As men enter their 60s and 70s, one common cosmetic complaint is loose, crepey skin on the neck. Some refer to it as their double chin, others call it a turkey wattle. Oftentimes, this specific problem area is the only thing aging men want addressed surgically, making a full facelift or neck lift an unnecessary, and unwanted, procedure.
“[Men] couldn’t care less about the rest of their face,” shares Dr. Dustin Reid of Austin’s Restora Plastic Surgery. “They don’t want a facelift. They just would really like this loose skin to go away.”
For these men, Dr. Reid offers a procedure known as the direct neck lift. The procedure is typically done under local anesthesia and his patients are thrilled with the results. In fact, Dr. Reid’s patients are so pleased with their results, they end up sending their friends to him to have it done too.
“Basically, we remove that skin directly, that’s why it’s called a direct neck lift,” explains Reid. “Then, through a series of what we call z-plasties, we close it back up.”
How it Differs from a Full Face or Neck Lift
When a man is a good candidate for a direct neck lift, the fullness is all central to the neck. To best address this extra skin, an incision is made vertically along the center line of the neck. Through the vertical neck incision the excess skin and tissue is removed and then the neck is closed back up using a zig-zag type of closure referred to as a z-plasty.
During a traditional neck left, on the other hand, the incisions are made behind the ears. When a traditional neck lift is combined with a facelift, and it often is, the incisions then extend to the front of the ear and into the hairline. Through these incisions, the surgeon re-drapes the underlying tissues and brings the skin of the neck backwards and upwards.
Z-Plasty & Scars
“It looks like a little lightning bolt scar on the neck,” says Dr. Reid of the scar that results from the z-plasty procedure. As with any scar, it will take time for the initial incision to heal and the scar to fade. After four to six months the scar has typically faded and is no longer noticeable in most men.
Benefits of Z-Plasty:
- Hides Incision
- Reduces Tension
- Improves Healing
There are several benefits to using a z-plasty closure instead of simply closing the incision with a straight line. Most importantly, scars are less noticeable. Dr. Reid is able to better hide the incision by changing the direction of the lines to fall within the natural folds of the neck. The z-plasty also reduces tension on the scar, which ultimately leads to improved healing and less severe scars.
The Direct Neck Lift is a Great Option for Men
In Dr. Reid’s experience, the direct neck lift is a procedure best suited for male patients. “There’s something specific about men’s skin that allows the neck to heal up and not really show that scar,” says Reid. “I don’t know if it’s because of the beard, or the thickness of the skin, but that scar heals up beautifully and almost goes away.”
Like any scar, it will always be there. The good news is, for men, it all but disappears while successfully getting rid of the turkey neck they don’t like. A traditional facelift or neck lift, on the other hand, does not always provide the desired results without unwanted consequences. The incision around the ears, points out Reid, can sometimes result in the repositioning of a man’s sideburns.
Not Usually the Best Option for Women
For women concerned with an aging neck, Dr. Reid recommends sticking with a more traditional neck lift or facelift procedure. “The problem is that it doesn’t work as great in women,” says Reid. “For some reason the scar never looks as good as you want it to.”
On the plus side, a more traditional neck lift or facelift is able to address much more than just an aging neck, including sagging jawlines and volume loss in the face – problems oftentimes more prevalent in the aging female face.
While excellent female candidates for the direct neck lift are rare, they do exist. The best way to find out if you are a candidate for a direct neck lift is to book a consult with a board certified plastic surgeon experienced in the procedure.