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Neck lift

Medically reviewed on May 17, 2018

Overview

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 if you maintain your weight.

Why it's done

A neck lift is often done as part of a face-lift.

Risks

Risks involved with neck lift surgery might include:

  • Bleeding under the skin (hematoma)
  • Thick scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • 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).

Other precautions

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 having a neck lift, your doctor will consult with you to evaluate your health and to discuss your 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. Your doctor will discuss the type of surgery that works best for you. Options include:

  • Liposuction. 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. The procedure lasts one to two hours. The result, if your skin is resilient, is a more defined neck area.
  • Cervicoplasty. The surgeon makes a small incision beneath the chin (and sometimes around the ears) and tightens the neck muscles underneath. Excess skin and fat also might be removed. The procedure takes two to three hours. Cervicoplasty is recommended for people who are overweight.
  • Submentoplasty. The surgeon makes a small incision in the curve of your neck and tightens the neck muscles. Liposuction also might be used. The procedure takes about 45 minutes. Specialists might recommend submentoplasty if you are near your ideal body weight and have a moderate amount of loose neck skin and fat.

After the procedure

You will receive close follow-up care to ensure proper healing. After a neck lift, you might have swelling and bruising.

You might need to wear a special garment that compresses your neck and helps reduce swelling. The neck-compression garment is usually needed for three or four weeks after liposuction, five to seven days after cervicoplasty, and four or five days after submentoplasty.

You probably can return to work and resume activities in two to four weeks.

Results

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 and excessive abrasion or motion.

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