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What is a lower rhytidectomy?

Also called a neck lift, this is a surgical procedure that corrects the signs of aging in the neck and under the chin and jaw. This is achieved by removing excess fat and loose, sagging skin in the area. A neck lift can also remove muscle banding in the neck, to smooth out the contours of the neck. It can be performed in conjunction with a brow lift, eyelid surgery and a fat transfer to rejuvenate lips and cheeks.


A neck lift will result in a smoother, more youthful looking neck that has significantly less wrinkling and sagging flesh. It can also remove heavy creases, a double chin, a ‘turkey neck’ and jowl lines. A neck lift will not affect your facial area, and will not stop the ageing process, but can make a dramatic difference to the appearance of your neck area.


How do I plan for my neck lift?

Before you make the decision to have this procedure, your surgeon will discuss whether the surgery is suitable for you, and what features you’d like to correct, to ensure that you’ll have realistic expectations and will know what can be achieved.

He or she will need to know your medical history, and what medications you take.

You’ll have a physical examination of your neck and face and your surgeon will take photographs for reference. Many surgeons use software which can show the results that are possible and help you see what the final outcome will be.

What is the procedure for a neck lift?

Your surgeon will use either a traditional neck lift incision or a limited incision, depending on the requirements of the procedure.

The traditional incision is the longer one, extending from the front of the ear to the back of the neck. During the procedure, the surgeon will tighten the platysma muscle in the neck, move or sculpt fat, and reposition neck tissue. Excess skin will be removed when the skin is re-draped over the area.

A separate incision will be made under the chin if liposuction is needed in this area or to repair the muscle.

In a limited incision neck lift, the incisions are made only around the ear. These are shorter incisions, but the results may be less dramatic. Incision lines are closed with sutures and the incision lines are usually hidden within the hairline.

How should I prepare for a lower rhytidectomy?

Before your surgery you may be asked to stop smoking for 2 – 4 weeks prior to the procedure. Nicotine retards the healing process, and quitting for as long as possible before surgery helps improve blood flow.

You will also have to have a blood test before surgery is performed.

You should stop taking certain medication, like aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs.

Avoid recreational drugs, and disclose to your surgeon any other medication you’re taking, since you may need to adjust these. Be sure to arrange for transport to and from the clinic, since you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.

Where will my neck lift surgery be performed?
The surgery will be performed in one of our fully equipped operating theatres.
What anaesthetic will be used for my neck lift?

For this procedure, you will be sedated intravenously or put under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon may prefer a specific method, and will discuss all options with you.

How do I recover from my neck lift?

Most people who have this procedure are able to safely leave the clinic the same day after surgery. Few patients need to stay in the clinic overnight.

You will experience some discomfort in the first week, but medication will help ease the pain. You will probably be able to return to work and normal activities within two to three weeks.

You should start walking or moving about as soon as possible as an increased blood flow helps to minimise swelling and helps prevent blood clots. You should avoid strenuous activities like heavy housework and exercise for at least two weeks after surgery, avoid alcohol and smoking and minimise your sun exposure. Do not use hair dyes or other hair products containing strong chemicals. Ask your surgeon to advise you on this. Don’t use saunas, spa baths or steam baths while recovering.

What can I expect after my neck lift?

Apart from some pain and tightness, there may also be some numbness, tingling, swelling and bruising, but these are seldom severe. The swelling, bruising and other side effects can take weeks or even months to subside, but as this happens, you will see the results of the surgery.

When can I return to normal activities?
You should be able to return to work and other daily activities within two or three weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will instruct you on how to care for your sutures and the treated area, and may advise you to use a cold compress to help reduce swelling.
What are the risks involved in lower rhytidectomy surgery?

As with any major surgery, there are some risks, which include bleeding, infection as well as the general risks associated with anaesthesia.

Light swelling and bruising are normal and temporary, as is some general discomfort and changes in sensation in the neck area, as well as some scarring

Other risks that are specific to neck lift surgery include hair loss around the incision area, asymmetry or uneven lines, and hematoma. Nerve injury near the lower lip can occur, but is very rare.

Your surgeon will discuss all the risks with you and give you advice on how to minimise risks and side effects.

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