It’s a fact of life: as you get older, the skin around your neck, cheeks and chins loses its elasticity and starts to sag. Fortunately, you live in a time when there are myriad ways to combat the signs of aging, from injections to surgery. If sagging skin is your major concern, surgery is typically the way to go, as it provides long-lasting results and effectively tightens the skin.
Two surgeries commonly performed on the lower portion of the face are the facelift and the neck lift. While each procedure targets a similar area, they are considerably different and have different goals.
What Facelift and Neck Lift Do
One thing that a facelift and a neck lift have in common is that they both aim to tighten skin or eliminate excess skin from around the face. No matter which surgery you choose, you can expect to see your skin tightened and loose muscle removed or tightened.
Both surgeries also take a considerable number of years off of your appearance. Typically, a facelift or a neck lift will take around 10 years off of a person’s looks. How much younger you look after recovery depends on when you have either surgery and how significant the signs of aging were before the procedure.
Incisions and Procedures
Although both surgeries tighten skin and muscles, the big difference between the two is the area they treat and where the surgeon makes the incisions during surgery. A facelift, for example, targets the cheeks and jowls. During the procedure, the surgeon makes incisions near the ears, either right in front of the ears or inside of them, depending on the patient. The remaining incisions are made along the hair line, so that they are well covered and not particularly visible after healing.
The surgeon focuses on removing extra fat from the cheeks and jowl area, as well as tightening the underlying tissue and the skin, creating a smoother, more youthful look.
During a neck lift, the surgeon makes the incisions near the ear, as well as underneath the chin. The surgery focuses on reducing sagging skin or extra fat beneath the chin. In some cases, a neck lift can involve trimming away the long muscle, called the platysma, which runs along the neck. The surgery is often combined with liposuction of the neck to remove extra fat and eliminate the appearance of a double chin.
Anesthesia During Surgery
The type of anesthesia used during a facelift or neck lift can vary. In some cases, a surgeon might use twilight sedation, meaning the patient isn’t aware of what’s going on during the surgery and won’t feel anything during it. But, the patient isn’t fully under. More complicated facelifts or neck lifts may involve the use of general anesthesia. When a person receives general anesthesia, he or she is completely under, won’t remember the procedure, needs assistance breathing, and needs to be fully monitored.
What Recovery Is Like
Since a facelift and a neck lift are both invasive surgeries, the recovery time after either is typically similar. Usually, you can expect to need to take anywhere from five to 10 days off of work after your surgery. The exact amount of time you need to allow for recovery depends on the type of surgery you had. For example, if you had a full facelift or full neck lift, you can expect to need the full 10 days to rest up and recuperate. If you had just neck liposuction to remove extra fat only, you might only need to take about five days off from work to recuperate.
No matter how complicated your surgery, the good news is that recovery is typically not very uncomfortable. Any pain or discomfort you feel can be managed with pain medication, which your surgeon will prescribe. Bruising and swelling are common, but you can take steps to minimize those. For example, using a cold compress and keeping your head elevated will help bring swelling down and minimize bruising. For the most part, the most noticeable bruising and swelling often fades within the first two weeks after your surgery.
Although you can get back to most activities within about 10 days after your surgery, some things will remain off limits. For example, your surgeon will most likely advise waiting a few more weeks after either a facelift or a neck lift before you return to the gym or start any other exercise program again.
Choosing Between a Facelift or Neck Lift
In the end, is a facelift or a neck lift better for you? It really all depends on where your primary concerns are. If you look in the mirror and notice that your cheeks are drooping or that deep, set-in folds are forming near your nose and mouth, a facelift might be the better option. If your major concern when you look in the mirror is the so-called turkey’s neck or a double chin, a neck lift can be the better pick. It’s also possible that you’d benefit from combining the procedures, having a facelift and a neck lift at the same time to rejuvenate the entire area.
At the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland, Dr. Jessica Kulak is an aging face specialist who performs neck lifts and facelifts frequently. To learn more about either surgery and to see if you’re a good candidate for one or the other, or even both, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulak today. Call (703) 481-0002 for an appointment in Virginia or (301) 222-2020 for an appointment in Maryland.