Turkey neck surgery, also known as neck lift or platysmaplasty, is a cosmetic procedure to reduce the appearance of sagging skin and wrinkles in the neck area, which is often associated with aging.

Platysmaplasty can involve a combination of techniques such as liposuction, removal of excess skin, and tightening of the underlying muscles.

This article looks at what to know about turkey neck surgery.

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The term “turkey neck” describes a common aesthetic concern where the skin on the neck appears loose and wrinkled, often hanging or sagging in a way that resembles a turkey’s wattle.

This condition is primarily associated with aging but can also result from significant weight loss, genetics, and sun damage. As the skin ages, it loses its elasticity and firmness, leading to this sagging appearance.

Platysmaplasty is a cosmetic procedure specifically designed to address this concern.

The primary purpose of a neck lift is to change the appearance of the neck and under-chin area by addressing several aesthetic concerns. Key goals of this procedure include:

  • Reducing sagging skin: As people age, skin loses elasticity, leading to sagging. This surgery removes excess loose skin, resulting in a tighter, more youthful neck appearance.
  • Contouring the jawline and neck: The surgery can create a more defined jawline and neck contour by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the underlying muscles.
  • Reducing excess fat: If there is excess fat in the neck, such as a double chin, liposuction may remove this fat, further refining the neck’s contour.
  • Correcting muscle banding: Age can lead to the appearance of bands around the neck due to muscle laxity. The surgery can alter or tighten these muscles, resulting in a smoother neck surface.
  • Changing overall appearance: By addressing these issues, turkey neck surgery can contribute to a more rejuvenated and refreshed overall appearance. If someone feels their neck area does not match their facial appearance or their overall vitality and energy levels, they may opt for a neck lift.

A neck lift involves the following steps:

  • Anesthesia: The procedure begins with the administration of anesthesia. This could be general anesthesia, where a person is completely asleep, or local anesthesia combined with sedation.
  • Making the incisions: The surgeon makes small incisions, typically around the ears and possibly under the chin. The placement and length of the incisions depend on the extent of the surgery and the specific techniques the surgeon uses.
  • Removing excess skin: The surgeon removes or repositions excess skin to create a smoother, more youthful neck contour.
  • Tightening the muscles: In cases of muscle banding in the neck, which can create abnormal contours, the surgeon might tighten the platysma muscles. They can do this by stitching the muscles together or removing a portion of the muscles.
  • Liposuction: If there is excess fat in the neck, the surgeon might perform liposuction to remove it. This involves inserting a small tube, or cannula, to suction out fat.
  • Redraping the skin and closing the incisions: Once the surgeon has made the necessary adjustments, they redrape the skin over the new neck contours and close the incisions with sutures. These sutures may be dissolvable or may require removal after a few days to a week.

Preparing for turkey neck surgery may involve:

  • Medical evaluation: People may need to undergo medical tests to ensure they are fit for surgery.
  • Adjusting current medications: The surgeon might adjust a person’s current medications and advise them to avoid certain medications and supplements that can increase bleeding.
  • Quitting smoking if applicable: Smoking cessation is crucial, as it can impair healing.
  • Fasting: Doctors may instruct people to fast for a certain period before the surgery.

Immediately after the surgery, a person’s neck might be wrapped in bandages to reduce swelling and bruising. Small tubes might be in place to drain any excess blood or fluid.

The surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for the surgical site, which medications to apply or take orally, and when to follow up with them.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) lists the following possible risks of neck surgery:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • anesthesia complications
  • poor wound healing
  • persistent swelling and pain
  • fluid accumulation (hematoma)
  • skin numbness
  • skin discoloration or irregularities
  • skin loss
  • facial asymmetry
  • nerve injury causing weakness of the lower lip
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • hair loss at the incision site
  • problems with stitches erupting through the skin or causing irritation
  • poorly concealed scarring
  • unsatisfactory results requiring corrective surgery

Results of neck lift surgery may vary based on individual factors such as skin elasticity and age.

According to the ASPS, the average cost of a neck lift is $6,267. This cost may or may not include:

  • anesthesia fees
  • facility costs
  • medical tests
  • postsurgery garments
  • medication prescriptions
  • surgeon’s fee

The surgeon’s fee will likely depend on the surgeon’s experience and where they practice. A person should ask their plastic surgeon for a cost breakdown and whether they offer payment plans.

Health insurance plans do not typically cover neck lift surgery.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about neck lift surgery.

Can you tighten a turkey neck without surgery?

There are several nonsurgical methods to alter the appearance of sagging skin on the neck. These alternatives may suit people seeking less invasive options. They include:

  • Neck exercises: Exercises targeting the muscles of the neck and lower face can help improve muscle tone and reduce the appearance of sagging.
  • Topical treatments: Products containing retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C can improve skin texture and may provide modest tightening effects.
  • Radiofrequency treatments: Thermage or Ultherapy treatments use radiofrequency or ultrasound energy to heat the deep layers of skin, stimulating collagen production and leading to tighter skin over time.
  • Botox injections: Botox can relax the platysmal bands in the neck, reducing the appearance of sagging skin in some instances.
  • Fillers: Dermal fillers may add volume and change the contour of the neck and jawline area.
  • Microneedling: This treatment involves creating tiny punctures in the skin to stimulate collagen production and smooth skin texture.
  • Thread lifts: This minimally invasive procedure uses absorbable sutures and provides a temporary lifting effect by pulling the skin taut mechanically.

Is turkey neck surgery painful?

Turkey neck surgery may involve some discomfort and pain during the procedure and recovery. However, people can manage their pain with medications.

After surgery, it may take several weeks to months for swelling to subside and incision wounds to heal, revealing the results of the procedure.

Sometimes, further surgery is necessary to achieve the desired results.

It is important to protect the incision wounds from excessive force, rubbing, or movement. It is also advisable to avoid wearing clothes that go over the head.

Neck lift surgery is a cosmetic option for people looking to address loose, sagging skin on the neck. Aging is the most likely cause of loose skin but sun damage can also be detrimental.

Neck lift surgery may involve removing excess skin, tightening the appearance of muscles, and liposuction.

While the surgery can substantially improve appearance and self-confidence, there are risks involved. The results may not become clear for several months, and further surgery may be necessary.