Three ways to get rid of turkey neck
Here are the possibilities, limitations and misconceptions you should know before booking a neck anything
Visible changes in the neck area tend to appear rather abruptly. One day, everything is fine, your jawline is taut and defined, and the next, something just looks... off. It can be loose skin or the onset of a sag, but once you've noticed it, there's no going back – unless you speak to a board-certified plastic surgeon.
"The neck is typically the first part of aging that really bothers somebody, but it's actually the last part of the face that actually ages," explains San Diego-based plastic surgeon and American Society of Plastic Surgeons member, Amir Karam, MD. "The stages of aging start at the very top. You start to see the corners of the brow come down a little bit. Later you see the mid-face drop, and when that comes down, you start to see a squaring off and jowling along the jawline, as well as a loss of firmness and contour."
Once gravity starts to take its toll on our faces, there's no magic neck cream, facial exercise (yes, the chewing gum theory is totally bogus) or sculpting device that will have much of a visible, lasting impact. "The crepiness and fine lines in the neck are probably the hardest things of anything to manage," says New York City-based plastic surgeon and ASPS member, Adam Kolker, MD. "You can improve tone on the neck, but the amount of collagen and elastin in the neck skin is less than most other areas on the body. You can't really tighten that area up that much, unless you move to the more surgical end of the spectrum."
Luckily, the technology and education for the neck area continues to advance, and there are a few popular in-office procedures that can offer corrective results. We asked Drs. Karam and Kolker, to walk us through our options to resolve turkey neck – or 'jeck' (the area where the neck and jowls connect), as the TikTokers say.
While here are a few effective noninvasive options, the biggest gripe tends to be the fact that the results are not only temporary, but are oftentimes time-consuming and costly. The below treatments constitute the lowest tier of what Dr. Kolker describes as the treatment ladder because they're "minimally effective and minimally invasive," while Dr. Karam says that these superficial treatments focus on the upper level of the neck without addressing the entirety of the area.
- Kybella is an injection that targets the fat beneath the chin. It is an uncomfortable procedure that requires several in-office visits and a few days of downtime after each treatment while the swelling resolves.
- Filler is another temporary option that can only resolve very fine, superficial lines, says Dr. Kolker. This is not the appropriate route for someone with moderate to severe sagging or jowling, but rather, it is only commonly used for younger patients.
- Botox is a divisive treatment for necks. Some docs use Botox to treat the vertical band-like lines on your neck by relaxing the neck muscle, making the skin appear more relaxed. Speak to a board-certified plastic surgeon for their take on whether it is the right option for you.
- Ultherapy is marketed as a skin tightening and lifting treatment, however, Dr. Kolker describes this procedure as a "minimally effective" treatment to improve anything other than skin tone and texture.
Variations of liposuction
According to Dr. Kolker, there are three common types of liposuction that can work to tighten the neck area, starting with the minimally invasive to the more surgical: Noninvasive suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), radiofrequency-assisted lipectomy (RFAL), or Facetite, and a limited-incision neck lift, which usually involves tightening the platysma muscle.
- SAL is "essentially liposuction" says Dr. Kolker, performed with a cannula to remove extra fat underneath the chin. "What ends up happening is that some scar tissue will form and tighten the tissue and the skin," he says. "There is also an advantage in that you're changing the angle of the undersurface of the neck, so you will also get a natural redraping of skin." Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure, he warns, but "in the absence of other issues, like severe platysmal banding" or sagging, it can be effective.
- RFAL is SAL, but with radiofrequency. This thermal effect is used inside the body, underneath the skin, to melt and remove more fat as well as have a skin tightening effect.
- A limited-incision neck lift is a "minimally invasive correction for neck laxity" or localized fat, says Dr. Kolker, who adds that "doing something" to the platysma muscle, which Dr. Karam says is the most superficial muscle in the neck and gets bigger as we age, giving "a heaviness" underneath the chin, is common with most limited-incision neck lifts.
A neck lift
The neck is a highly nuanced area, and most plastic surgeons who focus on facial procedures have their own techniques. Dr. Karam calls his variation a 'vertical restore' procedure. "There's a lot of things going on to cause neck aging," he says. "On one hand, you have deep fat pads underneath the platysma muscle and the second thing that's happening is the anatomy of the neck muscle, the platysma, is being supported by the face and as the face ages, the neck has nothing to hold it up anymore and begins to sag as well."
In order to re-contour the neck, Dr. Karam says that first the deep neck fat needs to be removed, which not all patients will have, then to address the looseness of the platysma muscle, he performs "a vertically-oriented repositioning of the fascia and platysma" by "pulling up the platysma to get everything nice, crisp and re-contoured," versus the traditional surgical approach, which pulls the neck sideways.
"Without lifting things upward, you're not going to reposition the platysma, and if you can't reposition it, then the durability and longevity isn't going to be there," he explains, adding that aging is a continuous process, meaning the neck will continue to sag.
Speaking to a board-certified plastic surgeon is always the correct and necessary first step to any procedure, but especially the neck, says Dr. Kolker. "With the neck in particular, you have to be very, very careful to do a complete history and physical examination," he says, explaining that the clinical examination will reveal key factors about a patient's viability, including the elasticity or inelasticity of the skin, the amount of extra fat underneath the chin and the visibility of the platysma muscle.
"It depends on the individual's anatomy and desires, and to choose the most minimally invasive approach that will satisfy their needs over the term they're hoping to achieve the durability of the result," he says.
To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.