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Neck Lift - Platysmaplasty Recovery



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In the recovery room, patients are evaluated for any pain, nausea, or vomiting.  If any of these symptoms are noted, the surgeon or nurse will make sure that pain medication and anti-emetics are given to make the patient more comfortable. 

Before your surgery, your plastic surgeon will give you instructions on medication you should avoid before and also after your neck lift procedure.  It is important to follow all of your surgeon's instructions completely to ensure a good cosmetic result.

Read our section on Post Operative Surgical Tips





Immediately after you are in the recovery area after the surgery, your head and neck will be bandaged and probably in a compression type of garment to help reshape the new angle.  The use of a compression garment (chin strap) for the first week or for the first 24 - 36 hours following neck lift surgery helps reduce the bruising and swelling by applying pressure to the surgical area so that fluid and blood will not accumulate under the skin. Your surgeon will give you instructions on keeping your head and neck area completely still.  If you need to turn to look at something, turn your entire body not just the neck.  Not every surgeon will believe in using compression bandages, so make sure what your plastic surgeon's stance on this. 





If your plastic surgeon has felt that it is best for you to have drains then when you wake up you will see some tiny thin tubing placed in your incisions to drain any excess fluid.  Drains give the excess fluid build up from the surgery a place to escape, so that healing is not compromised.  Some plastic surgeons do a neck lift procedure with drains.  The more extensive work that is done in the surgery the more likely you are probably going to have a drain. 

Two Jackson-Pratt drains are used in the postoperative period that will stay in for from two to four days depending upon the amount of fluid that is removed from the surgical area. Placing drains prevent a possible hematoma or seroma from forming in the neck, so the patients will heal much faster.  Ask your plastic surgeon what his or her instructions are on the placement of drains.

More than likely your doctor will ask you to monitor how much fluid you are draining from the surgical site and to keep a record of this so that he can keep track of your drainage. The drains are removed anywhere from your first post op appointment. The drain tube is pulled out gently and usually there is no pain associated with this at all.





For the first few days following surgery, you will have some swelling and might be possibly bruised.  This is to be expected however; as the days go by you will notice the swelling dissipating.  Instructions on you sleeping with head elevated for the first two weeks will be given.  Adding a few pillows or possibly a foam wedge pillow will help considerably.  Usually the bruising is gone in 2-3 weeks after a neck lift, however; each person might yield a different amount.





After your neck lift procedure, it is common to be numb around the incisions and also the entire surgical site.  Nerve endings have been stretched or cut and it takes a long time for these nerves to regenerate themselves.  Loss of sensation or numbness is usually only temporary however; it can be permanent.





Patients will notice a change in how their face and neck moves after this procedure. 

It is normal to feel the following after your neck lift:

  • tightness

  • tingling

  • sporadic sharp intense pains

  • pulling sensation

  • burning

  • cold sensations

All of these new feelings and sensations you will feel will dissipate within the first several weeks following your procedure.  Once swelling has subsided - your new firmer neck will appear.





Keeping the incisions and the sutures complete dry is of utmost importance during the first week post operatively.  Most plastic surgeons do apply Steri-Strips on top of your incision line and sutures to help keep the tension off of the actual incision, so it will heal with a thin scar.  You will have internal sutures as well as permanent sutures on the outside of the incision. 

The internal sutures are dissolvable sutures which will be reabsorbed into the body within 60-90 days. 

The external sutures which are blue/black in color will be removed by the surgeon usually between seven to fourteen days depending on how well you heal.  Tissue Glue is another option that is being used more and more as a way of closing the incisions instead of suture material.

Each plastic surgeon will give you specific care instructions for your incisions in writing at your pre operative appointment or before you are sent home after surgery. It is important that you understand everything that is written down so you will not have any unforeseen problems as you are healing.  It is extremely important not to get any creams or lotions into the incision itself, as these products could cause inflammation which could lead to an infection.





It’s important to make sure you watch your temperature after you have had surgery, as any elevation in this could mean you have a possible infection happening.  Notify your surgeon of any elevation of temperature immediately.





Scars can take some time to fade completely.  A lot has to do with the type of skin a patient might have.  The most important thing to remember is to protect these scars from the ultra-violet rays of the sun or a tanning bed.  Wearing a sunscreen with a skin protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 at all times will help minimize any sun damage. 

Scars begin to fade within four to six weeks; topical steroid cream or silicone gel can promote healing and reduce the chance of developing raised, red or irregular scars. While most patients heal well, scarring varies from patient to patient and is not totally predictable.  One of the best scar treatments is Silicone Sheeting, as it helps with flattening and fading the scars.   Silicone Sheeting has the added benefit of adding pressure to the scars while healing, so that the scars do not become hypertrophic

The scars are going to look worse right after surgery of course.  They might appear red and raised after the sutures are removed.  Traditionally scar therapy normally starts after about 6 – 8 weeks post operatively.  This is to ensure that the incision is completely closed.  Each plastic surgeon will have their own time-table for when it is safe for you to start using topical scar creams or Silicone Sheeting, make sure you ask your own surgeon before starting.

Retin A (Tretinoin) is a topical form of Vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself. 

Applying this to your breast augmentation scar or surgical scar after it has been completely healed and closed will help fade out the scar.  Appling paper tape over the Retin A also helps with the healing of scars.  Retin A is a prescription topical cream that has to be prescribed by your physician.

If you have scars that are becoming increasingly red and raised, make sure you notify your plastic surgeon, so he may start some other treatments on you.  This could be the beginning of hyper-trophic scarring or keloids.





Once you have had the surgery it is like being at the half way mark in a long distance race.  The recovery part of this procedure takes an enormous amount of patience and fortitude, as the healing process will be changing daily.  All post operative appointments are included with your final price that you paid your surgeon.  More than likely, the surgeon will lay out in the post operative instructions the appointments and time you are required to come into the office, so that he or she can check your overall status with healing.  


  • Your First Post Operative appointment - most plastic surgeons will want to see you after 24 hours. 

This is your first post operative appointment, and it is to gauge how you are doing and to assess your progress since the procedure.  Since the first post op appointment is so soon after surgery, you will need someone to drive you there, as you will still be under the influence of the anesthesia and of course any pain medication you might be taking.  Take these appointments as an opportunity to express any concerns you might have with your progress.


  • The Second Post Operative appointment is usually at the end of the first week.  

You will still have sutures in your incisions, so your surgeon might take this appointment to remove them.  Most of the time sutures are removed anywhere from 5 - 7 days post op.  Your plastic surgeon will check the incision for any unnecessary drainage, and if you have drains you might have these removed at this time. 


  • The Third Post Operative appointment is usually at the end of the second week.

You will end up having a few post operative appointments with your surgeon.  It is very important to keep all appointments and make sure you are doing everything he wants you to do per his or her own post operative instructions.





There is normally a minimum of three to six months until the final result of a neck lift procedure is assessed. 





It is normal for the first few days to be groggy from the medication and also the residual anesthesia that might be in your system - so having someone at home will help.  If you have any excessive pain, redness at the incision site or surround area, or pus at the incision - you need to call  your surgeon immediately.  This could be a sign of an infection.  Take your antibiotics on time as they are prescribed until finish is imperative to make sure you are taking all the pre-cautions necessary not to get an infection.

Your surgeon will want you to avoid alcohol, aspirin and ibuprofen for several days before and after surgery.  Alcohol, aspirin, and ibuprofen can thin your blood and cause excessive bleeding from the surgical site.  Only take the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon, until he tells you otherwise.

Read our section on Medications to Avoid Before Surgery






It is not uncommon for your menstrual cycle to be altered for a month or two after you undergo surgery.  The stress of the surgery and anesthesia plays havoc on your system.  Your period will return to normal within a couple of months.





Your surgeon will be advising you that if you smoke - you will either need to quit completely or make a commitment to stop smoking for several weeks before your neck lift and several weeks after.  Smoking increases of improper healing and excessive scarring.

Tobacco use increases chronic health risks associated with smoking, and does have a direct correlation with nicotine causing blood vessels to constrict which result in less blood and oxygen going to the surgical site to help healing.  Compared with nonsmokers, smokers have a higher incidence of insufficient healing after face-lift and neck lift surgery, as well as a greater degree of complications following breast surgery.


Read our section on Smoking and Cosmetic Surgery Procedures










Your surgeon will let you know when it is time for you to actively get back into your exercise routine.  It is very important during recovery that you do not get your heart rate elevated by doing too much. This can elevate your blood pressure and cause potential bleeding.

It is extremely important not to be sedentary in order to reduce the chance of forming blood clots in your legs, the sooner you are up and around, the better off you will be.  Some women develop back pain or muscle spasm as a result of sleeping propped up and also it is somewhat normal for the newly augmented patient to walk a little bit hunched over. The sooner you can walk with your shoulders back the better off your back will be.  If you experience back pain, a heating pack on your back will help tremendously. 

You will be instructed not to exercise strenuously for at last 4 to 6 weeks post operative. Being restricted to lifting only 5 to 10 lbs. during the recovery period is to minimize the chance of contributing to any unforeseen complication. This applies to picking up your own children.  If you do have small children, you should try to have someone to help you during the first few weeks. 

Strenuous exercise contributes to an elevation of blood pressure and your pulse and could cause bleeding.  Any time you have excessive bleeding after a procedure the chances of a hematoma or seroma increase.  Taking a gentle walk during the first few days after the surgery is recommended; just remember to do things in moderation.

After you have been released to get back to your exercise routine, start with light cardio and work up from there.  Usually weights might be a little bit too much in the beginning, but slowly work up to your routine over a period of weeks. 

If your job is sedentary, normally returning to work is based on when you feel comfortable enough to do it.  This can vary from several days to a couple of weeks after surgery.  Once you are back into the swing of things at your job, start slowly and let your body tell you what it can or cannot tolerate.  You will find yourself getting tired more easily, and this is from the actual trauma of having surgery and the anesthesia.

Driving after your neck lift will vary with different surgeons.  You should be off of all pain medication before you attempt this.  Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe to start driving again. 





It is perfectly normal for a patient to experience mood swings, and feel like crying off and on, especially during the first couple of weeks.  This is to be expected as it is a normal reaction to the aftermath of major surgery, as medication and post-surgical traumatic stress syndrome can occur.  It is important during this time not to be highly critical of your new surgical procedure, as what you are seeing in the beginning right after surgery is not necessarily what you will end up with.

Some women feel depressed or regretful about having undergone a cosmetic surgery procedure. The feeling of guilt and also the let down from all the build up you had before the surgery comes crashing down while we recover. 

Some patients do not know how to handle the attention of questions that this procedure might bring.  It is good to talk about your feelings and to know that the women on the forum here have experienced all the emotional highs and lows you might be going through, and they will help you in anyway they can along with your own plastic surgeon and his staff.  If you do feel that all of this is too much, then it would be best to seek outside help so you can resolve some of these emotions.  Most of the women who do undergo these procedure are extremely happy they did and would do it again in a heartbeat.





After you are discharged from the surgery center after your procedure, you will be sent home with instructions and important phone numbers to call if there is any unforeseen problem or complication that should arise.  These are important numbers to have close by, as they will be how to contact your surgeon and or the on-call surgeon.  If you experience anything that hasn’t been covered in what to expect after surgery, call the surgeon immediately.  This is why they have given you the phone numbers in the first place. 

Any elevated temperature or excessive bleeding from the incision needs to be communicated immediately to the surgeon.  You need to remember that the instruction sheet that your plastic surgeon has given you should always be adhered to.  If the instructions you are given are different that what you see on this website, do not waiver from what your plastic surgeon has told you.  Always follow your own plastic surgeon’s instructions!





Do not be afraid or intimidated with any questions or concerns you might have.  Whether you are happy or dissatisfied it is always important to be in the same page as your plastic surgeon.  As he or she needs to hear any and all complaints. 

The forum is designed to help the new and the returning patient through pre op, the surgery, and the recovery, as we have many women on here who have had numerous procedures.  It is always good to hear answers from real life women who have experienced the same procedure you are going through.  However, it is not to take the place of your medical professional in any way.

Your plastic surgeon and their staff are there to help you, so if you have any questions or concerns make sure you contact their office immediately.  Never do anything that has not been addressed by your own plastic surgeon, as each physician has his or her own post operative instructions.






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