Necklines for both men and women can be a focal point of self-consciousness. However, the etiology of an unattractive neckline can be diverse, so treatment options must be tailored to the underlying cause. There is no one solution for everybody. Careful three-dimensional analysis of the soft tissue and underlying bony structure of the midface, lower jaw and neck are imperative to choosing the correct modality to improve your neckline.
Some common underlying causes of poor aesthetic necklines:
Small lower jaw - If you have a deep underbite despite orthodontics and a short chin, this leads to less bone support of the soft tissues of the jawline and submental region. People with this type of lower jaw may have a very obtuse chin-neck angle leading to redundant skin. An ideal treatment for this situation is bony chin advancement (genioplasty).
If your chin is horizontally too short, then an augmentation with a chin implant is an excellent choice. I prefer the Medpore implant, which is carvable, and screw fixated and becomes an extension of the bone.
Both genioplasty and chin implants can easily incorporate the technique of liposuction as a means of sculpting the soft tissues of the neckline by removing unwanted fat. Liposuction induces collagen production and facilities skin shrinkage and redistribution yielding a pleasing result. This combination therapy can produce a wonderful outcome that makes you look more facially balanced. However, if your skin is too loose and hanging, a more formal neck lift may be preferable to liposuction.
Midface descent of soft tissues - Aging can affect facial fat compartments leading to decreased volume, which results in the midface falling over time. This sagging increases nasolabial folds and causes lower facial soft tissue to drape over the jawline. A crisper jawline can be restored by replacing missing soft tissue volume in the fat compartments of the midface with filler agents like Voluma and Sculptra or via fat grafting. Subtle volume enhancements can create a nice effect on the jawline without looking like you've undergone a surgical procedure.
Gravitational changes to the soft tissue of the neck - Gravity affects all of us. The skin and muscles of the anterior neck begin to pull away over time. The appearance of the platysma muscle medial bellies becomes apparent leading to unsightly banding. In the early stages of gravity-induced changes, treatments such as chemical peels, microneedling and radio frequency can yield improvements and delay the inevitable soft-tissue sagging.
Ultimately the best treatment option is a face/neck lift. A well-performed facelift by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon will yield excellent results with longevity of up to ten years depending on how well you age forward and take care of your skin, avoiding further sun damage.
Obesity - People with elevated body mass indices will accumulate increased fat throughout the body. The neck is no exception. Very mild amounts of fat excess with firm, good quality skin may realize improved contours with Kithera (an injectable product that dissolves fat in the neck). However, in my experience, few patients I evaluate are ideal candidates for this treatment. The injection results in inflammation, which can cause collagen production and skin remodeling, but most people need bigger guns to fight the battle. The price of several rounds of injections is as much as a true liposuction with less effective results.
If you have significant fat in the submental region and reasonable skin quality, liposuction can be a great treatment option to uncover a more normal neckline without a lot of expense or downtime. However, a face/neck lift with a corset platysmaplasty is the tried and true corrective option that works very predictably.
If you're obese and undergo bariatric surgery or make lifestyle changes to produce massive weight loss, you'll likely develop excess deflated skin that hangs off your face and neck creating an aesthetic deformity. Modifications of standard face and neck lifts must be incorporated to achieve a pleasing result.
The takeaway is that if you're unhappy with your jaw and neckline, you can improve your appearance and boost your self-confidence by seeking out a proper consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon. During the consult, a detailed facial analysis should be performed. Treatment options can be formulated to yield the best results by addressing your unique issues as presented during the interview. No need to hide your neck behind scarves and turtlenecks any longer.
For more information, including a list of ASPS plastic surgeons in your community, please use our Find a Plastic Surgeon tool.