The reasons that a patient may want to pursue a procedure to improve the appearance of the neck varies tremendously. For those with loose neck skin, neck bands, or double chin issues, Dr. Ward tailors a surgical approach that is individualized for the patient. This procedure can range from simple neck liposuction alone to excess skin excision to a formal necklift with platysmal plication. This latter technique is the most effective technique, because it does not merely stretch the skin, but rather, it lifts the neck and removes the jowls creating an improved jawline from the deep muscular tissue underneath. The neck lift procedure is often performed in combination with a face lift procedure.
There are risks associated with neck lift surgery. Choosing an experienced, board-certified surgeon who specializes in facial plastic surgery, like Dr. Ward, will help minimize the results of complications during your surgery.
When choosing a surgeon to operate on any part, experience is the most important factor to help maximize the chances of a good result. Many surgeons perform neck lift surgery and may even be board certified to perform the procedure, but may not have had much training in the procedure. Ask your surgeon how many facial and neck procedures they performed in residency. There are many plastic surgery residency programs where the residents finish their training having performed only a few facial procedures. In addition, even if the surgeon received good facial plastics training, it may not be a central portion of their practice. For example, a plastic surgeon might perform many surgeries, but those surgeries might be mostly breast augmentation or liposuction, which are drastically different from facial plastic surgery. The bottom line is that you want to be sure your surgeon has the utmost training and experience in facial plastic. You should choose your facial plastic surgeon with the upmost care.
Another thing to consider about your neck lift or neck liposuction is what goals you hope to accomplish. Sometimes patients know they don’t like their current neck, but can’t put this concern into words. To help determine the specifics that might bother you about the neck, such as a loss of jawline contour, jowl formation, sagging neck, deep creases, or wrinkles, consider objectively looking at your face and neck in the mirror and see what you would change if you could. Keep in mind that the lower face and the neck are in continuity. A lot of patients who are concerned about their neck are actually bothered by the lower part of the face. If this is the case, you may need a facelift as the necklift alone is unlikely to be of benefit.
Take notes about what bothers you and bring those to the consultation with Dr. Ward. These notes can be invaluable in identifying issues that bother you and will help ensure that you don’t forget any concerns during the consultation or before surgery.
The consultation is the chance for you and your surgeon to meet and get to know each other. This relationship is important for several reasons. You should feel comfortable with your surgeon to ensure that you are on the same page before surgery and that you will feel comfortable voicing any concerns or questions before and after the surgery.
Dr. Ward will evaluate your neck and talk to you about your desired results. He will give you honest and realistic expectations and inform you of any potential risks involved. These risks can vary based on each individual person so it is important to be honest and up front during your consultation. Risks associated with facelift include bleeding, infection, swelling, scarring, nerve damage (loss of sensation or facial weakness), poor cosmetic result, bruising, amongst others. These risks are all uncommon, but are important for patients to know about prior to surgery. Our aim is to decrease the probability of each of these complications from happening and will do whatever we can to prevent them from happening.
Follow up after neck lift is important and you will be seeing your surgeon frequently following the procedure. This is to help ensure that you are healing properly and that you are happy with your results. We are committed to making sure you heal properly and that you are happy with the result. If you are not happy, we WANT TO KNOW! It can take 18 months before you are fully healed and we will monitor you carefully during this period to ensure proper healing.
Prior to the procedure, you will have a pre-operative history and physical exam performed to ensure that there are no health concerns prior to your procedure. You will be given instructions on what to do before, during, and after the day of surgery and you will be given prescriptions for medications that you will need to take after the procedure.
In general, you should avoid anything with aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other medication, such as Advil, Motrin, any blood thinners, some herbal supplements etc for 3-4 weeks prior to the procedure and 2 weeks after the procedure. This helps reduce the bleeding during the procedure and the degree of bruising that you will have after the surgery.
The procedure will be performed either in our private surgical suite or in an operating room under an anesthetic that is designed to (1) maximize the safety of the procedure, (2) ensure your ultimate comfort during the procedure, and (3) minimize your recovery and get you back on your feet and back to normal life as soon as possible. Unless there are other complicating medical issues that you have, the procedure is always performed as an outpatient surgery allowing you to avoid staying overnight in the hospital and go home and recover.
For our out of town patients, special arrangements can be made for you to stay overnight with medical oversight.
After surgery, you will have a dressing on the face and neck that helps decrease the swelling and bleeding from the procedure. This is usually removed by our staff after 24-72 hours depending on the patient. You will also come in to the office to have sutures removed 6-10 days after the procedure. We will then see you at one month and then every few months afterward so we can follow your progress and ensure you are healing properly.
Bruising will occur. This usually goes away by around a week, but may persist for about two weeks. The majority of the swelling will subside in the first few weeks, however there can be swelling that can last for several months. Patients can return to work whenever they feel up to it. For some patients, that might be 3 days after surgery; for other patients, it might be 10-14 days. We usually like our out of town patients to plan to stay until one week after surgery to ensure the face is healing properly before you travel home.
In the weeks and months following surgery, we will closely monitor your healing. This is extremely important, because we will need to monitor for any unusual scar tissue that may develop. If these changes occur, we will be able to treat them appropriately.
The final thing to expect after surgery is an experience that will leave you happier than you were before the surgery! We aim to make every part of the experience as pleasant as possible and are confident you will be glad you had your procedure performed.