Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 30, 2019.
A neck lift is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and fat around your jaw line, creating a more defined and youthful-looking neck. Results can be long lasting, but neck lift surgery can't stop the aging process.
Why it's done
A neck lift is done to reduce signs of aging in the lower part of the face. It's often done as part of a face-lift.
Risks involved with neck lift surgery might include:
- Bleeding under the skin (hematoma)
- Reaction to anesthetic
- Thick scarring
- Blood clots
- Nerve injury
- Skin loss
- Open wounds
Another possible risk of neck lift surgery is that you might not be satisfied with your results. In this situation, another surgery might be an option.
How you prepare
Food and medications
Your doctor might ask you to stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications several days before your surgery. These can include warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), heparin and aspirin and other medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
Because smoking tobacco promotes wrinkling of the skin and slows both recovery and healing, your doctor will recommend that you quit smoking before having a neck lift.
Arrange for a ride home after your surgery and for someone to stay with you the first night after your procedure.
What you can expect
Before the procedure
Before you have a neck lift, your doctor will consult with you to evaluate your health and to discuss your surgical goals and expectations. Your doctor will then decide on the surgical method that works best for you. He or she might suggest additional procedures — such as a brow lift, eyelid surgery or skin resurfacing — that might help give you the results you desire.
Your face will be examined and measured, and you might have photographs taken so that you can compare your appearance before and after surgery.
During the procedure
A neck lift can be done with sedation and local anesthesia, in which only part of your body feels numb, or under general anesthesia.
Liposuction is the most commonly used procedure. The surgeon makes a tiny incision behind each ear and under the chin. Specialized equipment suctions fat from the jaw line and beneath the chin. If your skin is resilient and the only reason for your dissatisfaction with your neck's appearance is fullness due to fat, liposuction can give you a more defined neck.
Liposuction, however, won't correct structural problems that contribute to your neck's appearance. Your doctor will discuss the type of surgery that will work best for you, depending on several factors, including your desired outcome, cost and what's causing your dissatisfaction with your neck.
After the procedure
After a neck lift, you're likely to have swelling and bruising.
You might need to wear a special garment that compresses your neck and helps reduce swelling. You'll also need to keep your head elevated above your heart and to keep it straight. Don't twist or bend your neck.
It might take several weeks to months for swelling and bruising to fully disappear and up to six months for your incision lines to fade. In the meantime, be careful to protect your skin from the sun, don't wear clothing you need to pull over your head and be gentle with your surgical incisions.