Risks of neck lift

The risks associated with a neck lift procedure are, in large part, similar to other types of surgery. The use of general anaesthetic poses a problem for a small number of patients in terms of adverse reactions and the development of deep vein thrombosis. Since the two sides of our body are not identical, symmetry after surgery is never perfect even if some natural asymmetries can be improved upon.

General anaesthetic and circulation

Both general anaesthetic and local anaesthetic with intravenous sedation carry a risk even for short or simple interventions. Fortunately, this risk is very low, and the chance of severe adverse effects from an anaesthetic is statistically estimated to be approximately 5 times lower than the risk of driving on a motorway.

The period of immobility caused be general anaesthesia does sometimes result in the development of blood clots as circulation is reduced in the deep veins of the legs.

Surgical stockings can help in this regard, as can certain medications and early mobilisation immediately after surgery.

Bleeding, pain and discomfort

All surgery poses a risk of blood loss, which increases for patients taking blood thinning medication. Bleeding is usually minimal during this type of procedure but patients should raise any concerns they have in order to address fears and to discuss their specific needs prior to surgery.

Some pain at the incision sites is to be expected, along with some bruising, particularly where substantial amounts of tissue have been removed or sculpted. Most patients report that neck lift surgery is surprisingly pain free compared to their expectations. Moderate and strong pain relief medication is provided before discharge from hospital, and patients can adjust the amount of treatment to suit their needs.

In addition, medications to address bruising can be started during the recovery period should this take longer than usual to dissipate.

Infection and scarring after neck lift surgery

The visibility of scars after neck lift surgery depends largely on the type of procedure carried out. Other factors, such as skin elasticity, infection, nutrition, hydration, and surgical skill or technique also affect scarring. Meticulous care in designing and execution of the surgery, planning of the scar placement and aftercare contribute to minimising visibility of the scars, to a point where most patients report that their lifestyle is unaffected by the scars.

Scars will likely be more pronounced if infection occurs and, as such, the post-surgical guidelines given to patients should be carefully adhered to minimise risks. Some skin irregularities are also possible, including differences in pigment, the tautness, and the feel of the skin after surgery.

Such changes are usually temporary and the skin often regains its vigour as healing progresses.

Facial nerve injury and reduced skin sensation

Neck lift surgery does take place in a delicate area containing a number of nerves, including the facial nerves that control movement of the facial expression muscles. These may be bruised or more permanently affected by the procedure resulting in numbness, pain, or abnormal sensation or movement in the face, head, or neck.

All efforts are made to reduce this risk. Most frequently, patients report a period of numbness in the skin of the cheeks and a more prolonged numbness under the chin, related to the more extensive work that takes place there. Since movement and sensation rely on different nerves in the face and neck, movement is not usually affected.

If facial nerve injury occurs, it would result in a degree of asymmetry in a patient’s appearance when the face is at rest or animated. Temporary problems usually resolve within 3-4 weeks. International statistics place the risk of facial nerve injury to between 1-3%.

Skin irregularities

Most frequent in the early stages after surgery, whilst the swelling of the deeper and outer layers is still settling, some skin irregularities may persist.

They are usually easily addressed with minimal intervention using fat transfer, or sometimes with injections that reduce the swelling and scar tissue buildup.

Submandibular glands reduction

In some patients, weather related ageing, smoking or undetermined factors, in the lower part of the submandibular glands appears prominence below the jawline. This can detract from the aesthetic contours of the neck after neck lifting, and it is possible to reduce the lower part of the glands in order to create a smooth contour under the neck.

It has been suggested that in some patients reducing some of the submandibular glands volume could lead to a degree of dryness of the mouth, but so far it has not translated into concerns from the patients. However, if you are troubled by dryness of the mouth or of the eyes, a condition relatively common in the Western world, it is important to highlight it during the consultation, so that appropriate surgical planning and advice can be tailored to your needs.

Seroma formation

A clear fluid collection at the sight of surgery is called seroma, and can sometimes occur after neck lift surgery. One of the main purposes for using drains after surgery is to reduce the chance of seroma formation. If it occurs however, the treatment involves drawing out the fluid, and it may need to be repeated a few times until it settles completely.

Get in touch. Talk to our helpful team or book a consultation with Mr Lucian Ion. Call 0207 486 7757

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