What is a Necklift and is it Right for Me? Dr. Jaimie DeRosa Helps Explain.

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What is a neck lift?

A necklift is a surgical procedure that is performed to help to correct neck laxity reduce excess skin and, sometimes fat, from the neck.  It is typically performed in conjunction with at least a lower facelift that addresses hanging skin and laxity along the jawline and lower cheek area, including the jowls.

Why do people get them?

People get a necklift in order to create better definition in of the neck, often trying to get more of a “90 degree” neckline angle from the jawline to the neck, correcting issues such as a ‘turkey neck’.  People also get a necklift in order to remove hanging, redundant neck skin that can develop as one ages.

What exactly does this procedure entail?

There are several different nuances to a necklift, but, in general, it entails making an incision along the back of the ear and sometimes into the hairline behind the ear, elevating the skin of the neck from this vantage point, tightening the fibrous tissue underneath the skin to help ‘pull’ the neck back into a more youthful position, and then trimming and removing the excess skin before closing the incision.

How invasive are they?

Depending on the degree of skin elevation and other items addressed in a necklift, such as tightening the platysma muscle (platysmaplasty), removing fat from the area under the chin (submental liposuction), and tightening up the glands under the jawline (submandibular gland pexi), the necklift can range from minimally invasive to relatively invasive.  One may hear descriptions such as a ‘mini necklift’ or a ‘deep plane necklift’ which are minimally and more invasive, respectively.

How long is the downtime afterward?

Downtime can vary, but in general there are sutures around the ear that are removed or dissolve in 5 to 7 days.  There may be bruising and swelling, as well, that can lengthen downtime for another week or so, but, in general, my patients have about a week of downtime after a necklift and then can go on with their daily activities.

How much is the typical cost of a neck lift and are there any cases in which they could be covered by insurance? 

In general, a necklift is not covered by insurance, so expect to pay out-of-pocket for this surgery.  The cost can range from around $8000 to over $100,000 in some pricier markets. This huge range in pricing is dependent on where you live, your surgeon’s fees, and the exact procedure you have.  

How long do the results of neck lifts last?

The results of a necklift can last from about 5 years to over 20, depending on the degree of surgery performed and other factors, such as age, skin damage with loss of elasticity and rapid weight gain and loss.  

Can the procedure be reversed?

A necklift cannot be reversed overall, as the surgeon is removing excess skin during the procedure that cannot be replaced.  If there are sutures under the skin that are too tight and need to be loosened, there may be a rare occasion that this can be addressed.  Instead, in time, the aging process will continue and the neck will loosen again.

Is there a recommended age to get this procedure done?

Everyone ages at a slightly different pace and may see the effects of an aging neck sooner or later that their peers, so there is no one ‘correct’ age to get a necklift.  I have patients in their later 30s and early 40s getting ‘mini’ necklifts to correct the early stages of neck laxity and others who wait until they are in their 60s or 70s to get their first necklift. My recommendation is to talk with a necklift surgeon if you are bothered by your neck aging to see what your options are.

What certifications/specialties should a doctor have in order to safely be able provide a neck lift?

This is an important question.  There are only two certifying organizations in the US – the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (ABFPRS) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery- that certify surgeons to perform plastic surgery.  These certifications tell a patient that your surgeon has gone through a rigorous training program and exams and have shown their ability to perform plastic surgery safely.  

What do you recommend that people research to make sure the procedure is a fit for them?

One should investigate surgical and non-surgical treatments for whatever issue(s) in the neck are bothersome to her.  My best recommendation is to do some research and then have a consultation with a necklift specialist to hear their thoughts and treatment recommendations too.

How should people who are interested in the procedure go about getting it done? (Prep, day of, after the procedure)

In general, one should prep for necklift by avoiding excess salt and alcohol for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.  Also avoid things that can cause bleeding such as NSAIDS and aspirin.  The day of surgery you’ll want to follow your surgeon’s recommendations but typically you will avoid eating or drinking for 8 hours before surgery and come into the surgical center without make-up and wearing comfortable clothing.  (I recommend a zip-up sweater or sweatshirt that has a hood, a scarf, and sunglasses—these help ‘disguise’ the surgical dressing after surgery).  Afterwards, you’ll want to limit strenuous exercise and drastic head movements during the early postop time to help decrease risks such as bleeding or a blood collection under the skin called a hematoma.  Once the incisions are healed, you’ll also want to use sunscreen on the scars to help keep them from getting too dark or white.

Follow your surgeon’s directions both before and after surgery, as your surgeon knows what is best to get you through the necklift with optimal results.

Additional pros to getting the procedure?

A necklift is a great way to clean-up hanging, loose neck skin and get a better, more defined neckline.  

Additional cons to getting the procedure?

A necklift is surgery, so there are still risks and possible complications that can occur with a necklift, including bleeding, infection, visible scarring, permanent numbness, and nerve damage, so you want to be sure you understand the risks involved with the particular type of necklift your surgeon is proposing too.

Any additional commentary?

Necklifts are one of my favorite surgeries that I perform on a weekly basis in my QuadA accredited surgery center on Newbury Street, Boston.  They are a great way to quickly reverse the aging process and letting my patients look like a fresher, rejuvenated version of themselves.