When it comes to anti-aging treatments, the majority of people focus on eliminating facial lines and wrinkles to rejuvenate their appearance. While this is where the signs of aging tend to appear first, the passage of time also affects the delicate skin and tissues around the neck. Although often overlooked, an aging neck can make you look older despite a youthful facial appearance. Fortunately, addressing common concerns like loose skin, wrinkles, and the dreaded “turkey wattle” with a neck lift can restore the contours of your neck for a fully rejuvenated look.
At Crantford Costa Plastic Surgery in Charleston, South Carolina, board-certified plastic surgeons Drs. Clayton Crantford and Louis E. Costa perform neck lift surgery to help patients love what they see in the mirror. If an aging neck is detracting from your overall appearance, a neck lift can create balanced, youthful contours that enhance your natural beauty.
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Keep in mind that each patient is unique and your results may vary.
What Is a Neck Lift?
A neck lift, also called a lower rhytidectomy, is one of the most effective procedures for revitalizing the appearance of the lower face and neck. The signs of aging often extend beyond the face and affect the neck and chin, but only a neck lift can directly address the concerns that occur here. This includes wrinkles, loose skin, muscle bands, excess fat beneath the chin and the “turkey wattle” effect, concerns that can disrupt your facial contours and create a mismatched look. By manipulating the underlying tissues and removing excess skin or fat, a neck lift can restore the tone and tightness of your neck to create a more sculpted, balanced look that aligns with your overall facial appearance.
What Concerns Can a Neck Lift Address?
- Loose and sagging neck skin
- The “turkey wattle” appearance
- Deep lines, wrinkles and creases
- Muscle banding (platysmal bands)
- Excess fat beneath the chin
- Abnormal neck contours
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Is a Neck Lift Right for Me?
Neck lifts are suitable for both men and women who want to correct the signs of aging on the neck and chin. A neck lift is especially recommended if you’ve previously had a facelift and want to improve the continuity of your results, or if the neck is aging faster than your face and creating unbalanced contours that make you look older than you are. Drs. Crantford and Costa can help determine if a neck lift is right for you during your initial consultation, but ideal candidates generally meet the following criteria:
- Are in overall good health
- Understand the risks/benefits of surgery
- Have concerns that can be addressed with a neck lift
- Are non-smokers or willing to quit
- Have reasonable expectations
- Are interested in or have previously had a facelift
- Want to restore a youthful, balanced appearance
What to Expect During Your Neck Lift Procedure
Prior to your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions on how to prepare for your procedure. This might include guidelines on food or drink the night before, the use of medications or supplements, arranging for transportation home and taking enough time off from work to recover. Your doctor will also review your surgical plan and address any questions or concerns you may have before proceeding to ensure that you feel comfortable and confident moving forward.
Neck lift surgery is usually performed using general or local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Since your procedure will be tailored to you, the specifics may vary depending on your needs, preferences and your doctor’s expert recommendation. If done as a stand-alone procedure, a traditional neck lift can take one to three hours to complete. Combining a neck lift with other aesthetic surgeries, such as a facelift, will add more time to your procedure, but you’ll have the benefit of a single operation and recovery time.
During the surgery itself, your doctor will make a well-placed incision behind the ears or under the chin and begin manipulating the underlying skin, tissues and muscles of the neck. Depending on your goals, your procedure might include removing excess fat and skin, tightening the muscles and lifting the tissues to a more youthful position. These techniques will eliminate unwanted bands, wrinkles or sagging to create a more contoured appearance. Once your desired results have been achieved, the skin will be re-draped over your neck and pulled taut before being sutured into place, and the incisions will be closed.
After your surgery is complete, you’ll be brought to the recovery room, where you’ll be monitored as the anesthesia wears off. You should be able to return home later that same day, but since the effects of sedation can linger, it’s crucial that you arrange for transportation ahead of time to ensure that you get there safely.
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Neck Lift Recovery & Results
Your neck may feel tight, sore and tender after surgery. You may also experience some swelling and bruising, but this is completely normal and can be managed with plenty of rest and over-the-counter or prescription medication. Compression bandages may be used to ensure a more comfortable recovery, but these side effects will begin to subside on their own over the next few days. Your doctor may also recommend keeping your head elevated and avoiding twisting or turning your neck until your incisions have healed.
While your activity may be restricted initially after your surgery, most patients are able to return to work after a week or two. To ensure a smooth recovery and the best possible outcome, you’ll be provided with detailed post-operative instructions on how to care for your neck lift incisions, and a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to check on your progress. During this time, your doctor will also advise you on when you can incorporate more strenuous activities back into your daily routine.
Once your results emerge, you’ll notice a smoother, more youthful neckline with improved tone and tightness. These changes will be subtle but significant, helping to balance your overall appearance and create more defined contours. Following a full recovery, you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful, natural-looking results for years to come. Although a neck lift can’t stop the aging process, you can extend the longevity of your new, youthful appearance by practicing good skin care habits and maintaining a healthy, stable weight.
What Happens During A Consultation
Because we want to create your ideal surgical results, the consultation is a critical part of the process. Your surgeon will walk you through your options and help you make choices that align with your anatomy and goals. This time will also be used to conduct a thorough medical history and address all your concerns and questions.
You will have another preoperative appointment closer to the date of your surgery. At this time, you will sign the consent forms, have photos and measurements taken, and receive detailed instructions for before and after surgery. Please adhere to these instructions closely as they are instrumental in ensuring your safety and comfort.
Neck Lift FAQs
How long will my neck lift last?
The results of a well-performed neck lift can last for 10 to 15 years. This may vary depending on certain factors like your age, overall skin condition and lifestyle, but you can prolong your results by keeping your skin healthy, hydrated and free from sun damage.
Are neck lifts painful?
During your procedure, local or general anesthesia will be used so that you won’t feel any pain or discomfort. Afterward, your neck might feel sore, tender and tight, but these side effects can be easily managed with over-the-counter and prescription medicines. If you follow all post-operative instructions provided by your doctor and take it easy in the days following your procedure, you can expect a smooth recovery with minimal discomfort.
Are there nonsurgical options available?
While nonsurgical neck lift options do exist, they won’t provide the same dramatic results as a surgical approach. Nonsurgical treatments can help improve skin elasticity and eliminate some excess fat, but are unable to effectively treat loose skin, sagging, muscle bands or a “turkey neck.” Neck lift surgery can produce a noticeable difference and deliver long-lasting results that significantly enhance your overall appearance.
How do I prepare for a neck lift?
You can prepare for your neck lift by first completing any necessary medical evaluations or lab work, getting plenty of rest the night before and following your doctor’s pre-operative instructions. This might include avoiding smoking, adjusting or filling certain medications, arranging for transportation home, and planning to take at least a week off from work. If you’re still in the planning or consultation phase of your procedure, you should also check your surgeon’s credentials to ensure the best possible outcome. Both Drs. Crantford and Costa are board-certified plastic surgeons with years of experience and training in aesthetic procedures.
Can a neck lift be combined with other procedures?
Neck lifts are often combined with facelift surgery to provide the most balanced and natural-looking results. If you’ve previously received a facelift or your neck is disproportionately aged in appearance, a neck lift can also be performed by itself with superb results. The extent of your procedure and any supplemental treatments will be discussed during your consultation, and your doctor will design a surgical plan that meets your needs. If you do opt to combine a neck lift with a facelift or any other procedures, these will be performed together to ensure a smooth recovery.
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If an aging neck is making you look older than you are or creating continuity issues, board-certified plastic surgeons Drs. Crantford and Costa can help. With years of experience and extensive training in aesthetic procedures, our providers can deliver exceptional results that are tailored to your specific needs. To learn more about neck lift surgery, request your consultation using the online form, or call us today at