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This Side Of Beauty

By Peter Schmid, DO
Posted On Jan 12, 2011

Double chin got you down? Fret no more! A prettier profile can be yours in less than two weeks—with the right evaluation, the right doctor, and the right procedure. so if you’re looking for that more youthful angle (or want to stop asking, “is this my best side?”), contouring the neck can give you a side profile silhouette worthy of a paparazzi-hounded starlet.

Neckline Nuances

A double chin is the result of excess fat around the neck that causes the skin to sag and appear as an extra chin. Not just the result of weight gain, sometimes a double chin appears with age or is simply an inherited feature (thanks, Mom!).

“Not all necks are created equal,” says Dr. Douglas Dedo, a cosmetic surgeon in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, who explains that young adults who are overweight and have excess neck fat, or who lose weight but can’t lose the double chin, might need only liposuction of the neck. Most patients, however, have some looseness to the skin on their lower face that will require a lift.

As it turns out, one of the biggest misconceptions about the neck lift is that it only involves re-draping the skin around the neck, says Dr. Dedo. In fact, most neck lift patients also need a facelift (which includes the neck).

“They have to have the skin tightened,” says Dr. Dedo. “It is extremely unusual to be able to do just an isolated neck lift, without doing a concomitant facelift, because the skin rolls up in front of the ear and has to be pulled and distributed somewhere.”

This was the case for patient Roberta MacLeod.

Maybe She’s Born With It

For Roberta, it wasn’t weight or age—she was born with it. “I had a hereditary double chin and an awful jaw line,” explains the slimbodied resident of West Palm Beach, FL. That double chin and loose skin left her so self-conscious she avoided showing her profile.

Nine years ago when she was in her 40s, Roberta decided that she wanted to do something about it. She decided to have her neckline surgically corrected. Today she still marvels at the youthful angle of her neck and makes it a point to show her side view.

“I have stopped constantly holding my chin up. When people are photographing me at a party or function, I no longer turn full face on, so that I will not get caught in a profile,” Roberta says. “I feel amazing. I feel younger. Dr. Dedo gave me something I never had before. He made me pretty.”

The Beauty Ballpark

Dr. Harold Bafitis, a cosmetic surgeon in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, FL, says neck lift patients should expect a smooth, natural contour. “It will never be that straight Dick Tracy look,” he says, “but depending on the tissue you have underneath, it should look like the neck you had maybe 10 years ago.”

Buying back those 10 years has its price, however, both in physical risk and the pocketbook. “Whenever you make an incision in the body, three things can go wrong: infection, bleeding and scarring,” says Dr. Dedo. One of the ways doctors minimize physical risk is by operating on healthy patients: no smoking (which affects the body’s ability to heal) and no blood thinners (including several “natural” herbal supplements).

Whether it’s surgery or liposuction, neck lift procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. While liposuction of the neck takes about an hour, the face-neck lift might take three.

And recovery? For simple liposuction, you’ll wear a chin strap for a week for support. After a face-neck lift, expect six days of downtime and that chewing might be uncomfortable in the days after surgery. For Roberta, she was out and socializing within 10 days after her procedure and back to work in two weeks.

With regard to cost of the financial kind, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000 for the face and neck lift, with costs going as high as $25,000 in some major metropolitan areas. The surgical fee for a simple liposuction of the neck will likely range from $2,500 to $4,000.

Roberta says the confidence boost she got from the surgery was well worth the investment of time and money. “When I look at the pictures of how I looked before, I say it looked like I was 90 years old,” she says. “After the surgery, the first time I saw my profile, I started smiling and I haven’t stopped.”

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