Turkeynecks and Plastic Surgery

Turkey and Thanksgiving go together like no other holiday and food combination. While there is no evidence that it was ever actually served at the first pilgrim’s festival, it became a mainstay shortly thereafter. While many will anxiously await for their share of the turkey this holiday, whether it is a leg, breast or stuffing, no one aspires for the turkey neck.

This fleshy fold of hanging skin, known as the neck wattle in the bird, appears in people as well. While in turkeys it occurs mainly in the male, in humans the turkey neck is not gender specific. As we age, the appearance of one’s neck often becomes a bothersome issue. The loss of a once smooth jaw line and a shapely neck shows the effects of gravity and time. Catching one’s profile in a picture can sometimes be disturbing…who is that older person with such a floppy neck?

While creams and other potions do much to alleviate’s one’s pocketbook, the turkeyneck is otherwise a surgical problem. Forget about non-invasive options or ‘lunchtime’ type procedures. These simply will not work for the dangling neck no matter how they are marketed or hopeful one is. For the full neck with good skin, and if one is young enough, good results can be had with liposuction alone. But when the skin is loose and floppy, fat removal alone with only make the neck skin more loose and floppy.

If you can grab a wad of neck skin and fat between your fingers, then some form of a facelift procedure is what is needed. Using the term facelift can be confusing as this procedure often conjures up images of extensive surgery from the forehead down to the neck. In reality, a facelift is really a neck and jowl operation and does not affect the face above the jaw line. It is a poorly named procedure and the term necklift would more accurately describe it than calling it a facelift. It is really less extensive and easier to go through than most people actually think.

When it comes to facelifts (aka necklifts), there are numerous options.Which one is best for any particular person is determined by how much loose neck skin one has. Some jowling and a little loose neck skin may only need a limited facelift. (often called the Lifestyle Lift) If there is a lot of loose neck skin, then the more complete facelift is really needed. This is a powerful neck changer and can produce some really dramatic results. For those that want the least invasive amount of surgery but with a dramatic change, the turkeyneck can be directly cut out in a procedure appropriately called the direct necklift.

The turkeyneck is not a desired culinary item on the bird and many people don’t like it on themselves either. While year round turtlenecks are always an option, a little skillful carving may be a better solution.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Hate Your Turkeyneck?

The association of turkey and theThanksgiving holiday goes back for over three hundred years. While there is no real evidence that it was ever served at the first pilgrim’s festival, it became a mainstay shortly thereafter. While many people will anxiously await for their share of the turkey this holiday, albeit a leg, breast or otherwise, nobody aspires to have a turkey neck.

This well recognized fleshy fold of hanging skin, known as a wattle in the bird, appears in people as well. While in turkeys it occurs mainly in the male, in humans the turkey neck is not gender specific. For some, the neck is often one of the biggest areas of concern as one ages. The loss of the once smooth jaw line and a more well-defined neck angle are telltale signs of the effects of gravity and time. The turkey neck is just an advanced stage of neck aging as it eventually flops from side to side in the older patient.

While year round turtlenecks are an option, it is otherwise a surgical problem. Forget about non-invasive options or ‘lunchtime’ type procedures. These simply will not work for the turkey neck no matter how they are marketed. If the neck and jowls are made up mainly of fat with good skin, as usually occurs in the younger patient, then good results can be had with liposuction alone. But when the skin is loose and floppy, fat removal alone with only make the neck skin more loose and floppy

If you can grab a wad of neck skin between your fingers, then some form of a facelift procedure is what is needed. Using the term facelift can be confusing as this procedure often conjures up images of extensive facial surgery throughout the whole face. In reality, a facelift only effects the neck and jowl area and will do nothing for the face above the jaw line. It is a poorly named procedure and a facelift should be called a neck-jowl lift. It is really less extensive and easier to go through than most people actually think.

In actuality, there are only two types of facelifts… limited and full. Which one is best for any particular6 person is determined by the amount of loose neck skin that one has. If the loose neck skin is not extensive, a limited facelift may be enough as this lifts the loose jowl skin a lot and the loose neck skin a little. If there is a lot of loose neck skin, then a full facelift is really needed. This is the most powerful neck procedure and can produce some really dramatic results. The differences between the two are how much of an incision is needed around the ear and the number of days of recovery needed. (even though the recovery is really about how you look or a social issue, there is next to pain at all for either)

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

Can You Help Me Get Rid Of My Turkey Neck?

Q: I am 65 years old and am extremely bothered by my turkey wattle. I do not look my age except this makes me very self conscious. I want to get rid of it with some type of neck procedure. What do you recommend?

A: Sagging or drooping of one’s neck is one of the most bothersome features of facial aging. While some people would never consider undergoing a ‘facelift’, they want some type of neck procedure to deal with their most troublesome age-related issue.

Aging necks are referred to many uncomplimentary names such as turkey neck and neck wattle. Some people become initially aware of it when they see themselves in profile in a photograph. Others notice it, particularly men, when wearing certain shirts and certainly in a shirt and tie. Others do not like, understandably, that it can be felt to move or flop when turning their head. (in more advanced aging)

Interestingly, some people would consider a necklift but wouldn’t dare undergo a facelift. This comes from a misunderstanding of the two procedures, not realizing that they are largely one and the same.  I have found only a handful of patients in my Indianapolis plastic surgery practice who actually knew what a facelift really was.

A facelift is primarily a necklift. The type of facelift determines how much improvement in the neck is obtained. A limited facelift (aka Lifestyle Lift) has a minor effect on neck sagging and is best for just minor neck problems. It is primarily a jowl changing procedure. A full facelift is a powperful changer of the aging neck. The differerence between the two is the location and extent of the incisions around the ears. To really change the neck in more significant wattles and sagging, the facelift must have an incision that goes up behind the ear and back into the occipital scalp. It is the pull from behind the ear that changes the neck. You can demonstrate this quite simply with your fingers in front of a mirror. A manuever that many patients with aging faces have done regularly.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana