The neck is one of the first parts of the body to begin showing signs of age, and these changes can quickly age the face overall. Many people look in the mirror one day sometime during middle age, and realize that their neck area looks loose, with soft, sagging skin and a “double chin”. As time goes on, this can become more extreme, culminating in an appearance that is known as a “turkey wattle” for its resemblance to the hanging skin on a turkey’s beak and neck. But what causes this phenomenon, and what can you do to fix it?
How the Neck Ages
As we age, the body slows down the production of collagen, an essential structural protein that helps keep skin firm, supple, and strong. Depleted collagen levels cause the skin to sag, which, along with loose muscle structures in the chin that weaken with age, can contribute to an aged appearance in the neck. How fast this process occurs is entirely individual, and depends on a number of factors, including environment, genetics, and lifestyle. The skin on the neck is very thin, and prone to early aging, as collagen levels tend to be lower in this area. Hanging jowls, turkey wattle, and loss of chin definition are all consequences of the aging neck.
Options for Treatment
There are two main methods for improving the look of the aging face. Both options are types of necklift surgery, and the technique that is most appropriate will depend on the patient’s goals, the type of aging, and the severity of the aging. Here is a basic overview of the two types of necklift:
Submental Platysmaplasty (Mini Neck Lift)
A technique generally most appropriate for patients in their 30s, the submental platysmaplasty is a limited mini lift that focuses on just the submental triangle—the area under the chin. The procedure involves the tightening of the muscles in this area for long-lasting rejuvenation. This can be combined with facial liposuction or other procedures to improve the appearance of a double chin or mild jowls.
Complete Neck Lift
A full neck lift takes the benefits of a submental platysmaplasty a step further by tightening the neck overall, removing and tightening sagging skin where necessary. The neck lift is a comprehensive procedure that addresses sagging skin, excess fat, and muscle laxity that all contribute to the turkey wattle appearance. Generally, a full neck lift is necessary for good results in reducing a turkey wattle.
Surgery and Recovery
Generally, neck lift procedures are performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia or IV sedation. Incisions are made either in the crease of the chin or around the ears, depending on the type of lift being performed.
Though the recovery process is different for each patient, most people are able to return to work within a week or two, with all stitches being removed by about 7-10 days following the procedure. Swelling will go down gradually, and it takes a few months to see the final results.
Today, plastic surgery is very customizable, and reputable plastic surgeons will recommend the best procedure or procedures for you when you begin consulting with prospective providers. A neck lift may be right for you if you have a turkey wattle, but in some cases, a face lift or other procedure is the best choice.
Aside from the procedure that is best for reaching your aesthetic goals, you will need to be a good medical candidate for surgery, which typically means you must be in general good health and have realistic expectations about your results.
Starting the Process
No matter what procedure you might be interested in pursuing, you will need to start the process by meeting with qualified facial plastic surgeons to discuss your goals and candidacy. You should only consult with board certified surgeons, and make sure to use your time wisely, asking specific questions and getting to know each surgeon. You should never choose a surgeon who does not make you feel at ease and comfortable with the situation.
If you are looking for expert help in the Boston area, come to Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033), Massachusetts and meet with acclaimed, double board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Stuart Bentkover. Dr. Bentkover has over 25 years of experience in facial rejuvenation and would be happy to help you plan your procedure. Call either location today to schedule your consultation.