Treating Neck Sagging or "Turkey Neck"

What is Neck Sagging?

saggy neck treatment gold coast
Image sourced from RestockBeauty

Aging is a natural process that affects everyone. One of the main effects of aging is its effect on the skin, especially the facial and neck skin. The aging process on its own can destroy the elastic network of the skin and cause deterioration of the structure of the skin, resulting in loose and saggy neck skin. Sagging neck skin is further enhanced by the effect of risk factors like stress, UV exposure, excess weight loss, and poor skincare routine. However, it’s also important to note that in some cases, the formation of jowls may be hereditary. This blog will discuss neck sagging solutions and compare neck liposuction and neck lift surgery as treatment options.

As the skin ages and loses its elasticity, it begins to droop. In the case of the neck skin, this appears as neck jowls which is also known as ‘turkey neck’. This sagginess of the neck skin, in most cases, occurs before the sagging and droopiness of the facial skin but can destroy the facial aesthetics all the same.

Drooping neck skin is not only caused by the presence of loose skin. It can be a result of muscle laxity and the accumulation of stubborn fat in the neck. This can exaggerate the sagginess of the neck and the droopy appearance of the jowls.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon, Dr Doyle has over thirty years of experience. He regularly treats saggy neck conditions using neck lift surgery or neck liposuction procedures on the Gold Coast.

What Are The Effects of Neck Sagging?

Sagging of the neck skin can make you feel insecure and lower your self-esteem and confidence. This consequently results in low self-worth and eventually, impairment of personal and social relationships.

Neck sagging does not only have mental burdens but also physical and aesthetic burdens. In fact, neck sagging can add several years to your age and make you look older than you actually are. This further worsens the mental burdens of the sagginess of the skin. All of the effects of the sagginess of the skin are interconnected and worsening of one, will eventually worsen the other. If you lack self-confidence due to your saggy neck and it’s damaging your personal relationships, tightening the neck can help you take charge of your life again.

Treatment of Neck Sagging

Neck sagging is a serious physical and aesthetic problem that can be treated using one of the two ways; Neck Liposuction and Neck Lift. Depending on the extent of the sagging of your neck skin and your expectations and goals from the procedure, you can choose either one of the procedures to treat your jowls.

Both a neck lift and neck liposuction refine and contour the neckline – but they work in different ways and one procedure may be more suitable for your condition than the other. If you are bothered by excess fat in the chin and neck area, neck liposuction may give you great results. If your skin is very lax and sags, a neck lift will be a better option for you. These options are based on individual characteristics and can be discussed in more detail during an individual consultation.

Neck Liposuction Vs Neck Lift

turkey neck surgery cost

Neck Liposuction

Neck liposuction, much like any other liposuction, is performed with the purpose of removing stubborn fat from the chin, along the jawline, and the neck. This procedure, however, is not very helpful or useful in treating excess skin or fixing the elasticity problem in the skin.

Neck liposuction is usually recommended for younger patients with good elasticity of the skin so that when the fat has been removed, the skin can bounce back and tighten on its own. This procedure only fixes the issue of excess, stubborn fat in the neck region that does not go away with any amount of exercise.

Neck Lift

A neck lift is a surgical procedure performed with the purpose of removing and repositioning excess skin from the neck to enhance the natural contours of the skin and make the neck appear slimmer. This procedure targets the issue of muscle laxity and loose skin and tries to solve those issues.

This procedure is recommended for those who have an exaggerated appearance of the jowls and are bothered by the appearance of their neck jowls. This patient is typically older than those who are good candidates for neck liposuction. This is commonly performed as part of a facelift procedure and the loose skin from the neck is removed through an incision along the hairline behind the ears.

Eligibility Criteria for the Procedures

To be eligible for either of the procedures, you should be physically and mentally healthy. You should also be a non-smoker and have realistic goals and expectations from the procedures. It’s important to mention that you should only decide to go through with either of the procedures only for yourself and not for anyone else. Your age and the elasticity of your skin play an important role in determining your eligibility for either of the procedures.

How are the procedures performed?

Neck Liposuction

The neck liposuction procedure can be performed under local anaesthesia and usually takes up to thirty minutes. For the procedure, a small incision will be made under the chin. A liposuction probe or cannula will be inserted through this incision. Any stubborn fat in the neck region will be removed through these cannulas and your neck contours will be sculpted accordingly. After the desired results have been achieved, the cannula will be removed and the incision will be sutured. The sutures used in this procedure are dissolvable meaning that they do not need to be removed after the procedure. This marks the end of the liposuction procedure.

Neck Lift

The neck lift procedure is quite different from the liposuction procedure and is often done for moderate to severe cases of sagging of neck skin. This procedure takes longer than liposuction, usually anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours. For this procedure, general anaesthesia will be used.

The loose skin from the neck is removed through an incision along the hairline and behind the ears. Dr Doyle will then remove excess fat from the neck and repair any damage to the underlying muscles. The fascia or the layer of connective tissue on the platysma/neck muscle will then be lifted and tightened from both sides, to enhance and sculpt the natural contours of the neck.

 If there are vertical bands of muscle in the neck an incision is also made under the chin and these muscle bands are sewn together. This is known as a platysmaplasty.

All of the above can result in a significantly slimmer, more refined neck and jawline and a younger appearing neck.

Recovery Period After Sagging Neck Treatment 

Neck Liposuction

Neck liposuction is often performed as an outpatient procedure which means that you can go home the same day as the procedure. The recovery period for the neck liposuction procedure is approximately 1- 2 weeks long and you will be required to wear a neck support garment to support the new contours of your neck. This should be worn full time for the first 5 days following your surgery and then at night. Recovery is usually marked with swelling and some bruising that will resolve on its own by the end of the first week after the surgery. There may be slight discomfort and pain that can be easily managed using pain management medication prescribed by Dr Doyle.

During the recovery period from liposuction, it is important to not partake in any sort of physical activities that may put pressure on the incisions and potentially complicate the healing process. You should also refrain from smoking as it can result in infections that can not only alter the healing process but also ruin the end results of the procedure. You should also abstain from drinking especially when taking medications to ensure that the results of the procedure are maintained and your incisions heal properly.

You can typically go back to work three to four days after the procedure and fully go back to doing your daily life activities by the end of the recovery period. However, it is recommended to speak to Dr Doyle before starting any sort of physical activity to ensure that your wounds have healed.

Neck Lift

The recovery period is quite similar for all cosmetic procedures but the duration often varies depending on the extent of the procedure. Since neck lift is an invasive surgical procedure, the recovery procedure can take several weeks, ranging from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. Unlike the liposuction procedure, the sutures used for the neck lift need to be taken out, usually between day 5 and day 10 after the surgery.

Much like the neck liposuction procedure, there may be marked swelling, discolouration, and discomfort after the procedure that can be treated using pain management medications prescribed by Dr Doyle. It is important for you to follow Dr Doyle’s recommendations for the recovery period to receive the full benefits of the procedure and minimise the risk of complications.

Risks and Complications of the Procedure

Neck liposuction procedure and neck lift procedures, like any other cosmetic and surgical procedures, have certain risks and complications associated with them that you should consider in depth before making a decision about going through with either of the procedures.

Neck Liposuction

Neck Liposuction is not as invasive as a neck lift procedure but there are still risks and complications that need to be kept in mind. Some of the main risks include:

  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthesia
  • Numbness of the skin
  • Persistent Bruising and discolouration of the skin
  • Fat embolism
  • Fluid accumulation, also known as a seroma.
  • Irregular contours of the neck
  • Infection of the incision
  • Incision separation and asymmetric wound healing
  • Injury to surrounding structures

Neck Lift

Risks associated with neck lift procedure include:

  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthesia
  • Bleeding and Infection
  • Collection of blood under the skin (haematoma)
  • Excess skin loss
  • Asymmetrical wound healing
  • Thick scar formation
  • Nerve injury
  • Injury to surrounding structures

It is important to note that most of the risks associated with both of the procedures can be minimised by choosing an experienced specialist plastic surgeon, like Dr Doyle.

How to Improve Wound Healing

The right nutrition helps your body to fight infection, accelerates healing, increases your strength and energy and also maintains your nutrient stores. In short, it may help you to have an easier recovery.

To maximise the healing timeline and quality of your wounds, you should be willing to eat well in the weeks leading up to and following your surgery. We’ve outlined the recommended nutritional advice for optimal wound healing on our website for you to follow.

Combination Surgery

Apart from the specific features of each procedure, your decision to undergo either of the procedures can be influenced by the presence of other areas of your face that you would like treated.  Being able to combine certain surgeries and achieve your desired goals can help you choose one option over the other.

You can combine the following procedures with your neck liposuction and neck lift procedure to enhance the results of your cosmetic surgery:

The main aim of undergoing these procedures simultaneously is to receive the benefits of multiple procedures but only undergoing one recovery period and the surgical procedure once. This is why combination surgeries are often preferred by patients. You can speak to Dr Doyle about combining the procedures to improve your overall facial aesthetics.

How to Choose Between Neck Lift and Neck Liposuction?

loose neck skin at 40

Cosmetic surgery has many benefits ranging from the improvement of physical appearance to increased self-worth. It can improve your self-image and give you the confidence boost you deserve and need. Each cosmetic surgery has 3 phases; the consultation phase, the surgical phase, and the recovery phase. So far, the surgical and recovery phase has been discussed. The consultation phase is the first and the most important phase of the procedure when you make a decision about whether or not you have the procedure.

It is during your initial consultation with Dr Doyle that your options will be discussed and you can choose between a neck lift or neck liposuction procedure. You should be extremely candid with him about your expectations and goals from the procedure. You should also discuss with Dr Doyle exactly what it is that bothers you about the appearance of your neck.

This honest conversation when combined with the physical examination and assessment by Dr Doyle will make it very clear which procedure you should go for. If you have excess fat in the neck with good quality tight skin then neck liposuction may be recommended.

If you have severe laxity of the neck skin, then a neck lift procedure may be recommended. Based on your expectations and your worries, Dr Doyle may recommend some associated procedures so that you can undergo a combined surgery procedure to achieve the results you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best procedure for neck tightening?

If your neck is loose and saggy, the best procedure for you is likely to be a neck lift.

What is the best procedure for a double chin or neck fat?

If you are bothered by excess fat in the chin and neck area and you have tight neck skin, neck liposuction may give you the best results.

What causes turkey neck?

A turkey neck is caused by the neck muscles becoming weak over time, as well as the neck skin losing its elasticity. This is a normal part of the aging process. If present in your young adult life, “turkey neck” may be a result of genetic factors.

Will losing weight help turkey neck?

Losing weight slowly through diet and exercise can help decrease the fat deposits around the neck. If you have neck fat and minimal loose skin, weight loss can help to reduce the size of your neck. Your neck skin may tighten and bounce back.

If you don’t have excess fat on the neck but still suffer from turkey neck, losing weight is unlikely to help as the skin will not tighten through diet and exercise alone.

How long do neck lifts last?

The results of a neck lift can last between 10 and 15 years. However, over time and with age, gravity and other environmental factors will continue to impact the neck skin. Sagging can return, but will not be as significant.

How long does neck liposuction last?

In many instances, the results of neck liposuction may last between 7 and 10 years. Maintaining your ideal weight will give you the best long term results. However, the aging process affects each person differently, and as a person gets older, the results of chin liposuction may gradually disappear.

Is a neck lift worth it?

Dr Doyle’s patients are usually very happy after undergoing a neck lift surgery. The procedure has a 94% Worth It Rating from RealSelf members.

Can neck lift be performed with neck liposuction?

A neck lift can be performed to remove excess skin and liposuction can be performed to remove any excess fat. These can be done in the same procedure.

Book a Consultation

Book a consultation with Dr Doyle to get the advice of a specialist regarding your saggy neck, and discuss any sagging neck solutions which may be available to you.

Medical References:

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About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plast) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon

Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.

Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures.

He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.

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*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.