A neck lift is a surgical procedure that addresses signs of aging in the neck and jawline. Uneven jawline contour with jowls, loose, wrinkled neck skin, fat deposits under the chin, prominent muscle bands in the neck and loss of a defined angle between the jawline and neck can all be seen in the aging neck. Genetics, lifestyle, sun exposure and environmental toxins influence the aging process. Recently, a study published in Nature reported that certain genes passed down from mothers affect how we age—if your mother had lines and wrinkles at an early age, you would be more likely to have the same. Patients whose necks have aged more rapidly than their faces may benefit from a neck lift as a stand-alone procedure. However, many patients who desire neck lifts are candidates for facelifts as well. When patients have advanced signs of aging of their necks, a stand-alone neck lift without an accompanying facelift may result in disharmony between the neck and face.
What a does a neck lift do?
- Removes excess fat under chin area
- Tightens lax muscles that form prominent muscle bands
- Removes excess neck skin
- Tightens neck skin
- Eliminates or reduces prominent jowls
- Restores a more youthful neck-jawline angle
Is a neck lift the only way to address these signs of aging?
No. Depending on the severity of neck aging as well as a patient’s goals and expectations, other non-surgical treatment options can improve mild to moderate signs of aging.
- Fat deposits can be reduced by liposuction-
- Younger patients with good skin elasticity
- Must be done conservatively to avoid over resection
- Local anesthesia satisfactory in select patients
- Fat deposits can also be reduced by radio-frequency energy, external ultrasound, freezing (cryolipolysis) and Kybella, an injectable drug that “melts” fat.
- Neck bands can be softened by relaxing the muscle (platysma) using a neurotoxin–Xeomin® Botox® Cosmetic or Dysport®
- Loose neck skin can be tightened by radio-frequency in select patients
- Fillers can be injected in some instances to treat deep lines
Searching the Internet for information on improving the appearance of your neck will present many options. It can be confusing for patients to figure out what will work best. Treatments must be individualized for each patient.
A consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon can help you decide what will work best for you.
What If I only have what appears to be fat under my chin?
KYBELLATM is the first, and only FDA – approved injectable drug to improve the appearance and profile of moderate to severe fat below the chin (submental fat) sometimes referred to as a double chin. Kybella (deoxycholic acid) is injected directly into the fat below the chin. It physically disrupts (destroying) the fat cells. Repeat treatments are administered not less than one month apart up to a total of six treatments. Many patients see a visible result in 2 – 4 treatments. Re-treatment is usually not necessary. The most common side effects are bruising and swelling. As with any treatment, patient selection is key to achieving an optimal outcome. Patients who have loose skin and or have very prominent neck bands are not good candidates.
Liposuction: In patients with good skin elasticity, liposuction is one of several treatment options to reduce fat. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia. Once anesthetized a small incision is made under the chin and a liposuction cannula (a thin tube with one or several holes is attached to a vacuum-like device) using a back-and–forth motion the cannula is passed over the localized fat deposits removing them. Once complete the patient wears a compressive chin strap for several days and then at night for two weeks. While improvement can be appreciated within two weeks, it may take up to three months to see the final result. Liposuction must be performed by a well- trained plastic surgeon. Removing too much fat will result in an unattractive skeletonized appearance.
Radio-frequency Devices and Lasers: There are several radio-frequency (RF) devices on the market. Some of these devices apply the radio-frequency energy topically while others fall under the category of minimally invasive where local anesthesia is administered, and a small incision is made under the chin. A thin probe is inserted under the skin and moved slowly in a back-and-forth motion destroying the fat cells as well as heating the skin. In a similar manner, certain lasers can be used to treat localized fat deposits in the submental area.
What about Neck Bands, can they be treated non-surgically as well?
Prominent neck bands due to the underlying platysma muscle can be softened by injecting the muscle bands with a neuromodulator (Xeomin®, Botox® Cosmetic, Dysport®).
What if I have all three—loose skin, neck bands, and deposits of fat?
If they are mild or moderate in their prominence, then a combination of the treatments described above can be used at your plastic surgeon’s discretion. If they are pronounced then, a neck lift may be the treatment of choice. This is usually decided at the time of your initial consultation.