Close up of female neck and shoulders. Woman thyroid gland control.

Has that excess skin on your neck been bothering you? Are you worried that it might lead to wrinkles and lines that make you look older? Then you may want to consider neck-lift surgery or a non-surgical approach that will help smooth your skin and provide a more youthful appearance.

To help you navigate what procedure might be best for you, start with a consultation with a fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon like Dr. Gregory Branham, Dr. John Chi or Dr. Emily Spataro of the Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center.

What is a neck lift?

“The neck lift is designed to improve the gravitational or laxity changes that occur in the area below the chin and the upper neck,” Dr. Branham explains. “In most instances, it is one component of the face/neck lift that is designed to improve the neckline, submental (area beneath the chin) laxity and jawline and lower one-third of the face. It can be combined with a browlift or midface lift, as well.”

A good candidate for a neck lift is a person who is at ideal weight, has a normal projected chin or jaw (not a weak chin) and does not have a thick, heavy neck or sloping neckline.

“Before considering a neck lift, I would encourage patients to take a good long look in the mirror and try to define what it is that bothers them,” Dr. Branham says. “Make a list and prioritize it so that you can make good decisions when it comes time to decide what is best for you and what you are ready for. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions.”

What to expect?

A neck-lift procedure is tailored to fit each individual patient’s unique anatomy, so there is not a single neck-lift operation.

The length of a neck-lift procedure depends on how extensive the operation is and how severe the problem is, but for an average candidate, the procedure should take approximately four hours, Dr. Branham explains.

Patients should generally expect to have a smoother jawline/neckline once healing is complete, resulting in a new and improved look but not necessarily making them look like they did when they were younger.

 “I tell my patients to expect an improved you with no expectation of looking 30 again. You want to look the best you can look for your age,” he says. “The drawbacks to a neck lift are that it doesn’t last forever. As long as gravity works, we will continue to relax, but you will always look better than if you hadn’t had it done, and you can expect to need a tuck-up in about seven years, which is a more minor procedure.”

Patients may also benefit from additional procedures performed at the time of the neck lift, such as liposuction from the double chin area, chin implant, laser resurfacing or chemical peel. These procedures can augment the effects of a neck lift by addressing a double chin, weak chin or rejuvenating the skin.

What are non-surgical alternatives?

If you are not ready for a neck-lift operation but are still looking for a way to help smooth your neck area, there are several non-surgical techniques. These can include:

  • Kybella, a chemical injected into the tissues that will break up the fat cells and eventually clean up the neckline. Younger patients with some fullness of the chin may prefer this treatment.
  • Neuromodulators such as Botox or Dysport can relieve the platysmal banding that can occur in the neck and can last approximately three months.
  • Energy-based treatments, which use radiofrequency or ultrasonic devices, can be used to tighten the skin. Generally, these treatments are not permanent and must be repeated approximately every year.

The results from these nonsurgical rejuvenation treatments depend on the individual patient’s response. Although they will not give you the long-lasting results of a surgical procedure, they may be a good alternative.

Whatever you choose, your doctor can help you make the choice that meets your individual needs.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with the physicians at the Facial Plastic Surgery Center, call 314-996-3880 or click here.