ften brought on by age, fat may collect in the upper regions of the neck, creating what is commonly called a “double chin.” The fat rolls and excess skin bunch up and sag to the point that many people find themselves dissatisfied with their appearance or their profile. In most cases, it is nearly impossible to lose neck fat through diet and exercise. However, this fat can be easily reduced with liposuction. Liposuction is a common procedure that removes the fat under the chin, giving patients a beautiful, streamlined facial contour.
The neck is one of the most popular areas for men and women to receive liposuction. It is less invasive, requires less recovery time and typically results in a more natural appearance. The results are usually subtle enough that patients seldom have to acknowledge that they have had liposuction…..most people just assume that you have lost weight. Neck liposuction may be combined with other facial procedures such as a neck lift or a face lift, or it may be performed as the only procedure.
The best candidates for neck liposuction are patients who have fat pockets around the cheeks, chin and jowls, and still have good skin elasticity. If patients have an abundance of excess skin in addition to the excess fatty deposits, then a neck lift to lift the extra skin may be performed at the same time. There are several ways that Dr. Blackledge will check your skin elasticity during the consultation to see if you will need liposuction alone or a neck lift with liposuction.
The Neck Liposuction Procedure
Neck liposuction is typically performed under a twilight anesthesia. During your neck liposuction procedure, Dr. Blackledge will insert a narrow tube or cannula through a small incision made under your chin. The cannula will then be used as a vacuum to suction out fat cells localized under the neck and face areas. Once the procedure is complete, Dr. Blackledge will close the incision with small sutures.
Following surgery, the face is wrapped in a dressing that is left in place overnight and then removed the following morning. We prefer to use this type of dressing instead of drains.
What to Expect During the Recovery
Even though the recovery period technically starts immediately after surgery, there are several things that you can do before your surgery day to make the recovery period smoother. During your consultation, we will talk to you about the importance of being physically and mentally prepared for surgery to ensure that we get the best results possible. Now back to the recovery period. Immediately after surgery, compression dressing is placed around your face and head to reduce swelling and removed the following morning. You have the option of either staying over night or going home. This decision will be discussed with you at the time of consultation. Most patients sleep the remainder of the day and night after surgery. The following morning the dressing will be removed and at this point you will be taught how to keep the incisions under your chin clean with peroxide swabs and then moist with ointments. All of these measurers allow for a more pleasing scar. The first day after surgery is strictly a “bed rest” day. Most patients feel better than expected, so the temptation is to “over do” it on this first day. However, patients have less bruising and swelling if they rest with their head elevated on the first day. Swelling is typically mild to moderate reaching its maximum on the third postoperative day, and then it starts to decline. We allow you to resume limited activities and also apply makeup by day four. Stitches are removed on day seven, and most people are presentable to the general public (with camouflage makeup) by day ten. Of course, this varies with the individual healing process. All of the “do’s and don’ts” for liposuction surgery will be given to you separately.
Bruising is expected after any kind of surgery. The amount that you bruise is extremely individualized – some people will bruise more than others. However, with every patient, we can expect a reduction in the amount that you bruise by taking Bromelain during the preoperative and postoperative period. We encourage you to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day during your recovery period to flush the bruising out of your system. Our experience with neck liposuction surgery is that the combination of Bromelain and water intake will reduce the amount of bruising that you normally would have had. During the recovery period, you will notice that your bruising changes colors. All bruises initially appear red and change to a purplish hue. By day five, the majority of your bruises will have changed to a green and then yellow color. Once you have reached the yellow stage, you are almost “bruise free.”
Just like bruising, expect swelling. The day after surgery, once the dressing is removed, swelling will actually increase over the next day. Typically, swelling begins to decrease on the third day after surgery. We often get the question, “what can I do to reduce swelling?” You will be scheduled during the recovery process for a procedure called lymphatic massage, which works to reduce swelling. Our aestheticians are trained to manually massage the swelling out of your face and into the neck area. Lymphatic massage has been proven to significantly reduce postoperative swelling. I usually do not recommend ice packs. Remember that there will be areas on your face that are numb initially after surgery. You can actually “freezer-burn” your skin if you have an ice pack over an area that is numb.
It is best to sleep in an upright position with your head at least above the level of your heart for the first two weeks after surgery. This helps to reduced swelling and also bruising. The best beds are usually either a recliner or an incline pillow. Both of these keep the head and shoulders in a natural position. If you try to sleep with your head elevated with pillows, you wind up sleeping in an unnatural position and develop muscle spasms in your shoulders.
You may begin light walking on the fourth day after surgery. In fact, we usually encourage this because it helps to improve your circulation, which in turn gets rid of bruising and swelling quicker. You can gradually increase the intensity of your walking over the next few days as your body tolerates it. Your body will tell you how much exercise is enough. We usually recommend that you refrain from any competitive sports such as tennis or golf for at least two weeks. When it comes to exercise, don’t pull against any tight sensations that you may have.
A popular question is “how much pain will I have after a neck liposuction?” Most patients will tell you that they had little to no pain after surgery. The common response is that everything felt “tight.” This is usually due to swelling and the tight sensation begins to subside after about 2 – 3 weeks. Patients are given prescriptions prior to surgery for pain medicine and are encouraged to take theme as directed for discomfort. However, most patients switch to Tylenol soon after surgery.
Because of the tight sensation in the cheek and neck after surgery, you will be advised to stay on a soft diet for at least the first week after surgery. Any foods that do not require aggressive chewing (such as soups) will make the first week a comfortable experience.
When Will I Look Presentable?
Obviously, this is a very individualized answer. The average patient is able to go back in public without being obviously swollen or bruised by about 3 – 5 days.