What is Neck Contouring Surgery?
Neck contouring creates a firmer, smoother and more refined appearance to the neck and chin. Even without making any other changes to the face, improving a thick, wrinkled or sagging neck can dramatically improve one’s appearance, helping a patient look years younger or even as though he or she has lost weight. Neck contouring can also help restore balance to facial features by providing a better-defined jawline that frames the rest of the face.
Neck Contouring Options
Neck contouring isn’t defined by a surgical technique, but rather the patient’s aesthetic goals. A cosmetic surgeon will use a completely different surgical approach for a patient who wants to reshape a full chin versus a patient who wants to eliminate a sagging “turkey neck.” Neck contouring can be performed as a single procedure, or be combined with other facial cosmetic surgery procedures for more comprehensive improvements.
Do you feel that you have an excessively full or “double chin,” despite being at a healthy weight? Liposuction of the neck can achieve a better defined, more graceful neckline by permanently
Because liposuction removes excess fat, but cannot significantly improve sagging skin, the typical neck liposuction patient will be younger, his or her 20’s through early 50’s, as younger patients typically have good skin elasticity, which is necessary for the skin to contract smoothly and evenly after liposuction. Learn more about liposuction techniques.
For most patients, neck liposuction is a fairly quick procedure, and many times it can be performed using local anesthesia. Through 1 or 2 tiny incisions, concealed beneath the chin or behind the ears, a cosmetic surgeon insert a small liposuction cannula, removing excess fat and sculpting a natural contour to the chin and neck. Following the procedure, patients typically wear a special supportive chin strap for about 3 or 4 days, return to work within 1 week, and be ready to return to full activity after about 2 weeks. It is typical to experience some swelling and bruising after neck liposuction; this should resolve during the first 10 to 14 days after surgery.
Considerations & goals with neck liposuction:
- Improves the appearance of a “double chin” or fullness underneath the chin
- Refines the jawline to enhance the chin or bring balance to facial features
- Patients with good skin tone will typically see the best results
- Can be combined with chin augmentation or rhinoplasty to further enhance facial contours
- Results are permanent so long as a patient maintains a stable weight
Neck Lift Surgery
If you are bothered by sagging, loose skin on your neck, then a neck lift surgery procedure, may provide a solution. You may hear neck lift surgery referred to as cervicoplasty (to remove excess skin) or platysmaplasty (to tighten loose neck muscles). Cosmetic surgeons will perform one or both of these procedures to tighten loose neck muscles and remove excess, sagging skin, restoring a smoother, firmer, and better-defined appearance to the neck.
A neck lift procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. Your cosmetic surgeon will make a small incision behind each ear, and depending on your needs may also make a third small incision underneath the chin. Through these incisions, he or she will tighten the neck muscles and/or underlying tissues and remove excess, sagging skin to restore a smoother, firmer, and more youthful appearance to the neck.
Recovery time after a neck lift will depend on the individual, as well as the extent of surgery. Typically, patients return to daily activities, including a return to work, within 2 weeks after surgery. Expect your neck to feel tight for a few weeks, and know that bruising and swelling are normal. These effects should subside gradually, with visible bruising typically gone after the first week, and that “tight” feeling remaining for up to several months. Your cosmetic surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions for recovery and aftercare.
Considerations & goals with neck lift surgery:
- Reduces or eliminates a “turkey neck” by removing excess, sagging skin
- Smoothes out wrinkles and creases throughout the neck
- Improves the appearance of vertical neck bands
- Results are long-lasting and will age naturally with a patient
- Can be combined with a facelift for more comprehensive facial rejuvenation
Non-Surgical Neck Contouring Procedures
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures are becoming increasingly popular for their non-invasive nature and minimal recovery time, and neck contouring is no exemption. If you want to improve the appearance of your neck without surgery, you have a few options, which we’ll discuss here.
- Botox. When most people think of Botox, the face comes to mind. However, Botox is also very effective at temporarily treating dynamic wrinkles in the neck. A neck lift using Botox is also referred to as a “Nefertiti lift” because patients can expect their neck to look longer and thinner after treatment, like the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. During a Botox neck lift, your cosmetic surgeon or nurse aesthetician will inject Botox into the platysma band of muscles (the muscles that stand out when you flex your neck) to reduce the appearance of turkey neck and define the jaw. Neck lift results using Botox typically last between 3-4 months. Learn more about Botox »
- Fillers. Dermal fillers made of hyaluronic acid or calcium hydroxylapatite can be injected into the neck and jawline to plump up sagging skin, fill in wrinkles, and improve skin tone. Dermal filler neck lifts, also known as “liquid neck lifts,” last for approximately 6-12 months, depending on the brand of filler. Because these fillers encourage collagen production, patients can expect to notice smoother, more youthful-looking neck skin in the months following their injections. Popular fillers for a non-surgical neck lift include Restylane and Radiesse. Learn more about dermal fillers »
- Kybella. Kybella is an injectable formula comprised of deoxycholic acid that eliminates fat under the chin and in the upper neck. Kybella is often used to treat patients struggling with a “double chin,” a notoriously difficult area to sculpt without liposuction. Similar to liposuction, fat cells that are treated with Kybella will no longer be able to store fat, meaning you can expect to keep weight off in this area for good. For optimal results, most cosmetic surgeons recommend 4-6 Kybella treatments spaced 1 month apart. Results typically appear 4-6 weeks after your first injection.
- Microneedling. Microneedling uses tiny needles to create “micro-injuries” in the skin to increase collagen & elastin and trigger fibroblast cell growth. Microneedling can quickly improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, and more on the neck and décolletage with little-to-no downtime. Popular microneedling brands include Dermapen and SkinPen.
Microneedling can also be combined with radiofrequency (known as “RF microneedling”) to heat deep layers of the skin via insulated needles to encourage further collagen growth and tissue tightening. Popular RF microneedling brands include Morpheus8 and Genius.
While many companies offer DIY microneedling kits, it’s important to choose a board certified cosmetic surgeon to perform your microneedling procedure, as neck and décolletage skin is very thin and can be easily damaged.
- Ultherapy. Ultherapy is a newer technology that relies on ultrasound energy to tighten skin. When applied to the neck, Ultherapy can lift and tighten deep layers of skin and underlying muscles. Ultherapy is a great way to preview the results of a surgical neck lift to see if you want to pursue the procedure later on. Most patients see a noticeable difference in their skin quality 2-3 months after their Ultherapy treatment. Similar to other non-surgical skincare treatments, Ultherapy stimulates collagen production in the skin for a noticeably smoother, younger-looking neck. Learn more about Ultherapy »
- Fractional CO2 laser treatment. Fractional CO2 lasers have been proven to improve skin quality and skin tone in the neck with long-lasting results. Fractional CO2 lasers are considered the gold-standard for skin resurfacing because of their effectiveness in treating advanced signs of skin aging. By heating skin from deep below its surface, fractional CO2 lasers can increase collagen in the neck without damaging surrounding tissues. And because they’re fractional—meaning the laser is dispersed across the treated skin in “fractions”—these lasers require minimal downtime. Popular fractional CO2 laser brands include MiXto Pro and Fraxel.
Combining Neck Contouring & Facial Procedures
As the face, eyes and neck work together to create a person’s facial appearance, it is common to combine face and neck procedures to achieve a patient’s goals. Doing so helps to ensure smooth, refined lines and a naturally balanced appearance. Below are some of the common procedures that patients choose to accompany their neck contouring surgery:
- Facelift. It is rare that a cosmetic surgeon will perform a facelift without also incorporating some element of neck contouring. Combining a facelift and neck lift allows a cosmetic surgeon to address jowling, sagging cheeks, and lax neck tissues in a single procedure. Learn more about facelift surgery »
- Chin augmentation. A skilled, qualified cosmetic surgeon can insert a custom-fit chin implant during a neck liposuction procedure, typically using the same incisions, to refine the neckline and add definition to a weak or receding chin.
- Rhinoplasty. Balanced proportions are key to an attractive face. Reshaping the nose to better fit a patient’s face while also improving the jawline can dramatically enhance this sense of balance. Learn more about rhinoplasty »
Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon
Improving the appearance of the neck requires a surgeon to understand the unique relationship between the anatomy of the face and the neck, and how each contributes to a patient’s natural appearance. To perform neck contouring safely and successfully, a cosmetic surgeon must have experience in multiple facial cosmetic procedures as well as a highly-developed aesthetic eye. However, many doctors who practice cosmetic surgery do not receive adequate training in aesthetic face and neck surgery in their residency training, so it’s important to do your homework before choosing a cosmetic surgeon.
Choosing a board certified cosmetic surgeon ensures that your surgeon is specifically trained and experienced in cosmetic surgery, including all facial procedures, and that your procedure will be performed in an accredited surgical facility. Read our tips for choosing a cosmetic surgeon.
When consulting with a potential cosmetic surgeon, ask about his or her experience with neck contouring, facelift surgery, and liposuction, and view before and after photos of prior neck contouring patients during your consultation—this will help you get a feel for a cosmetic surgeon’s aesthetic style.
When performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, neck contouring can achieve dramatic improvements with small changes. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your face, neck or chin, consulting with a board certified cosmetic surgeon can help you learn more about your options to make lasting changes. We invite you to use our ABCS Find-a-Surgeon tool to find cosmetic surgeons in your area.