Risks of Neck Lift Surgery PLUS When, Who, What, How & Why People get Neck Lifts

Risks of Neck Lift Surgery

Who Gets Neck Lift Surgery & Why – Plus Necklift Surgery Risks and Safety Data

Have you read our procedure pages on Neck Lift surgery?  Called a Neck Lift (necklift) or lower Rhytidectomy (and often combined with a facelift), there are different options for neck lift surgery and treatments.

  • First, there’s liposuction only or cosmetic injections to reduce the fat.
  • Secondly, there’s the surgical reduction of the sagging neck skin.

So it depends on what your skin is like, and what effect you’re wanting to achieve after neck lift surgery (and/or a neck lift with a facelift) – as to your precise risks.

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This article has 2 parts:

  • Who, why when & how for Neck Lift Surgery

  • Safety and Risks of having a neck lift.


First, the risks of having a neck lift.

Here is a general list of neck lift plastic surgery risks adapted from the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) in Australia.

Many people safely have neck lift surgery in Australia every year.  Some combine it with a facelift as a neck lift on its own, or a facelift without remedying sagging neck skin, just doesn’t get them the results their after.

And what results are they after when they choose to have a neck rejuvenation procedure?

A younger, firmer and smoother looking jawline and neckline.

That’s because our jawlines, chin area, and upper neck, often start to look crepey and droopy as we age. And few of us like losing our chin (or gaining a second one).

For example, many people hate the ubiquitous “double chin” syndrome that a new cosmetic injections treatment can help remedy (visit Coco Ruby).

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Some people can get an improvement in their jawline or double-chin appearance using cosmetic injections into under-chin fat.  Others are simply too far gone in terms of lost collagen (reduced elasticity), visible neck bands or too much fat beneath the chin.

Sagging is common along the upper neck and jawline or chin as we age.

  • Few of us are happy with an aged neck appearance
  • Surgery or liposuction of the neck area, jawline or face area – along with fillers or other rejuvenation approaches such as fat transfer to the face – is an option for men and women who are wanting to look younger or compete in a younger job market.

Some people WILL have a good result with injections to under-chin fat, but many will need a surgical solution to get the stronger, firmer looking jawline contours that went missing as they aged.

Injections to reduce a double chin are one solution; and some can get by with a facelift alone to rejuvenate the jawline area and reduce sagging skin or jowls. But how the neck look always impacts the results of a facelift procedure.

Your neck either enhances or detracts from other facial rejuvenation results.

Double chin reduction via injections is fine for some.  Others, however, may need a more intensive treatment that is surgical in nature, or a combination of cosmetic injections, surgery and liposuction.

It varies widely on what a Surgeon believes is going to be best for you, and depending on what you are starting with.

BUT, in general, the safety and risks of having neck lift surgery might include the following, according to ASAPS.

  • Anaesthesia risks (general anaesthesia risks)
  • Bleeding
  • Temporary or permanent hair loss along the incisions, especially for any incisions made near the hairline
  • Facial asymmetry (unevenness)
  • Nerve injury that could cause weakness of the lower lip (rare)
  • Fluid accumulation (called a hematoma)
  • Infection or slow wound healing
  • Unfavorable scarring along the incision lines or where liposuction was used
  • Prolonged swelling of the treated area
  • Skin irregularities and/or skin discoloration including pigmentation OR hypo-pigmentation risks
  • Skin loss or skin healing delays
  • Sutures that might spontaneously surface through the skin, becoming visible or producing irritation and requiring removal
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Persistent pain or discomfort or sporadic nerve sensations
  • Poor wound healing especially if you smoke or have a health condition
  • Rare risk of deep venous thrombosis with cardiac or pulmonary sequelae

Unsatisfactory results from any cosmetic procedure are also a possible outcome; and given every patient is unique, some outcomes may require revisional surgery or a combined approach to improve the appearance more significantly.

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Who IS a good candidate then, for neck lift surgery?

Surgery of Sagging Neck Skin: When, Who, What, How and Why.

The skin of the neck is particularly delicate and is most vulnerable to the effects of ageing.

  • Your neck is a most visible area, so it can be troubling to your self-image or appearance confidence when skin laxity causes deep folds and creases along the jawline – or a double chin.
  • Neck cording is also found in some people, with visible strand-like bands protruding from the neck area.
  • Known as ‘platysmal bands’, these can stretch from your jaw and chin all the way down to the bottom of your neck. In addition, we all dread the turkey wattle neck look, which is often the result of fatty excess tissues causing an unattractive, wobbly-looking neck or jaw line.

neck lift surgery: what are the risks of having neck lift surgery?

Platysma bands often start out smooth, as shown in the illustration above. But as skin ages, these bands tend to separate, shrink, protrude or become more visible – or all four – leading to an aged or altered neck appearance.

So…WHEN might you need a Neck Lift Procedure?

Neck lift Plastic Surgery – what age is appropriate or best?

If you’re embarrassed by your neck appearance of feeling you want to hide it with scarves, you may be a good candidate for Neck lift Plastic Surgery.

Neck lift surgery can be transformative and extremely rejuvenating at any age, once your neck appearance becomes, in your view, the give away of your biological ageing processes.

The technical terms employed refer to a submentoplasty (mini neck lift) or a platysmaplasty (full neck lift). During your consultation with your Specialist Plastic Surgeon, you’ll discuss your various options and be given expert surgical advice about which procedure might give YOU the best result in terms of rejuvenation of the appearance of your neck.

  • A qualified plastic surgeon can remove excess skin and fat, and tighten the underlying platysma muscle, all with minimal incisions and scarring.
  • Soft tissue can also be sculpted to improve the contour of the neck.
  • The end result is that the loose bands of skin are removed, and the ‘jowly’ appearance diminished.

WHO might be a good candidate for a Neck Lift Surgery?

The range for neck surgery is extremely broad for both men and women.

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Typically, necklift surgery procedures and other facial surgeries such as facelifts or skin peels are sought from the age of 40 and up.  The most common ages for neck lift surgery are between the ages of 45/50 and 60 to 70, with some candidates well above 70 or even 80 years of age.  For face lifts, it’s about the same.

There are some benefits to having surgery earlier – or younger – rather than later, when you’re older.

These benefits are mostly in terms of enjoying the benefits of rejuvenation for longer; faster healing times or more skin elasticity to recovery from surgery better.

Usually, individuals who are considering a neck lift surgery ALSO have sun damaged or wind damaged skin, along with undesirable excess fat under their chin area, the infamous ‘turkey wattle neck’ or sagging jowls, or other neck skin concerns (such as strongly visible platysmal bands or other neck ageing and structural demarcations).

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  • For a good result with any cosmetic surgery, having good elasticity in your skin is highly advisable and pertinent to your results.
  • And although neck lift surgery is considered a relatively safe procedure, like all surgeries, it’s still an invasive surgery, so you would ideally need to be in good physical health.

During the procedure, the skin is pulled and the excess is removed, so it can work best on skin that isn’t too thin or frail, and this might exclude certain candidates or might require skin preparation and skin rejuvenation BEFORE you embark on surgery.


WHAT does a Neck Lift Procedure for rejuvenation of the neck actually involve?

This is a complex Surgical procedure involving extensive knowledge of facial and neck anatomy for best neck surgery planning

Neck lift surgery is complex.  It requires great surgical skill and a solid understanding of the anatomy of the entire face and neck area, as well as where the internal structures connect.

Liposuction may often accompany a necklift surgery, to ensure that the excess fat around the neck or under the chin is also reduced, helping remove your double or triple chin appearance.  Sometimes, autologous fat transfer (AFT) may also be used in the facial or neck rejuvenation procedure, to help restore a smoother look where volume has been lost over time.

Skin refinement before and after surgery can also help improve collagen levels, circulation and healing times.  So ask about treating your Skin before and after surgery with your Surgeon’s skin care team, who are all experienced Dermal Clinicians who know how to help you get the most from your skin in terms of rejuvenation and post-op recovery periods.

Phone us on (03) 8849 1444 to ask for an appointment and be sure to read our neck lift surgery procedure pages.

 

HOW – What Neck Lift Surgery typically involves

There is not just one way to perform a necklift surgery. At our Clinics, each patient and procedure is fully individualised for the patient’s needs.

Neck lift surgery and other rejuvenating cosmetic or plastic surgery procedures are highly customised by our leading group of Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne.

You’ll want to book a confidential consultation with one of our leading Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeons for facial rejuvenation so you know how to best prepare for surgery, as well as what your options are for neck and facial rejuvenation.

In general, however, prior to surgery, you will likely want to adopt a healthy lifestyle that will support the procedure and your healing and recovery.  This often means reducing or avoiding alcohol, avoiding excessively sugary foods, and stopping certain anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) before your surgery. If you’re on other medications, discuss this with your Surgeon and your GP or other specialist, as some medications can increase post-op bruising or bleeding; so will need to be managed during your procedure.

If you’re a smoker, you likely should NOT have surgery until you quit for good, as your results will be impacted by the effects of smoking on your skin health and other organs.  You will need to quit long before your surgery. Or, at a minimum, you will need to refrain totally from smoking for at least a month before AND for 2 months after your procedure for optimal healing results.  Why is smoking such a no-no for surgery? Smoking impedes your healing and can delay your recover, internally and externally (wound healing). It often greatly increases your surgery risks and your scarring tendencies.  So if you want facial or neck lift surgery, you may decide that this is a good time to give up smoking altogether – which will also be of benefit to your skin and overall appearance.


Procedure overview – General information only about Neck Lift Surgery

Specific procedure information, risks and best instructions for optimal recovery and healing will be provided to you by your Specialist Plastic Surgeon prior to your surgery.

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During the actual procedure, your Surgeon will likely restructure the platysma muscle (some of it may actually be removed), and remove redundant loose skin and excess fatty deposits to improve the appearance of the neck.

It is possible to have a neck lift without the muscle being surgically addressed, but the results you achieve will likely be limited.

If you choose one of our experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeons for face and neck rejuvenation, you’ll rest easier about your procedure knowing you’re in highly capable, experienced Specialist Surgeon’s hands.

Our top facial and neck rejuvenation Surgeons have decades of experience getting neck lift and facelift surgery results that are:

  • natural-looking
  • aesthetically pleasing
  • long lasting


WHY: What are the Benefits of Neck Lift Surgery?

A neck lift is considered one of the most effective cosmetic surgeries for a natural-looking result. It reduces excess skin, creates enhanced facial contours, tightens underlying muscles, and minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The platysmal bands that have been mentioned can also be vastly diminished, and the chin and jawline can be given youthful contouring.


Incisions and Scars from a Neck Lift Surgery

Your surgical incisions will be in strategic areas that can often be concealed, sometimes behind the ear or under the chin or both; but your Surgeon will detail the planned approach that will get you the best neck rejuvenation results with the most minimal of scars. The results will improve the appearance of the neck quite dramatically, and will provide a firmer and more youthful jawline; but you may be recommended to combine your necklift with skin rejuvenation treatments (lasers, peels or light based therapies) or a combination neck lift with a facelift (SMAS or Round Block) or eyelid lift surgery.medik8-best-skincare-products-redness

Many neck lift procedures take between one and a half to three hours to complete. The difference in length of surgical time depends on the surgical approach and the amount of work being done to the neck and/or facial area.

Combined Rejuvenation for the Neck: Surgery & Non-Surgical Options for Neck Rejuvenation

If you’re skin is in need of rejuvenation or collagen improvement to reduce wrinkles, improve it’s appearance and get a better overall result, your Plastic Surgeon will advise you of whether these skin rejuvenation treatments will occur prior to the surgery, after surgery, or – most likely – both.

Examples might include Healite II treatments, Laser Resurfacing, Deep Skin Peels or other high-tech skin treatments along with cosmeceutical skin care used at home (Obagi, Medik8, PCA Skin, DNA Renewal and Cosmedix).

Healing After a Neck Lift:  What should you do in terms of best recovery protocols after a Neck Lift surgery for best healing?

Your Surgeon will give you detailed post-op instructions and a Rapid Recovery pack. It’s important that you follow these instructions carefully and ask your Surgeon any and all questions you have about getting a good recovery from your neck lift procedure.  You may also be offered Healite II treatments to facilitate your healing; along with similar types of scar minimisation advice if pertinent to your surgery.

Post-surgery, you may well experience some discomfort, but it is often considered minimal by most patients. If necessary, you will be provided with pain medication by your Surgeon, but most patients take over-the-counter pain medications and manage very well.  Sleeping can be slightly uncomfortable during the acute stages of healing, and you’ll be given specific instructions about how to position your head and neck.

Surgical recovery, down time from regular activities, and overall healing time often depend upon which procedure(s) you’ve had, your genetics, your overall health, and your dedication to following your Surgeon’s post-op instructions.  Rapid Recovery packs and Healite II treatments may also help to facilitate your healing and recovery.


Post-op is a time for recovery and healing. You WILL need to take good care of yourself and rest well after your neck lift procedure.

One great piece of advice for post-surgery healing is to have someone who can help take care of you or run errands for you, for the first week after your procedure.  Make certain this person supports your surgical decision and is non-judgmental, as it can be an emotional roller coaster for you after surgery – usually it’s not, but it can be whilst you’re healing, especially if you feel confronted by post-op swelling or bruising (which does resolve).neck-lift-surgery-300x133

You should also typically drink lots of water to stay well hydrated; eat healthy foods and avoid too much salt.

It can also help to avoid any alcohol or too much caffeine. Plus, you’ll definitely want to NOT smoke as you heal, for best healing results. Smoking can increase your surgical risks and healing time, including leaving you more prone to wound breakdowns and more visible scarring as well as infections or even more serious complications – so if you want surgery, quit smoking well in advance of your surgery.


A most important factor in recovery from necklift or other facial surgery is patience.

Neck lift or facelift surgery might only involve a few weeks of downtime, or a few days or a week off from work.

But you still shouldn’t expect rapid results. You will need to allow your body to heal and recovery, and be gentle with yourself and follow all of your Specialist’s Post-Op instructions.

In general, as you heal:

  • you might have tightness around your neck area
  • swelling and bruising are not uncommon but be sure you check with your Surgeon if you feel it is beyond the amount you’ve been told to expect OR if you have any concerns whatsoever
  • you will often need to sleep upright for a few weeks to aid the swelling and assist healing
  • the effects of the Anaethesia will also be leaving your body, which can leave some people feeling a bit more emotional than normal.

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Be sure you have a good supportive person (or friends) around you and be sure to contact your Surgery team with any questions or concerns.


How long with the effects of neck lift surgery last?

Every patient is different – so is the expected longevity of any particular procedure.  There are many factors than can extend longevity or shorten it, some controllable and some not.  Ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details.

In general, the longevity of a neck lift may vary between 5 years to 10 years or more. It often depends on your skin health, collagen levels, genetics, overall health – and your Surgeon’s precision. The care you take of your health and your skin, including your exposure to the damaging rays of the sun, is important BEFORE and AFTER your neck lift surgery.


As with any other cosmetic surgery, your age, your overall health, the elasticity of your skin, and your willingness not to smoke and to avoid the sun, will all be factors in determining how long you have a smooth, youthful neck.

Not all neck lift procedures are equal.

If you want a highly experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeon who can get you a long lasting, natural-looking result, contact us today by sending an enquiry or phoning us during clinic hours on (03) 8849 1444.


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Download our free guides or phone (03) 8849 1444 today – and ask for a no-obligation consultation.


Last updated: 14/11/2018
Author profile image
Dr Geoff Barnett
Dr Geoffrey Barnett, FRACS (Plas) is a Melbourne based Specialist Plastic Surgeon who has over 35 years of expertise in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon for Cosmetic Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Body Contouring Surgery after Bariatric Surgery. Qualifications and Memberships: Specialist Plastic Surgeon (FRACS) Member - Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery [FRACS (Plast). The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) is the only professional body recognised by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) to train Surgeons in Australia and New Zealand. Author BIO page: https://plasticsurgeons.com.au/dr-geoff-barnett/