Written by Shawn Candela for Avima.com

A lower rhytidectomy is commonly known as a neck lift and is a type of cosmetic surgery performed under either general anesthesia or local anesthesia and sedation, depending on the specific procedure being used and what the doctor deems necessary. The surgery itself can be traditional or limited, depending on the extent of the work to be done.

Traditional neck lift

In a traditional neck lift, the surgeon makes an initial incision in the patient’s hairline, usually at about temple level, continue around the patient’s ear, and ends in the back of the head, also in the hairline. Another small incision might be needed just below the chin. However, modern procedures have lessened the need for most lengthy incisions, and it is common for them to be made only behind the ears and under the chin. The extent of the incisions will be based on how much work the cosmetic surgeon believes will be needed on the patient.

After making the incisions, the surgeon will insert a small cannula — a thin type of tubing — to remove, redistribute and sculpt fat in the neck and around the jaw and chin. Often, the muscles at the side of the neck known as platysma muscles are tightened.

Following the tightening of muscles and redistribution of fat, the surgeon will reposition the skin to get it to fit smoothly over the cosmetic changes, including removing excess skin if necessary.
When the surgeon has finished with the neck lift, he will close the incision with sutures or skin glue.

Limited neck lift

In a limited neck lift — also known as a mini neck left — an incision is made only around the patient’s ear. While this is a less-invasive procedure, it also offers more limited results. Recovery and scarring is also kept to a minimum.

Preoperative requirements

One part of the entire neck lift procedure that is not part of the surgical aspect is the preoperative steps undertaken by the patient. For as long as several weeks before the neck lift is performed, the patient will be required to refrain from using tobacco or excessive alcohol, eating overly sugary or fatty foods, or taking some medications, including blood thinners.

Other considerations

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, neck lift procedures will last for many years and are often performed in combination with other cosmetic surgery options in order to give a more well-rounded appearance to the face and neck. For example, facelifts typically include at least a partial lifting of the neck because doing so allows the surgeon to achieve a better balance among all of a patient’s features.

Another common addition to a neck lift is the use of chin augmentation. In these procedures, the surgeon insert a customized chin implant while performing liposuction on a patient’s neck. This can help both with tightening of the neck skin and overall appearance by adding definition to a weak chin.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons explains that part of the overall neck lift procedure includes recovery. Patients are often administered a bandage around their neck and face in order to keep bruising and swelling to a minimum. A small tube might also be inserted under the skin to allow excess fluid or blood under to drain.

In addition, patients will be told to keep their head and posture as straight as possible to avoid bending the neck and affecting the operation results. They also should keep their head elevated above their heart to limit swelling and use prescribed postoperative medications as directed.

The society also urges patients to refrain from the use of ice to address swelling and soreness in the neck, and rely solely on medications and rest. The use of ice can limit blood flow in the affected areas and cause skin death.