What to Expect After a Neck Lift

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
50 year old headshot before and after

Neck lift surgery can correct and improve signs of aging in your neck. As you get older, your skin becomes less elastic. Loose skin and muscle, along with fat buildup, can make the neck sag. Jowls may develop. A neck lift can lift and tighten sagging skin in your neck and jawline so you look younger.

Before your operation, make sure you talk with your surgeon about all the risks and benefits. It's important to know what to expect before you have the surgery.

Neck Lift Recovery at Home

A neck lift usually takes 2 to 3 hours. You will have intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. You can go home after you recover from the anesthesia, but someone else will need to drive you.

You may have a small tube in your neck to drain fluid that collects under your skin. You will have sutures at your incision sites. You also may be sent home wearing a tight bandage. The bandage will help reduce swelling. It can take several weeks to months for swelling to fully subside and you see the full results of your neck lift.

Most people need about one week at home to rest and recover from neck lift surgery. Make sure you have someone who can help you during this time. Follow your doctor's specific instructions. Your doctor may recommend you:

  • Wear your bandage day and night for the first week. You may continue to wear it at night for a while afterwards.

  • Take pain medicine on a regular schedule, as directed by your surgeon. Do not take any over-the-counter pain medicines without asking your doctor.

  • Use a cold compress to reduce pain and swelling. Do not put ice directly onto your skin.

  • Keep your head raised when lying down.

  • Avoid long hot showers and steam baths for a few months. You should be able to take a cool shower the day after your procedure.

  • Avoid strenuous activities for two weeks.

Most people can return to work within two weeks. If you have a strenuous job or a job that requires heavy lifting, check with your doctor first before going back full time. You may have to modify your work load or schedule.

Your surgeon removes the drain in your neck about two days after your operation. The surgeon will take out your stitches 5 to 10 days after your surgery.

Call Your Doctor With Concerns

Common side effects after surgery include bruising, swelling, tightness, numbness and tingling. These side effects can last for a few weeks. However, you should call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever

  • Swelling, bleeding, bruising or redness get worse

  • Pain does not go away, even after you take pain medicine

  • Blood or fluid leak from your incision

Have Realistic Expectations

A neck lift can help you look younger and feel better about your appearance. Many studies show that people who have cosmetic surgery are pleased with the results and have increased self-confidence. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what a neck lift can and can’t do. A neck lift won’t turn off your aging clock. You will need to continue to take care of your skin. This means avoid sun exposure as much as possible, always wear sunscreen, and follow a healthy lifestyle.

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  1. Necklift Surgery, Johns Hopkins Medicine. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/facial_plastic_reconstructive_surgery/cosmetic_procedures/necklift/
  2. Neck Lift, Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_Neck_Lift 
  3. Plastic surgery: Beauty or beast? American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep05/surgery.aspx
  4. The wrong reasons to get plastic surgery, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. http://www.surgery.org/consumers/plastic-surgery-news-briefs/wrong-reasons-plastic-surgery-1051114
  5. Neck Lift. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/neck-lift.html.
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 12
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