When Real Housewife Sonja Morgan debuted her refreshed look last year (courtesy of New York facial plastic surgeon Andrew Jacono, MD), the headlines touted “facelift,” as many mentions of its close cousin, the necklift, only appeared after a scroll.
While the less-talked-about procedure may have been buried a bit, experts say it’s well-deserving of some very serious anti-aging accolades.
“You can bet that almost everyone who gets a facelift also gets some kind of neck improvement. For best results, the two go hand in hand,” says La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD, adding that two more-recent takeaway “trends” he’s seen in the category are more men getting the procedure, as well as a younger patient demographic.
Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD concurs, adding that, although there’s been some minor modifications to the necklift equation, the best way to look at the formula is that a facelift is a necklift combined with a cheek lift. “A necklift improves the loose skin, excess fat and muscle bands of the neck, as well as any loose tissue along the jawline known as a jowl,” he explains. “A facelift improves the droop of the lower part of the face, including the area next to the corner of the mouth and the folds on either side of the nose, as well as lifting drooping tissue back onto the high point of the cheek. Almost any time you perform a facellift, you also perform a necklift.”
Also citing the past couple of months as a “big one” for the procedure at his practice, Nashville, TN plastic surgeon Daniel A. Hatef, MD says it’s safe to say he’s been performing more necklifts than ever before. “I don’t know if we can credit it to the ‘Zoom Boom,’ but patients and prospective patients are very, very interested in the surgery,” he explains. “I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that people are realizing they can spend all this money on their face, but if their neck doesn’t match, it’s really all for not.”
And the stats don’t lie: While the Aesthetic Society numbers weren’t in for 2020 as of press time, the necklift experienced an increase of almost 12% since the year prior, with men receiving almost 17 percent of that total.
Is “tech neck” a real thing?
The term “tech neck” may be thought of as being caused by looking down at devices, but Dr. Sanders says it’s not necessarily the main culprit. “That may accentuate neck creases, but it is rarely the sole reason for increased creasing. Sun damage, age, weight fluctuation, poor skin quality, and cigarette smoking are some of the more significant reasons for the neck skin to age at a faster rate.” Dr. Hatef adds that, “It is a real thing— and it is a natural part of spinal aging. The best thing that you can do is make sure that you aren’t looking down for long periods of time, and doing neck stretches and muscle tone exercises.”
While all the experts we interviewed said nonsurgical neck-improvement options won’t produce the same results as the standard lift, they did point to some solid solutions that can deliver results—in the right patient. “The important thing is that you don’t fit the patient into the procedure; you find the right procedure for the patient,” Dr. Singer stresses. “These are not one-size-fits-all applications.”
The Lipo Lift: Dr. Singer recommends the mini-liposuction route for younger patients who have some fullness in both their face and neck (when the fat is in front of the platysma muscle), but good skin tone.
Machine Magic: Radio-frequency and skin-tightening treatments won’t work for severe laxity, neck bands or deep fat, but they are a popular choice that offers temporary improvements, while helping with lines and wrinkles.
Necklift Via a Needle: Utilizing injectables—aka, “Botox for neck bands,” as well as fillers off-label—shows results quickly, but needs to be repeated.
Threadlift Track: Although Dr. Singer calls the use of threadlifts promising, he’s hesitant to categorize the results associated with the procedure as anything other than “too early to tell,” stressing that “long-term satisfactory results have yet to been shown scientifically.”
Crepiness Cure: Microneedling with PRP (which is categorized as off-label by the FDA and does not currently have long-term data) is also allowing for improvement of the crepiness of the neck skin. “That is something necklifts do not do well,” Dr. Sanders says.
“In my experience, the procedure is primarily requested by men; however, many women can greatly benefit from it as well,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD. “Either way, just like many other facial cosmetic procedures, necklifts are at their peak right now.”
What’s more, Dr. Vasyukevich adds, is that the procedure has had a “very positive evolution” over the past decade. “Necklift techniques have been continuously evolving over the last 10 years. Both the quality and longevity of the results has greatly improved, as a new multimodality approach to face and neck cosmetic surgery, as well as utilization of the technological innovations, have resulted in the more effective and naturally appearing rejuvenation.”
Likewise, Leesburg, VA plastic surgeon Phillip Chang, MD, who strongly cites Zoom for stimulating patients to “pay attention to their neck,” says, in addition to more refinements in the field for longer-lasting, more natural results, he has also seen a progression in “taking a more complete” approach. “Now, we complement necklifts with Botox for the platysma bands, and filler for horizontal lines from movement. We also use PRP, which can increase the quality of skin and speed healing.”
Another new development in necklift surgery that Dr. Sanders says is rather “involved,” includes manipulating the glands beneath the platysma muscle. “In many cases, fullness along the jawline may be due to fat, as well as enlargement of one of the salivary glands. Shaving this submandibular gland can improve the contour of the jawline, but it can be dangerous. Others will shave the digastric muscle in the front of the neck that lies beneath the platysma muscle. This may also improve contour in that area—and, at the end of the day, the main goal of these surgeries is to improve contour.”
They won’t offer surgery-like results, but these neck-centric picks deliver some serious décolleté-perfecting power.
Decorté AQ Concentrate Neck Cream ($150); African Botanics Intensive Recovery Cream ($350); FaceGym Multi-Sculpt Tool ($60); Valmont AWF5 VNeck Cream ($295); DefenAge 6-Week Perfection Neck Tightening Cream ($127)
“When I’m choosing the right neckline shape and accessories for a client, I always consider the shape of their shoulder line. The idea is to create a slimming effect across the shoulders. In order to do that, the proportions need to be balanced. If you have a blazer with large, avant-garde shoulders, your neck details should be minimal, like a small, thin necklace, and the neckline should be a deeper ‘V’ to create negative space. Using negative space between the shoulder line and neckline will help with the balance. This will help you decide whether you want a larger statement necklace or something smaller.” —Tiffany Briseno, celebrity stylist
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