The Surgeon Minute

Feel Good About Your Neck At Every Age

Feel Good About Your Neck At Every Age

If the turtle neck is your new best friend, you are likely one of many searching for ways to improve the area between your chin and shoulders – the NECK! Compounding the issue are a vast amount of beauty fixes for the face – Botox and non-invasive treatments may only make the neck standout, and any accompanying loose skin, excess fat, or unflattering rings seem to show up even more. That being said, there is help for a lot of common complaints. As Dr. Clifford Clark explains, there’s a great approach to restoring a youthful appearance to the neck, but one size does not fit all when it comes to a treatment plan.

By Dawn Tongish
and Clifford Clark, MD

Treatment For the ‘Chubby Neck’

The neck is no longer a ‘throw away’ body part; the selfie has made sure of that! The neck gets noticed and for good reason, says Dr. Clark. “The neck is really the key to a beautiful face for both men and women.” Clark, a plastic surgeon in Orlando, treats patients from their 20’s to their 80’s, many of whom have their concerns aimed at their necks. “One size does not fit all,” Clark explains. “What we are doing early in life doesn’t work later. We need to look at each person and figure that out.”

Clark says in some patients the problem has nothing to do with age, but rather with genetics. “Some people are born with fullness below their chin – a fat neck – and you can see that in plenty of people in their 20’s, irrespective of their weight.” Clark adds that new treatments are providing relief for the fatty neck without surgery. One of those is Kybella, an injectable treatment that dissolves fat with a series of procedures. Clark is excited about the range of options to improve the neck appearance. “You can create definition and an elegance that some have never had before, so this is a game-changer in regard to facial beauty.”

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Dealing With the ‘Sagging Neck’

Liposuction is a possibility and can be a viable option to remove excess fat and restore a youthful look. Experts advise this procedure should be used when the skin is still fairly elastic and can thus bounce back from the procedure. The area should never be suctioned to the point where loose bands underneath are exposed. Clark says it is important to determine what is best for every patient. “I want to bring the right treatment to the right patients.” He says that ultimately neck skin will have to be tightened and that is best addressed with a neck lift. “The neck lift can be addressed by a small and minimally invasive incision below the chin. Through that small incision, we can get a lot of things accomplished.” Clark is also an advocate of considering a face lift while doing a neck lift. He says the combo can produce powerful results and should always be discussed. “The real challenge that we have as plastic surgeons is to bring a spectrum of treatments to the table to have a thoughtful discussion and then make the diagnosis for the best fit.”

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Help for the ‘Older Neck’

It’s a common complaint: “My neck has more bands than most trees.” It happens, especially as we age. Clark says there is a treatment plan for the fibrous neck. The older the person, the more profound and advanced the treatment plan becomes, usually with surgery. “We have to try something more profound to the neck at that point, usually in the deeper layers, where we have to get to the muscle.”

What is astounding is the amount of time and attention being paid to the neck in the last few years. Until recently, with the development of new techniques, procedures and treatments; it was largely ignored, but that is changing. “It is a game changer for plastic surgery,” admits Clark. “It used to be that we only saw patients when they needed surgery and that’s not the case [anymore].” Clark says plastic surgeons are being called upon more and more to be problem solvers. “We have to solve problems, because one size doesn’t fit all.”

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