Neck Lift

At Buckhead Plastic Surgery, Atlanta

If you have ever been bothered by the appearance of a "turkey neck," you're not alone. For many people, aging skin loses its elasticity and gravity takes over, leaving wrinkles, sagging neck skin, and vertical bands between the chin and neck.

Depending on the degree of laxity, there are minor, non-invasive treatments like BOTOX® in addition to surgical treatments such as neck liposuction that can make your neck look better. For some patients, a neck lift is the best option.

Problem: Vertical neck bands, turkey waddle, wrinkles and sagging neck skin

Solution: Neck lift

What Is a Neck Lift?

As the neck ages several changes occur. These changes include loosening and descending of the fatty tissue, accumulation of extra fatty tissue, loss of skin elasticity with sagging, drooping and wrinkling, sometimes called a "turkey waddle." This results in loss of the jaw line and neck angle with poor definition between the jaw line and the neck line.

Wrinkles are also present and there is no defining angle between the chin and the neck. A youthful neck tends to have a square angle beneath the chin with definition between the mandible and the neckline.

A neck lift tightens the skin and muscles on the neck. Modern neck lifts extend below skin, repositioning the underlying facial muscles called the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) as well as reducing excessive skin and fatty tissue.

To best determine what is right for you, come in for a consultation. We are qualified and experienced in these procedures and have the skills to help you choose which procedures will obtain your goals. Each of your features will be individually examined as well as how they combine with the face as a whole. Then we can define what to correct, how much to correct and how it will all play together to make you possibly look years younger without the appearance of having surgery.

How It's Done

Neck lifts can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, in a hospital, or in ambulatory surgical facilities. Our neck lift is performed in an office surgical setting that is fully accredited with AAAASF. We always recommend an overnight stay during which we can monitor the special care that you need in the initial 24-48 hours following this procedure.

Dr. Alan N. Larsen performs neck lifts under general anesthesia, although in some cases local anesthesia with sedation is used. Neck lifts should only be performed by board certified plastic surgeons and qualified facial plastic surgeons.

The neck lift procedure is tailored to each patient's specific conditions. Along with the neck lift, many of Dr. Larsen's patients have a facelift, chin implant, blepharoplasty or brow lift. Chin augmentation can enhance the overall results.

Carefully placed incisions are made just just in front of the earlobe, around the back of the ear and into the hairline. An additional incision may be placed directly beneath the chin. If a chin implant is going to be used, it can be placed through this same incision.

The neck is usually liposuctioned first, followed by opening the plane between the skin and underlying muscles using direct vision. Excessive fatty tissue is removed and sculpted. Once the underlying structure and support has been firmly redefined, SMAS is tightened, the standing formed by the platysma muscle is sutured together in the midline and the skin is draped over the new foundation.

The excess skin is carefully removed and the incisions closed. Incisions are typically closed with staples in the hairline and small sutures in the exposed skin areas. Care is taken not to remove too much skin which would give the neck an unnatural look. Skin that has been pulled too tight will not give you a longer lasting result and may lead to complications.

Your results depend on your skin tone, your anatomy, and the goals outlined prior to surgery. A great neck lift outcome also depends on meticulous attention to the details during the technical portion of the procedure.


Following surgery, your neck may be swollen, pale, pink, and numb. Specialized ice packs will be placed on your neck. These ice packs will help with the swelling, discomfort and bruising. Most patients experience some discomfort but don't complain of severe pain.

Some physicians use drain tubes. Dr. Larsen usually does not place any drains. Most patients reabsorb any excess fluid that may accumulate. Initially you'll have a dressing on your neck. It will be removed within a couple of hours of your waking up from the surgical procedure. Our trained professionals will remove this dressing and start your specialized ice packs.

Additionally some physicians place you in a supportive compression garment. We have not found the need to do this at Buckhead Plastic Surgery. Soft cold compresses for the first 48 hours should be followed by warm compresses. Strictly keeping your head elevated with no movement leads to a speedy recovery. Patients usually eat a soft diet for the first day and then resume a normal diet. As you heal, your neck will feel tighter for the first week or two.

Assistance from a responsible adult is critical to decrease the possibility of complications and lead to a good outcome. Downtime is clearly a concern of patients having a neck lift, especially with younger patients. Healing is a progressive process, controlled by mother nature. Usually at 4-5 days the stitches are removed despite swelling and noticeable incisions. Patients are usually ready to venture outside at this time.

As with any surgery, wearing sunscreen and a hat to protect the healing skin from the sun is essential. Bruising may persist along the neck and upper chest for several weeks. In a few weeks you will see a younger version of yourself. Complete healing will continue under the surface of the skin for quite some time. It is not uncommon for mild swelling and small lumps and bumps to take one to two months or more to resolve.

What to Expect

Initially after surgery you will be sleepy. You will find that you are sore but not in pain. Over the next week or so the bruising or ecchymoses resolves, swelling reduces, and you notice your new neckline. Your neck will feel tight over the first few days after surgery and you will go through a phase where your skin feels tight followed by a slow transition to normal feeling.  By one month you should look very good and by three months you should look great. Expect 4-6 weeks to return to full activity.


Risks of surgery include bleeding beneath the skin, fluid collections, loss of skin temporary, hair loss at the incision sites and thickening of the scars. An asymmetry is possible, although most likely only noticeable to you. Keep in mind that before surgery, one side of your neck did not match the other side. There is an extremely rare complication of nerve injury.

You may also need minor revisions to achieve your goals when tissues begin to loosen. The hardest skin to tighten is that which lies directly below your chin. You will notice loosening in this area. As with any surgery there are the risks associated with anesthesia. Your skin will also be tight and you will experience numbness for several months. These are not considered risks of surgery. Please see informed consent neck lift for a more complete list.

Recovery Timeline

  • Discomfort the first night.
  • Strict head elevation for the first 10 days to two weeks after surgery. Discomfort resolves quickly over the first 2-3 days.
  • Your neck will feel tight 4-5 days after surgery.
  • Sutures are removed 4-5 days after surgery.
  • You may return to a normal routine10 days to two weeks after surgery.
  • Most patients return to work about 1-2 weeks after surgery.
  • Skin and neck start to soften somewhere around 3-4 weeks after surgery
  • You may resume full activity 4-6 weeks after surgery.
  • Continue skin care, diet and exercise to maintain results.

Complementary Procedures

Chin augmentation can enhance the mandibular angle and chin.

Brow lift surgery rejuvenates the forehead, tightening the skin, smoothing the creases and raising the brow for a more alert, happy look.

Eyelid surgery removes the excess skin from the eyelids, removes puffy bags, fills in the hollowness and restores a lifted youthful lower eyelid and cheek region.

Skin resurfacing with a laser can be used around the eyes or around the mouth to smoothen and tighten the skin.

Learn More about Neck Lift Surgery

Do you need more information about neck lift surgery? Contact the Atlanta office of double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alan N. Larsen. We are located in the Buckhead area of North Atlanta. Call (404) 367‐9005 to inquire about a consultation.