Neck liposuction is performed on patients who have persistent fat deposits below the chin and in the neck area. When fat accumulates around the neck, the youthful shape of the jaw is lost. With liposuction, your plastic surgeon sculpts this area and removes fat, to restore the angular qualities of the chin and jaw.
Today, a number of new techniques are allowing plastic surgeons to provide more precise results and shorter recovery times. Although no type of liposuction is a substitute for dieting and exercise, neck liposuction can remove stubborn areas of neck fat that don’t respond to traditional weight-loss methods.
The Best Candidates for Neck Liposuction
The best candidates for neck liposuction are normal-weight people with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in the neck. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable and realistic in your expectations. Your age is not a major consideration; however, older patients may have diminished skin elasticity and may not achieve the same results as a younger patient with tighter skin.
Liposuction carries greater risk for individuals with medical problems such as diabetes, significant heart or lung disease, poor blood circulation, or those who have recently had surgery near the area to be contoured.
Preparing For Your Surgery
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets and certain medications. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your surgery may have to be postponed.
Though it is rarely necessary, your doctor may recommend that you have blood drawn ahead of time in case it is needed during surgery. Also, while you are making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and, if needed, to help you at home for a day or two.
Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed
Liposuction may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based facility, in an outpatient surgery center, or in a hospital. Smaller-volume liposuction is usually done on an outpatient basis for reasons of cost and convenience. However, if a large volume of fat will be removed, or if the liposuction is being performed in conjunction with other procedures, a stay in a hospital or overnight nursing facility may be required.
Anesthesia for Neck Liposuction
With a small amount of neck fat, liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs only the affected areas. However, if you prefer, the local is usually used along with intravenous sedation to keep you more relaxed during the procedure. Regional anesthesia can be a good choice for more extensive procedures. One type of regional anesthesia is the epidural block, the same type of anesthesia commonly used in childbirth.
During neck liposuction, localized deposits of neck fat are removed to recontour the neck area and lower face. Through a tiny incision, a narrow tube or cannula is inserted and used to vacuum the fat layer that lies deep beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed then pulled through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out. The suction action is provided by a vacuum pump or a large syringe, depending on the surgeon’s preference.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk
Liposuction is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped and the physician is adequately trained. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even though a well-trained surgeon and a state-of-the art facility can improve your chance of having a good result, there are no guarantees. Though they are rare, complications can and do occur. Risks increase if a greater number of areas are treated at the same time, or if the operative sites are larger in size. Removal of a large amount of fat and fluid may require longer operating times than may be required for smaller operations.
The combination of these factors can create greater hazards for infection; delays in healing; the formation of fat clots or blood clots, which may migrate to the lungs and cause death; excessive fluid loss, which can lead to shock or fluid accumulation that must be drained; friction burns or other damage to the skin or nerves or perforation injury to the vital organs; and unfavorable drug reactions.
The scars from neck liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view. However, imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon after liposuction. The skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric or even baggy, especially in the older patient. Numbness and pigmentation changes may occur. Sometimes, additional surgery may be recommended.
After Your Surgery
After surgery, you will likely experience some fluid drainage from the incisions. Occasionally, a small drainage tube may be inserted beneath the skin for a couple of days to prevent fluid build-up. To control swelling and to help your skin better fit its new contours, you may be fitted with a snug elastic garment to wear over the treated area for a few weeks. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. Even though the newer techniques are believed to reduce some post-operative discomforts, you may still experience some pain, burning, swelling, bleeding and temporary numbness. Pain can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon, though you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days.
It is normal to feel a bit anxious or depressed in the days or weeks following surgery. However, this feeling will subside as you begin to look and feel better.
Getting Back to Normal
Healing is a gradual process. Your surgeon will probably tell you to start walking around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. You will begin to feel better after about a week or two and you should be back at work within a few days following your surgery. The stitches are removed or dissolve on their own within the first week to 10 days.
Activity that is more strenuous should be avoided for about a month as your body continues to heal. Although most of the bruising and swelling usually disappears within three weeks, some swelling may remain for six months or more. Your surgeon will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.