In “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Nora Ephron gave voice to generations of women who have been silently hiding their necks like turtles in scarves, boas, turtlenecks, and chokers. Her blunt advice is to start concealing the neck at age 43. “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.” Sure, she had a point. But there is an equal embarrassment perched right above the neck: the sagging jawline.
When you reach your early 40s, you may notice that the skin between your neck and jaw, which was once a taut right angle, is now simply dropping. This “drop zone” is the subject of many heart-to-heart conversations. We have all watched at least one friend (of a certain age) pulling back the skin in front of her ears with two thumbs to illustrate how much better she would look without the drooping, wavy jawline. She asks, “Tell me the truth, don’t I look better like this?” You answer dishonestly: “Don’t be silly. You look great the way you are.”
The aging jaw and neck are challenging. The neck is comprised of three layers: skin, fat, and muscle. Sagging muscles and bulging fat are located under the thinnest, creepiest skin on the body (except for eyelid skin). To make matters worse, a thin ropey material called platysma tends to split into a V-like formation of two cords that stick out especially when they contract. To see this phenomenon in action (if you’re over 40) look in a mirror, say “eee,” and watch in horror what happens.
Dr. Aston recommends a neck lift for women in their early to mid-40s who are not ready for a facelift. For some patients, a neck lift will be all that is needed to give an excellent improvement. The neck lift tightens muscles and the jawbone to restore that all-important right angle. It is impossible to fix that with Botox, Fillers, lotions, & potions. Compared with a facelift, incisions are smaller, there is less pulling and recovery time is much shorter. However, a neck lift has traditionally been part of a facelift and many plastic surgeons believe it should remain so. The reasoning is that, anatomically, the muscles of the neck are connected to muscles of the face, so if you try to tighten just the neck muscles, you may do your face a disservice. Using this line of reasoning, even if your big complaint is your neck, you will probably get better results with a facelift. If you’re confused about which procedure is right for you, have a consultation to give you feedback while perusing your very own unique face and neck.