Caring for aging skin isn’t exclusive to your face. The skin on your neck also shows signs of aging caused by sun damage, environmental factors, and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
For many people, an aging neck contour with wrinkles and sagging skin top the list of complaints shared with skin care experts.
But getting rid of loose skin on your neck and under the chin often requires surgical procedures that come with significant risks.
This is why people looking to improve the appearance of aging skin may want to consider a nonsurgical procedure often referred to as a “neck lift.”
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of nonsurgical neck lifts, as well as some different types of procedures that can be chosen from.
Surgical neck lifts are the gold standard for removing excess skin, tightening loose skin, and reducing the bands (or “cords”) on the neck. In 2019, close to 55,000 people had a surgical neck lift procedure.
That said, the number of people wanting to change the appearance of their skin without going under the knife is on the rise. Nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedures aren’t as dramatic as surgical treatments.
They can, however, help improve skin tone and texture, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and neck folds, and give the contour of your neck a more youthful look.
A few of the other benefits of nonsurgical cosmetic treatments over surgical procedures include:
- Quicker recovery time. Recovery times for many nonsurgical neck lift procedures range from just a few hours to a few days. Side effects are generally minimal, and include redness, irritation, swelling, tenderness, and soreness at an injection site.
- Less expensive. A surgical neck lift averages $5,100. Nonsurgical procedures, on the other hand, range from $400 to $2,000, depending on the treatment.
- Shorter procedure. In general, most nonsurgical procedures take 30 to 90 minutes, compared with surgical procedures that can take several hours.
- Fewer risks overall. Since general anesthesia and large incisions aren’t required for nonsurgical procedures, there’s a reduced risk to your health.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of your options, the following nonsurgical procedures are often used to minimize the signs of aging in neck skin.
Injectable therapies like Botox (botulinum toxin type A injection) can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
“Although off-label, many dermatologists utilize Botox injections along the neck and vertical neck bands… to quiet muscle movement on the neck and relax the downward-pulling motion of the neck muscle,” says Dr. Melanie Palm, a board certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon.
Botox is nearly painless, requires minimal-to-no downtime, and takes minimal time to complete. The average cost of Botox is about $400.
To maintain results, you’ll need to go in for a treatment every 3 to 4 months.
Fractionated ablative laser treatment
Palm says to think of fractionated technology like aerating a lawn: A percentage of the skin is treated while adjacent skin is untreated, leading to faster healing.
“Lasers such as erbium or carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers can create selective destruction and heat damage to the first two layers of skin, leading to textural improvements, skin contraction, and new collagen growth,” she says.
Palm says this treatment requires topical anesthesia and occasional regional or systemic anesthesia to be well-tolerated.
However, the authors do point out that the results are better on patients with moderate aging, as opposed to mild or severe.
Downtime can be up to 10 days and requires moderate wound care. The average cost of laser treatments is around $2,000.
Injectable dermal fillers
According to Palm, hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxylapatite fillers are sometimes used off-label by expert physician injectors to rebuild jawline definition and induce collagen growth to the neck.
When used on the neck, Palm says the practitioner will often use a blunt-tipped cannula instead of a needle.
The average cost of injectable dermal fillers is about $625 to $800. Each treatment lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
Some people accumulate increased fat under the chin and in the upper neck.
In cases where there’s a mild amount of neck fat with firm, good quality skin overlying, your doctor may recommend Kybella to improve neck contour, says Dr. Amit Kochhar of Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
Kybella is composed of deoxycholic acid, an injectable product that breaks down and metabolizes fat cells.
The treatment takes about 30 minutes, and in general, the recovery is fast. But you may notice swelling or redness at the injection site for several days.
Kochhar says you’ll see results in 4 to 6 weeks. The cost of Kybella is around $1,100. You may need to repeat the procedure up to four times.
Radiofrequency with microneedling is a noninvasive procedure that treats wrinkles and loose skin. It combines two techniques — radiofrequency and microneedling — to naturally reproduce collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.
With microneedling, a doctor places very fine short needles into the skin for rejuvenation.
The benefit of microneedling, Kochhar says, is to resurface the superficial layer of the skin and enhance the tightening effects of the radiofrequency energy by further stimulation of collagen and elastin production.
This includes younger patients, whose soft tissue laxity isn’t severe enough for excision procedures, and patients with recurrent laxity who already had a surgical procedure.
You may notice results right away, but generally, they take several months to see. Radiofrequency microneedling is a customized procedure. Because of this, pricing will vary among patients.
Ultrasound is another type of energy that penetrates the skin and treats the subcutaneous layer of the neck and chin.
Ultherapy, a nonsurgical ultrasound technology, was approved in 2009 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for noninvasive neck and chin lifts and to improve wrinkles and lines on the chest area.
The goal of Ultherapy is to stimulate collagen and create more youthful-looking skin on the neck and chin area. To do this, Ultherapy bypasses the surface of the skin through ultrasound energy with focused imaging.
This allows the practitioner to target the right amount at the right depths and the right temperature to lift and support deeper layers of the skin.
Ultherapy is an in-office procedure that takes about 60 to 90 minutes. Typically, there’s no downtime, and you can return to normal activities. You may notice flushed skin and redness, but that should disappear within a few hours.
Results vary, but generally appear over 2 to 3 months as new collagen works to lift skin on the neck and chin. Ultherapy can last up to a year.
Ultherapy costs around $2,200 for one treatment.
As you age, your skin becomes thinner, especially on the neck. Concealing your neck with clothing like scarfs or turtleneck sweaters is a common tactic, but it’s not a lasting solution.
Surgical procedures come with extended recovery times, expense, and risk. That’s why many people are now turning to nonsurgical neck lift procedures like Botox, ultrasound treatments, lasers, and more to boost the appearance of their neck.
These safer options are more affordable, require less downtime, and offer natural-looking results. To maximize results and minimize complications, consult with a board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.