WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Non surgical approaches include resurfacing techniques (lasers, chemical peel, etc). A neck lift is a surgical procedure which can tighten the skin of the neck and hence reduce wrinkles, folds and some fine lines. The effects can last for up to ten years. A separate face lift may be needed to tackle facial wrinkles. Problems with the saggy eyelids will not be solved by a facelift (rhytidectomy) and separate eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) may be needed. These procedures may be done simultaneously.
WHAT DOES THE OPERATION INVOLVE?
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes 3-4 hours. There are several different techniques that can be used but in general the surgery involves a scar that runs under the chin and/or into the hairline behind the ears. Using these incisions the surgeon can then peel the skin away from the muscles of the neck. The skin can then be pulled tight, stitched in place, and the excess skin can be trimmed away and discarded. If you decide on surgery you will be required to undergo some simple health checks and photos will be taken to show the appearance of your face before surgery.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS?
There are general risks associated with a general anesthetic such as aspiration of stomach content into the lungs which can cause serious illness or death. Therefore, to help prevent this it is mandatory that you do not eat or drink anything (usually 8 hours) preceding your surgery. Other risks include DVTs, (clots in the veins of the legs) which can break off and travel to the lungs, this is known as an embolus and although very rare, can be life threatening; especially in smokers. You will be encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as possible to reduce these risks. Bleeding under the skin leads to bruising but excessive bleeding that collects under the skin is known as a hematoma. In some cases, this requires a second operation. For most people the scars will fade and become virtually invisible. Some people have a tendency to form red raised scars and these can be a problem. Wounds can be slow to heal and this is particularly true if they become infected. Smoking also increases the chances of problems with the scars. Damage to the nerves which supply the muscles and skin of the neck can lead to weakness and some altered sense of touch or numbness. Most patients are very satisfied with the outcome of surgery but it is not possible to know exactly what a patient will look like after the operations. It is important to talk to your surgeon about your expectations and the limits of surgery before the operation.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE OPERATION?
You will need to have someone drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after surgery. You will have bandages around your neck. There may also be some small tubes connected to a small bottle to collect any oozing or bleeding. These assist in your healing process and should only be removed by your surgeon. You may experience some discomfort which should be alleviated by the pain medications. You should expect your neck and face to be bruised and to feel swollen and tight. This can take several weeks to subside. You will be given specific advice before you leave, but in general you should avoid vigorous activity and bending down for a few days. It is advisable to sleep with several pillows to keep your head higher than the rest of your body. You will not be able to wash your neck for a few days. Stitches will be removed within one week.
WHEN CAN NORMAL ACTIVITIES BE RESUMED?
You can start wearing makeup after about 4 days. You can return to work when you choose, but due to the bruising and swelling, most people chose to have a couple of weeks off until things have settled down. You should avoid the sun for 6 weeks and after that always apply sunscreen.
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