Neck Nonsurgical Rejuvenation: Beware of Media Hype, It’s Your Neck, Your Results

When your neck skin started sagging, you took it in stride. Then, you invested in neck-firming creams and serums that your friends swore by. Now, after too many turtlenecks and failed DIY efforts, you’re in search of a serious solution. Can a nonsurgical procedure tighten your turkey neck? The answer may depend more on whom you ask than the state of your sinking skin. If a cosmetic cure sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Use my guidelines to tease out the truth behind neck treatments:

Proper Prep:

After you book a consultation with an M.D., do your neck rejuvenation research. But, don’t scour the Internet for every statistic and story of woe—too much info might confuse rather than clarify. Brush up on the basics:

When and Why: When middle age rears its head, you may notice neck skin sinking south. With aging, you lose muscle tone and subcutaneous fat, which define your jaw line and maintain skin elasticity.

Surgical Neck Rejuvenation, or a neck lift, refers to two procedures:

  Cervicoplasty: the removal of excess loose skin.

Platysmaplasty: the tightening of the neck muscle.

  Nonsurgical procedures address different levels and types of surface damage. Once skin loses elasticity, however, surgical neck rejuvenation is the only solution. Don’t trust anyone—expert or friend—who contends otherwise.

Injectibles: Botox can help reduce horizontal neck wrinkles when skin is still elastic. One treatment may last three or four months.

Noninvasive Ultrasound Therapy: Thermage, Titan, the newer Ulthera, and Pelleve, which I prefer and offer, tighten skin and treat wrinkles by heating the skin to generate collagen.. This, however, only applies to finer wrinkles and minor conditions-it should never substitute for real surgery in more extreme cases.

  Laser Treatment: Fraxel, among other laser treatments, can improve skin quality, but it cannot tighten loose skin.

The Devil’s in the Details: Regardless of the procedure, make sure you’re picturing the same jowl-free jaw as your doctor. Don’t let anyone use vague beauty buzzwords like “tight” or “smooth,” to describe expected results. If you don’t establish shared expectations early on, you risk hearing the dreaded, “it looks good to me…” Remember, as the patient, you have leverage—use it! They should have pictures, facts, and figures, and you have the power of “next, please.” Don’t leave any consultation without knowing:

The Cost: non-surgical treatments may require upkeep, which drives up cost considerably. Ask your doctor how long the results from a given procedure last, and always compare apples with apples. Permanent means one procedure; temporary keeps the tab rolling.

The Physical Impact: Simply put, people don’t want surgery. But surgical procedures keep improving. Before you equate neck surgery with extensive recovery and unbearable pain, get the whole post-operative picture—from the minute you wake to the last painkiller you take.

What if…?” Don’t avoid asking hypothetical questions. You have a right to probe into the possibility of something not going as planned. Ask about the guarantee for non-surgical and surgical procedures.

Confusing Fact with Fiction: Thanks to powerful marketing campaigns, new technology can earn a reputation before it deserves one. When hype builds and word spreads, even physicians feel comfortable recommending something “they hear has gotten great results…” Tread lightly around treatments until they’ve been on the market for at least a year, preferably two.

Doctor Knows Best:  An M.D. should be part of any medical decision, neck rejuvenation included. Doctors who perform the full scope of surgical and non-surgical procedures are most likely to furnish impartial advice. Don’t rely on a cosmetic center that isn’t affiliated with a certified physician, especially since a number of doctors, like myself, have added medical spas to our surgical practices.  I engage every patient in an open dialogue about treatment options, and establish a mutual understanding of realistic expectations. When a non-surgical procedure will best remedy minimal sagging or wrinkling, I explain and recommend the appropriate non-surgical approach.