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

Dr. Barry L. Eppley
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Board Certified Plastic Surgeon