, creased or papery skin and ring-like wrinkles on the neck.

A neck lift can tighten the skin and muscles of your neck and help define your jawline. Surgeons perform this procedure alone or at the same time as other surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic procedures.

Neck lift surgery treats skin changes such as: 

  • Circular lines and wrinkles around the neck 
  • Excess fat and sagging skin
  • Fatty deposits under the chin
  • Slack or loose neck skin
  • Specific issues such as a double chin and jowls

Discuss neck lift surgery with your Ohio State plastic surgeon. You might be a good candidate for a neck lift if you meet these and other conditions:

  • You’re a nonsmoker
  • You don’t abuse drugs and alcohol
  • You have realistic expectations about results
  • You’re healthy with no conditions that could affect healing

How to prepare for neck lift surgery

Schedule a consultation with an Ohio State plastic surgeon to ask questions and learn more about neck lift procedures and other surgical and nonsurgical options. The doctor will talk with you about the areas you want to treat and your treatment goals.

During your visit, you’ll learn more about steps to take before and after your neck lift, including any additional procedures you may have scheduled.

Preparation may include:

  • Discussion of your lifestyle habits, allergies and medications or supplements
  • Directions about medications or supplements to avoid before your procedure
  • Evaluation of health and medical history
  • Examination of your face and neck
  • Guidance about skin care before and after treatment
  • Instructions to stop smoking
  • Photographs of areas to be treated
  • Pre- and postoperative requirements information

Your pre-operative instructions regarding a neck lift or other additional procedures will include:

  • Checklist for what to do the day before and the day of your surgery
  • List of procedure steps, including the type of anesthesia
  • Specifics about expected results, recovery and follow-up care

What to expect if you have a neck lift

Your doctor may perform neck lift surgery in the hospital or at an Ohio State outpatient surgery center in Columbus or surrounding locations. Before your procedure, you may receive sedation to help you relax in addition to anesthesia as discussed with your doctor during pre-operative visits.

The doctor will make incisions as described during pre-operative conversations. Surgical approaches vary depending on the procedure. Incisions may be near, behind or around the ears and under the chin.

In some instances, doctors perform a “mini neck lift.” This procedure involves small incisions and liposuction to remove fat and smooth contours along the cheeks, jaw and chin. To improve definition, the doctor may sculpt skin and redistribute fat from one fatty area to another.

During a full surgical neck lift, the surgeon cuts and lifts skin, removes skin and fat from treated areas, and tightens underlying muscle tissue. The doctor then repositions the skin over the new curves.

When the surgery is complete, your doctor closes incisions using surgical sutures, skin adhesive or other methods. Some sutures dissolve and don’t require removal; others are removed during a follow-up office visit. Your doctor will cover the closed incisions with protective bandages or gauze.

After neck lift surgery

When you wake up after neck lift surgery, you’ll experience some tenderness and see some redness and bruising in the treated areas. As you heal, you’ll also see some scarring along incision lines. You can expect the scars and redness to fade over time, although the scarring won’t vanish altogether. After a neck lift, the scars are usually well hidden within the hairline and the natural curves of the ear.

Results of neck lift surgery

After your neck lift, you should notice visible improvements as the swelling subsides. Most people see a more youthful appearance with smoother contours and enhanced skin tone. Your lower face and neck will look refreshed — without loose, sagging skin and lines.

Neck lifts provide lasting results, but you’ll still see the effects of aging, gravity and time. However, you can extend your results by caring for your skin and overall health. To protect the skin on your face, neck and body, your plastic surgeon can recommend quality skincare products and therapies available through Ohio State’s spa services.

Risks of a neck lift

Potential risks of neck lift surgery depend on your health and medical history and other factors such as skin type and condition. Complications are less likely when you choose a board certified plastic surgeon from the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, a reputable leader serving Columbus and surrounding communities.

Your Ohio State plastic surgeon will explain the risks of a neck lift relative to your specific concerns. Possible risks of neck lift surgery include the same risks associated with any surgery. These include anesthesia reaction, bleeding, infection and poor wound healing.

Potential complications specific to neck lift surgery include:

  • Changes in skin sensation
  • Fluid buildup (hematoma)
  • Persistent pain or swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Skin discoloration or irregularities
  • Skin loss due to decreased blood circulation
  • Sutures surface or cause irritation
  • Unfavorable scarring
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