What Is The Risk Of Nerve Injury From Neck Liposuction?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I would like to get liposuction for my heavy neck and jowls but am afraid of potential nerve injury causing a droopy mouth. I don’t want to run the risk of trading off one problem for another. But I just hate my profile. I want a more defined neck. At age 35, I should still have a younger looking neck with an angle not a full fat one wiithout one. What are the chances of nerve injury and how can it be avoided. If it is injured is it ever permanent?  Thank you

A: Like all surgeries, even relatively simple neck liposuction has risks. The potential nerve damage to which you refer that is in the area of submental and neck liposuction is that of the marginal mandibular branch of the facial nerve. This tiny single branched nerve supplies some movement to the lower lip, primarily being responsible for the depressor anguli oris muscle which creates downward lip movement. It crosses over the lower border of the jaw at the side the chin. It can potentially be traumatized if liposuction is done too far up around the jowl area where the nerve is. It can be avoided by not trying to be too aggressive with treating the jowl area and staying below the border of the jaw, confining the movement of the liposuction cannula to the neck area only. Even if the nerve is traumatized, the blunt cannulas will not cut the nerve but bruise it. This may cause some temporary weakness but almost never permanent paralysis.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana