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After Neck Lift Surgery

The first few hours after surgery will be spent in the recovery room. When you are completely alert, you will be able to go home with someone to assist you. To control swelling, cold packs should be placed around the neck area for 48 hours and you should sleep with your back and head elevated at 45-60 degrees for seven nights.

Some patients will spend the first night in the recovery room, especially if other facial procedures are performed. If you are staying overnight, Dr. Delgado will inspect your incisions the following morning and then you may go home with a responsible adult.

The following day, you may shower, wash your hair as usual and reapply the compression band, a four-inch wide elasticized band that circles under your chin and attaches with Velcro over the top of your head. This light compression discourages the accumulation of fluid swelling under your chin.

There is minimal discomfort with neck lifts. Pain medication is prescribed, but it is unlikely it will be needed for more than a day or two following your procedure.

Patients will experience swelling, but the primary sensation is that of numbness on the neck, the sides of the face and even the lips. The lip numbness resolves in about 24 hours and the remaining numbness steadily subsides over the subsequent weeks. If a drain is placed, you may experience a slight pinching in that area when you move your head, but that is relieved with the removal of the drain, probably the day after your procedure. Since there is still considerable numbness at this point, drain removal is painless.

Your sutures may feel like stiff little bristles, as you try to find a comfortable position on your pillow to sleep, but again, this vanishes when the sutures are removed five to seven days after your procedure. Suture removal can be done at either Dr. Delgado’s San Francisco office or his Marin County office.

As the swelling may cause soreness in your jaw hinge (temporal mandibular joint) you should plan on eating soft foods the first two days after your procedure. You may also be aware of mild, intermittent discomfort in your throat, a result of irritation caused by the breathing tube that was in place during your procedure. Throat tissue heals very quickly and this feeling will also disappear after a couple days.

Probably the most challenging part of your recovery will be getting comfortable enough to sleep in the recommended elevated position. A recliner is very helpful for this, but you can replicate one fairly well with a good supply of pillows. Rest your back and head against a stack of three or four pillows and place one or two pillows under your knees to keep your lower back comfortable and to avoid sliding down out of the elevated position. Adhering to this regimen for the first week after your surgery is the most effective way to keep your swelling at a minimum.

Most of the swelling will resolve in four to five days, as long as you sleep elevated and wear the compression band continually. By the eighth night, you may reduce use of the compression band to nighttime, during your sleeping hours. It is advisable to sleep with the compression band in place for one or two months following your procedure as this will continue to keep fluid from accumulating in the chin area, especially following a day of excessive activity.

The bruising will be entirely gone by two weeks, or even sooner. Makeup may be applied after one week.

Most patients return to work or social activities after ten to fourteen days. Strenuous physical exercise should be avoided for four to six weeks following a neck lift as it can trigger swelling.


Risks and complications are usually minor when a neck lift is performed by a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, yet the possibilities of complications must be considered. Like all surgeries, the risks of bleeding, infection, scarring and adverse anesthesia events are always present.


The result of a neck lift procedure is rejuvenation of the neck and jaw line and their relationship. The angle of the neck will have a more accentuated and youthful contour as a result of the removal of fat and the tightening of the muscles. You will enjoy a straight, uninterrupted jaw line and a new smoothness in the texture of your neck skin. The frontal view of your face and your profile will speak an age ten or more years younger than your actual age. These improvements can be expected to last many years. Although you will continue to age and gravity will still take its toll, the area will always look more rejuvenated. A neck lift can be repeated in the future, when it may be appropriate to combine it with a facelift as well.

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