How to Take Years off Your Face: The Neck Lift

Apr 18, 2017 | Body, Facial Procedures, Plastic Surgery | 0 comments

Your age shows on your neck perhaps more than on any other place of your body. A sagging, wrinkling turkey wattle can add years and years to someone who would otherwise still appear youthful. A neck lift can take decades off of your face, and it is a safe and well accepted cosmetic procedure, though less well-known than other face lift procedures.

The sagging neck usually begins to appear when we are in our forties, but may appear much earlier than this when there is a strong hereditary influence or with a history of obesity followed by loss of a significant amount of weight. Other causes are usually a combination of excessive fat deposits underneath the chin, the natural pull of gravity, the harsh effects of sun and wind, and normal collagen breakdown with age. Years of smoking will exacerbate collagen loss, causing loss of your skin’s elasticity, and earlier onset of a sagging neck.

The most common problems that are remedied by a neck lift are:

  • excess fat around the neck
  • loose or sagging skin beneath the chin (the turkey wattle)
  • vertical bands of the muscle of the neck

When you meet with your plastic surgeon, be frank about your aesthetic goals regarding your appearance. There are many conditions that may be effectively remedied by a neck lift, but not every patient is a good candidate. Prior medical conditions, allergies, drug addictions, current or prior medications, general health, and the cause for the drooping beneath your chin must be considered. There are several different ways of achieving a neck lift, including surgery, liposuction, and botox, or a combination of these. After listening to your goals, your surgeon can help you to determine which of the following procedures will best suit your needs.

What is a neck lift?

A neck lift can be one of several procedures, and not all are invasive. The most common form of a neck lift is actually a combination of liposuction and surgery to remove or tighten the muscles and remove excess skin beneath the chin. Some patients may also desire chin augmentation to more fully define their jawline.


The turkey wattle is a band of muscle and skin, that often includes fat, which runs from the chin to the middle of the neck. Rather than showing the proper angle of the chin in your silhouette, the profile of the neck will appear as a drooping line from chin to mid-neck or chest.

To begin, your plastic surgeon will make an incision under your chin or behind your ears (or possibly both) in order to access the neck muscle called the platysma. This muscle, when weakened with age, will droop to create the band of the turkey wattle. In some cases the surgeon will not only tighten the muscle with sutures, but may also remove excess muscle.

If the appearance of the turkey wattle is due to sagging skin, your surgeon will trim parts of the skin away, lift it into place and secure it with stitches or staples. This procedure is often used in conjunction with liposuction.


This procedure is typically used in conjunction with a neck lift, and is performed to remove the excess fat from around and beneath the chin. The surgeon will make a small incision below your chin through which an instrument is placed in order to remove the fat. If liposuction is the only cosmetic surgery being performed, the procedure will last approximately one hour. Typically, only local anesthesia is needed, plus a mild sedative to relax the patient.


If the condition of the turkey wattle is minor, Botox injections may be used instead of, or in addition to, the neck lift surgery. Botox injections are able to relax the portion of the platysma muscle that is responsible for the ‘band’ appearance. These injections are performed in the office and take only approximately 15 minutes when performed alone.

What To Expect

A normal neck lift surgery may take between 1-4 hours, depending on the severity of the condition being treated. Discuss with your surgeon what type of anesthetic will be the best option for you. Most surgeons will require that if you choose a local anesthetic, that you take pain medication and an anti-anxiety medication prior to the surgery.

You will need to bring along a friend or family member to take you home following the surgery. If you have the full neck lift you will also require someone to be with you the full 24 hours following the surgery. On the day of your procedure, prepare a ‘sick bay’ in which you may recover. Stock this area with pillows, blankets, a phone within your reach, gauze and bandages, a thermometer, ice packs, and comfortable clothing that will not need to be pulled over your head, but instead, button up the front.

Recovery time is usually between 10 and 14 days. During this time it will be important that you do not participate in activities that require exertion. Rather, you should rest as much as possible. You will experience bruising, swelling, and moderate pain that may be controlled with oral medications, in addition to a feeling of tightness as you heal. Your doctor will advise you on what activities may be enjoyed, possible dietary restrictions, and pain management. You must not smoke for four weeks prior to and four weeks following the surgery. If you will require smoking cessation prescriptions, discuss this with your cosmetic surgeon during your initial consultation.

How do I decide which option is best for me?

The best way to determine which treatment option is right for you is to consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, such as Dr. Bryan McIntosh, who will provide you with a personalized treatment plan, and whose staff will assist you in every step of pre-treatment, the procedure, and recovery.

Click to schedule a personalized consultation now.