A neck lift is performed to improve the appearance of the neck and chin margin. This can be done alone if the patient is unhappy with the appearance of their neck, but happy with the appearance of the face and cheeks. It is commonly done in conjunction with the facelift, as it is more common to have aging of both the face and the neck. If only a neck lift is required, similar incisions to the facelift are used; however, the majority of the incision is behind the ear and in the scalp regions rather than in front of the ear. There is also a small incision just beneath the chin to tighten the platysma muscle, which lies just beneath the skin of the neck and helps give the neck its shape. The neck lift has similar recovery to a facelift and will require a drain for one day. A band is worn around the neck for approximately 1 week to decrease swelling, bleeding, and to improve the contour of the neck during the healing period.
Risks with a neck lift are possible, as with any surgery. A collection of blood called a hematoma is a possible complication usually seen in the first 24 hours after surgery. If an extensive surgery is performed, drains are placed and the patient is either monitored in the hospital or at home with a nurse for the first night to watch for any hematoma formation. Infection is possible but very unlikely. Problems with wound healing are possible, especially in patients who smoke and therefore a more conservative lift would be required to decrease the chance of complications.
Scars will be present after the surgery, but are most commonly fine white lines that are very easily hidden. Widening of the scars can occur if tension is placed on the skin during the surgery, therefore this tension is avoided. Any wound healing problems would also lead to greater scarring. Asymmetry of the neck is also possible. No two sides of the neck are the same and this will also be the case after surgery. There are techniques that can be used to make the two sides of the neck more symmetrical, but slight asymmetries are expected and normal for the procedure.
When the skin is lifted from the underlying tissue, there will be numbness in the area of the skin treated with the surgery. This numbness resolves slowly with time. There is a rare risk of injury to the nerves of the face and neck, which could cause muscle weakness of the face causing asymmetry.