The neck is often one of the “give-aways” of a person’s age. Over time, loose skin, wrinkles and excess fatty tissue may make your neck less smooth and attractive than it used to be. Both women and men, as they age, often focus on the neck as an area that bothers them. Women most often will elect to undergo a facelift and neck lift as a single procedure. Men, on the other hand, sometimes will inquire about treating the neck alone. Facelift incisions are designed to smooth and tighten not only the lower face but also the neck area. The design of these incisions may vary from patient to patient and according to the plastic surgeon’s personal technique. When necessary, a small incision under the chin allows for the removal of fatty tissue and smoothing of the cord-like structures of the underlying neck muscle. When the incision heals, it will be only barely visible with the head tilted up.
While the popularity of facelifts among men is increasing, some men opt to treat the neck area without undergoing more extensive facial surgery. There are several possible techniques for treating the neck alone. The choice of technique will depend on the condition of the neck and overlying skin, and the surgeon’s preference. For a fatty neck with predictably good skin elasticity, lipoplasty (liposuction) alone produces good results. Other techniques use internal stitches to tighten muscles and improve the neck contour. Occasionally, for patients with a great deal of loose skin, an incision can be made down the front of the neck in a discreet pattern that blends with natural lines and creases. This procedure is recommended only for patients who are willing to accept the subtle, but visible, scar. Men with weathered, creased facial and neck skin often are the best candidates for this approach.
People in their 20s and 30s also may seek cosmetic plastic surgery to correct the appearance of a “fat” neck. Because their skin and muscles are in good condition, these younger patients are prime candidates for treatment with lipoplasty to remove excess fat.
The contour of your chin also is important to the appearance of your neck. A chin that lacks adequate projection will make the neck seem shorter, while a more prominent chin contour complements the graceful curve of the neck and makes the neck seem longer and more elegant. There are two techniques for adding prominence and contour to your chin. One, performed through an incision inside the mouth, requires moving the chinbone forward. The other approach, which is more commonly used, involves insertion of a small implant. The incisions to insert the implant may be made inside the mouth or on the underside of the chin, leaving a faint scar that is barely visible.
Because the skin on your neck tends to be delicate, your plastic surgeon will approach any skin resurfacing treatments to this area with extra caution. One of the easiest, safest and most popular methods for improving the texture and appearance of neck skin is microdermabrasion, which uses a stream of mildly abrasive particles to remove dead skin cells and smooth fine wrinkles. Multiple treatments are needed to achieve results. Other types of skin treatments may be recommended by your plastic surgeon, depending on the condition of your skin and your goals for improvement.
Sun protection is a “must” for maintaining a beautiful neck. Be sure to apply sunblock on a daily basis and, if you are involved in outdoor activities, select a product with at least an SPF 30. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat also helps to protect your face and neck. Remember, 90 percent of the visible aging of your skin is caused by sun exposure. The rest is due to other factors including heredity, smoking, nutrition and stress.