Neck Lift Surgery Recovery: What to Expect
Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD
When thinking about your neck lift recovery time, it is important to understand a few things. Most neck lift surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. This means you will most likely be released about two hours after your surgery depending, of course, on how much time it takes you to recover from the anesthesia. You will need someone to drive you home after your neck lift, so make sure to plan for this in advance.
While you're in the recovery room, your neck may feel tight and sore. You may feel emotional or cold. These are all normal. If you are cold, ask for a blanket. You may also feel nauseated, particularly if your neck lift was performed using general anesthesia. Medications are available to help curb your nausea.
There will be some mild to moderate discomfort after your neck lift surgery. Take your painkillers as prescribed to alleviate any pain. You may also be groggy from the anesthetic and/or oral medications for the first day or two after your neck lift.
Numbness can occur around the incision and elsewhere. You may also notice a change in how your face moves, tightness, tingling, sporadic sharp pains, pulling, burning, or cold sensations. These feelings are transient and usually subside within the first few weeks.
Swelling and bruising are common after neck lift surgery, but they should begin to improve within a few days. Some surgeons may recommend herbal remedies such as Arnica Montana or bromelain to reduce post-neck lift bruising and swelling. Ask your surgeon what, if anything, you can do.
In general, it's important to keep your head and neck still after a neck lift. This can be challenging. If you have to turn to look at something, turn your whole body, not just your head.
Your sleeping style may also need to be adjusted during your neck lift recovery. You will have to sleep with your head elevated for one or two weeks. The easiest way to do this is to use two or three pillows or a foam wedge pillow from a surgical supply store. Some people opt to sleep on a recliner during their neck lift recovery.
Take it easy during the recovery period and try not to do too much, too soon, but do try to get up and walk around the house a couple of times a day. This boosts circulation and helps reduce your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body, blocking blood flow and causing swelling and pain. This clot may break free and move through the bloodstream. Report any leg pain, swelling or redness to your surgeon as soon as possible, as these are all signs of DVT.
Avoid bending over or lifting heavy objects for the first few weeks after your neck lift. This may mean that you can't pick up your small child or your pet. Do not participate in contact sports until your doctor gives you the all-clear.
Continue to avoid alcohol, aspirin and ibuprofen for up to a week after surgery. If you quit smoking before your neck lift, keep it up. The first days and weeks are the toughest, so don't give up when you have come so far.
You will have one or more postoperative appointments with your surgeon in the days after your surgery. Your dressings may be changed. Your sutures likely will not be removed for seven to 10 days.
Scars after neck lift surgery tend to be short and concealed under your chin, although occasionally they are long and visible. This is related to the neck lift technique, but they can be camouflaged. If you are prone to excessive scarring, ask your surgeon what you can do to minimize your scars.
Neck Lift Recovery: Red Flags
If you have excessive pain, or redness and pus at the incisions, call your surgeon. Pus and redness may be signs of a postoperative infection. Take your temperature regularly because a fever is another sign of an infection. Take your antibiotics on time for as many days as they were prescribed to reduce your infection risk.
The bottom line? If anything seems out of the ordinary, call your surgeon. Let him or her be the judge. Remember, you are always better safe than sorry.