Neck Wattles, Turkey Necks and Facelift Surgery

For those who don’t know, the “wattle” is that fleshy fold of skin hanging down from the neck or throat. While not seen as an endearing piece of anatomy as one gets older, it is quite common in birds be it the pelican, common rooster or a Thanksgiving turkey. While it may be cute in a bird and makes it identifiable as a species, I have found no human yet that finds it flattering. Common amongst men and women alike as they get older, this sagging piece of skin and fat is often what bothers them the most about their aging face.

The wonderful world of digital cameras and cell phones have helped some people discover their neck wattles by seeing themselves in  side view in a picture. Men make the discovery when wearing certain shirts and often feel it ‘flopping’ around when they move their heads. (swinging a golf club seems to bring on this sensation)

The good news is that neck wattles can be successfully eliminated and usually much easier than one thinks. The trick is matching the proper solution for the size of the neck wattle. Some wattles are small, others are quite large. Different wattles need different approaches.

The two things that we know about neck contouring is what doesn’t work. There has yet to be a cream that has a real ‘neck rejuvenation’ effect. The winner in that transaction is always the manufacturer and seller of the magical potion. If there was a cream that could really change your neck, we would all know about it and it would cost hundred to thousands of dollars per jar. (wrinkles are one thing, wattles are quite different) The other hopeful but unsuccessful effort is that of neck exercises. If the loose neck was primarily due to muscle looseness, this approach might have some benefit. But for the skin and fat that has become loose and is sliding off the face into your neck, the ‘neck gym’ remains more theoretical than useful. Neck exercising will have about the same benefit as it would for lifting the sagging breast or those eyebrows that just keep getting lower.

While many people would consider having a necklift, they 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 who have ever actually known what a facelift really was. A facelift is really a necklift. But facelifting comes in two varieties which differ based on how much improvement in the neck is needed. A limited facelift (popularly known as a  Lifestyle Lift or jowl lift) is great for jowling but not so much for the neck wattle. For small neck wattles, a Liftstyle Lift combined with liposuction in the neck may just do the trick. For a neck that hangs more, a full facelift is what is needed. It has a powerful change effect on making that neck more shapely and tucked up again.The difference 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 scalp. It is the pull from behind the ear that draws up and tightens the loose skin in the middle of the neck.

The other neck wattle surgery that few people have ever heard of is the direct necklift. It is the real wattle reducer and is the simplest of procedures to go through with but a few days of recovery. By cutting out the wattle directly, it is gone forever and creates a neck shape that hasn’t been seen for decades. The price for this most effective and simplest of wattle solutions is a fine line scar down the center of the neck. For the beard skin of men, this scar heals beautifully and may be the procedure of choice in the older male. For women, the location of this scar must be thought about carefully to determine if this is a good trade-off.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana