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As we get older, so too do our skin and the underlying structures, including the neck. Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Martin Kelly explains how to treat an aging neck.

Dealing With an Aging Neck

When considering the options available for improving the appearance of the neck, one has to consider the anatomy and structures involved.

  • Skin quality, hydration, texture, elasticity, and blemishes;
  • Muscle bands;
  • Fat collections in the sub-mental and submandibular areas; and
  • The cervico-mental angle – the slope from the chin to Adam’s apple.

Treating An Aging Neck

There are a whole host of non-invasive or minimally invasive modalities available for treating the skin of the neck:

  • Skin-tightening creams speed up skin turnover and encourage new collagen and elastin production.
  • Chemical peels address fine lines and blemishes in the neck skin, and stimulate new collagen production, rejuvenating the skin and tightening it at the same time;
  • Bio-stimulators are injectables that stimulate new collagen production, restoring skin elasticity and structure. The effects can last up to two years.
  • Various types of lasers can be used to heat and tighten the skin on the neck without surgery. Depending on the type of laser, the results can be mild to moderate. Treatment usually requires multiple sessions. There is typically minimal recovery time, and the results can last a few years.
  • Micro-needling and radio frequency treatments rejuvenate the skin and cause slight tightening. The latest machines combine micro-needling with radio frequency to produce a moderate degree of skin tightening.
  • Platysmal bands (muscle bands) in the neck can be softened with Botulinum toxin injections. The treatment takes just a few minutes and requires no recovery time. Results generally last three to four months. 

All of the above treatments are temporary. They need to be repeated to maintain the results and are suitable only for mild to moderate skin laxity.

Alternative therapies

Small submental fat collections (double chin) can be addressed with cryotherapy (fat freezing) or lipolytic injectables, which break down fat cells, which are removed by the body.

Significant fat collections in the neck are best addressed with liposuction, usually performed under local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure. Neck liposuction is often performed in conjunction with neck lift surgery.

Significant skin laxity in the neck can effectively be treated only with a neck lift operation, where the excess skin is excised and the neck skin redraped. This is achieved through an incision behind the ears, sometimes combined with a small incision beneath the chin, if the neck muscles need to be plicated in the midline.

I seldom perform neck lift surgery alone, as, in most cases with significant neck skin laxity, the lower face typically needs to be lifted at the same time, to achieve the best result. Face and neck lift surgery can be performed under local anesthetic with sedation or under general anesthesia, depending on your and your surgeon’s preference.

Takeaway

All of the above procedures can be performed alone or in combination, depending on the individual’s particular problem. In many cases, surgery is preceded by non-invasive procedures, which prepare the canvas for surgery.

It’s always advisable to consult a reputable practitioner for a full assessment and to discuss the merits and possible complications of each procedure, prior to embarking on treatment.

Who Is The Author?

Dr. Martin Kelly

Dr. Martin Kelly is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the General Medical Council (Specialist Register) in the UK.

He is a Life Member & Past President of the Association of Plastic Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeons of Southern Africa.

After graduating MBBCh from the University of the Witwatersrand, he spent 4 years in the Military before specializing in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, obtaining his Fellowship in 1991. Whilst specializing, he developed an interest in Craniofacial Surgery and was instrumental in setting up the Craniofacial Unit at the Johannesburg Hospital, which he headed for many years.

He started private practice in 1993 and was a Consultant Plastic Surgeon to The Harley Medical Group in the UK & Ireland from 2002 to 2010.

Dr. Kelly is a family man, a keen mountain biker, and enjoys the outdoors. He has semigrated to the Garden Route where he looks forward to enjoying the lifestyle, being close to family, and offering his services as a Plastic Surgeon.

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Dr. Martin Kelly

Dr. Martin Kelly

Dr. Martin Kelly is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the General Medical Council (Specialist Register) in the UK. He is a Life Member & Past President of the Association of Plastic Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeons of Southern Africa. After graduating MBBCh from the University of the Witwatersrand, he spent 4 years in the Military before specializing in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, obtaining his Fellowship in 1991. Whilst specializing, he developed an interest in Craniofacial Surgery and was instrumental in setting up the Craniofacial Unit at the Johannesburg Hospital, which he headed for many years. He started private practice in 1993 and was a Consultant Plastic Surgeon to The Harley Medical Group in the UK & Ireland from 2002 to 2010. Dr. Kelly is a family man, a keen mountain biker, and enjoys the outdoors. He has semigrated to the Garden Route where he looks forward to enjoying the lifestyle, being close to family, and offering his services as a Plastic Surgeon.

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