Throughout history a pleasing and long neck has been one of the most important attributes of “beauty”. In fact, all over the world, native tribes strive to exhibit this area by elongating their necks with jewelry or rings, sometimes to an exaggerated point. Though rings around our necks are not as profuse in this culture, we still appreciate the beauty of a long smooth neck like the girl below.

long neck                                  beautiful neck

A beautiful human neck that is young and healthy is universally known to be

  •  slim (not fat)
  • long (not short)
  • smooth (not wrinkled)

Like all other areas of the body, it can suffer the ravages of time and the environment and come to look less than ideal. Fortunately we now live in a world where repair and improvement of the damage to our necks is possible.


Signs of an old neck

  • Skin of the neck is particularly thin and is one of the first areas to lose its youthful tone. Sun damage will often cause irregular coloring and loosening of the skin in patients as young as 40.
  • Muscle laxity of the underlying “platysma” muscle follows soon after, causing the typical vertical banding that can be seen on either side of the neck midline. Uncorrected, this condition leads to further separation of the muscle and the final result is the “Turkey Neck” with lax muscles and excess skin, and the look of a short wrinkled neck.
  • Fat accumulates in the neck as we grow older

Cosmetic Surgery of the neck

For patients with cosmetic neck problems, a neck surgery can significantly improve their appearance. Surgery is performed each of the problems of skin laxity, muscle separation and fat accumulation, and sometimes all three together.

Neck lift surgery 

Neck lift Surgery consists of incisions behind the ear which allows the skin of the neck to be pulled back and the excess neck skin removed.  A drain is sometimes necessary and is removed in 48 hours.  and return to work is within 5-7 days.

Neck Muscle Surgery

This consists of tightening the platysma muscle  at the same time skin is being removed through hidden incisions behind the ears and extending into the hair of the scalp. There is often an incision made under the chin to allow the platysma muscle to also be tightened in the midline and remove the “turkey neck” separation that occurs.

Neck Fat Removal

Some patients have good skin tone and tight muscles but excess fat in the neck. The neck fat accumulates both above and below the platysma muscle.  This gives the appearance of a short neck as well as a receding chin. The jaw line is non-existent and they have a “thick” neck because of the lack of definition of the face/neckline.

The neck fat can be removed by either liposuction alone, or in cases where there is also skin laxity and muscle separation, during a neck lift surgery.

All these cosmetic neck surgery outpatient procedures can be performed under local 1-2 hours in my office. Use of a turtleneck for a few days to hide the bruising may be required, and at the end of a week most signs have disappeared. Most patients return to normal activities in 2-3 days, and sports in 2 weeks.

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS