My Experience, Chronicled: Neck Lift Scars & Lumps & Bumps- Los Angeles, CA
- updated 6 months ago
Okay, I am almost three weeks post-op from a...
- 11 Mar 2013
Okay, I am almost three weeks post-op from a corset platysmaplasty and submental lipectomy (removal of fat under my chin). I am having a hard time with my recovery and am looking for any way to connect with anyone who may also have some experience and can comment on whether what I am going through is normal, or not.
I haven't decided if this was "worth it" or not, yet, as I am not sure if these scars are permanent or long-term or just part of the healing process... I will probably know soon. I will continue to update this as I go...
Okay. So, the background: I am 35 and started to get a fat pad under my chin, which I hated. It was a small double chin. I researched doctors in my area (I live in a well-off part of Los Angeles) and found a double-board certified doctor with tons of accolades and awards for facial plastic surgery. he's been on TV, etc.
I must have visited with him in his office 4 separate times for consultations before I decided I was ready for the surgery. He was very nice and his staff was great and they clearly made craploads of money (it's a nice office/location) and he was extremely confident we could fix my neck exactly how I wanted it to be: no more fatty chin. He suggested we do a platysmaplasty and get rid of the fat pad under my chin; it seemed like a good plan at the time.
It was very expensive, but I have heard that in this business, you get what you pay for. There went my entire savings account! But I didn't mind, because I was finally going to fix this issue that made me so very self conscious.
The surgery itself was fine, the first 1.5 weeks were fine! I wore my head wrap garment day and night and followed all the rules. I was totally swollen and had black and blue spots everywhere, but I was fine with it because I knew the outcome would be a nice neck (I haven't had that since I was a little girl!). I waited until 1.5 weeks, then I was told I could take my compression garment off and just wear it at night.
That's when I realized something was very wrong.
It wasn't swelling under my chin; it was thick, hard, painful scar tissue. Excessive scar tissue running under my skin, down my incision to my adam's apple. Dimpled, lumpy, rumply, indented cellulite-looking hard scar tissue.
This was not part of the deal.
I was told I would be back to work in 5-7 days, and look "normal" again except for some minor swelling after 2 weeks and my tiny incision. I most definitely do not look normal. I can tell I have some swelling still, and my incision is red, but I was prepared for both of those. What I was not prepared for is the thick ugly horrible and painful scar tissue all up and down the front of my neck. I no longer have smooth skin; it is as if I have terrible cellulite under my chin. I traded in a smooth fat pad for a hard, lumpy pad of scar tissue: profile is the same as before, just far uglier now. I'm horrified.
I called my DR. and came in to see him. He said very casually, "Oh, you're developing some scar tissue. Are you massaging it? Are you putting a scar gel on it?" I replied no, because he had not told me to do either. How would I know to do either of those things? So he instructed me on how to massage the area and sold me a 67 dollar bottle of scar gel (really? he couldn't throw that in for free considering he was the one that scarred me for 4500?). He told me "this is normal and will go away". When? He couldn't say. Only time will tell.
I massage the entire area three times a day even though it makes me sick to my stomach to touch my neck and the bumpy skin. It also still hurts, mostly because the scar tissue is so tight; if I turn my head to look at the sky I feel as if I am being strangled. So I start googling. I come across this site and makemeheal.com. According to mass experience with scar tissue, it lasts MONTHS, usually about a year, . That is, when it goes away. It does always go away. Sometimes you have to do a lot of laser techniques, ultrasound, or even have revision surgery to fix it. My Doctor did not mention this.
Right now I'm angry and feel very much that I would like to go back in time and just live with my chin fat. I feel deformed and disfigured. The past two weeks have been extremely hard on my physically and emotionally (and monetarily), but because I knew I'd have a nice neck at the end of it all it it gave me the courage to do it. Now I have no nice neck; I have what may be years of scar tissue and future surgeries ahead of me. I will probably never have the neck I want. And in addition, I will have scars to remind me of my mistake.
I meet with my doctor tomorrow, again ( I insisted on another appointment where I will be demanding some more concrete answers and a cortisone injection, as I hear that is something that can help) to let him know I am NOT OKAY with walking around deformed for 3, 6 or 12 months to "see if it goes away on its own". I realize plastic surgery comes with risks, but if doctors were upfront and honest about recovery times, the likelihood of scarring (very likely if you get lipo on the face or neck regions) would have been something I was prepared for. Honestly, I would have opted to not do the surgery. Which is probably why they don't tell you. They also are not upfront about recovery. They say things like, "after two weeks you will feel great and only have a tiny teeny scar you can cover with makeup" but the minute you are done with surgery they insist that it takes a full three months to look normal, if not a full year. Change of tune.
For anyone thinking of platysmaplasty and neck lip or lipectomay, know: massive excessive scar tissue is very clearly a big risk. Just google it and see the many many posts on this site alone about people with this very same issue. It is not "normal", it is considered a complication of surgery, and it happens more often that you would think.
Okay, I will be updating after my meeting with my doctor tomorrow morning.
I saw the doctor this morning, and he injected my...
- 13 Mar 2013
I feel much better after meeting with him this morning and am willing to try to relax for the next two weeks or so to see if the shots make a difference, or if it starts reducing on its own.
The truth is that even if you think you are prepared for surgery, it is way more painful mentally and emotionally that you realize. Something psychological happens when you undergo surgery, the drugs from anesthesia, and the resulting healing process. You definitely do not look great right away. It is a long healing process which is emotional and difficult. Don't let anyone try to tell you differently. If you read this thinking, "Yeah, but not me! I'm different!" you're wrong. You too. You just don't know it yet because you haven't actually had your surgery yet.
When it comes to my expectations of what my recovery time would be, I was told what many people are told: 5-7 days, or 2 weeks for full normalcy. (google these boards and realself.com and you will find dozens of people with frantic anxiety-ridden posts about their thick neck scar swelling and tissue after 2, 4, 6, and 8, 10 weeks and beyond).
You will not (repeat: NOT) look and feel normal after a platysmaplasty after 5-7 days. If you have neck liposuction or a lipectomy too, you will need at least three weeks to look "normal" enough to leave the house without people stopping and asking you what kind of horrible accident you were in. I did not have skin removed or taken up behind my ears, but I can only imagine that that will add on to the healing time as well, so expect to wait even longer, possibly a month or 6 weeks, before you feel confident enough to roam amongst humans again without little children running and screaming at your appearance or your Mom crying when she sees you. If you are unlucky, like me, and have excessive scar tissue build up, expect to wait at least 6 weeks from the day of your surgery to look normal, but be ready to wait as long as 6 months or even a year or a few years if you have severe scar tissue, hematomas, seromas, or any kind of complication at all. If you work, and have to go back after 7 days, you will have to tell everyone you had surgery. No one will be fooled. I would recommend, based on my experience, that you take two full weeks off of work and then be prepared to look as though you had plastic surgery when you return. A dab of makeup on your red chin incision is not going to conceal the swelling, unevenness, or (god forbid) any lumpy complications from scar tissue. If your goal is to go away on a "vacation" and show up refreshed and looking healthy when you return, set aside two full months (and even then, if you have complications, you won't look normal yet). Barring complications, two full months seems like the right amount of time to heal from a normal, successful neck lift.
Am I trying to talk you out of surgery? No.. I am sure that in "the end" (whenever that is) I will love my new neck. When is that, though? In a year? If the doctor had told me I'd lose a six months or a year of my (fading) looks and confidence to correct what was a relatively minor imperfection, I would have chosen not to have the surgery. That doesn't mean you will or should make the same choice, however. It may be worth it to you, and you may one of the lucky ones that heals in a month and never has any scar tissue. There is no way of knowing; it is a gamble you must take.
You hopefully won't get this kind of scar tissue, but you will definitely have a red scar on your chin, swelling that could last several weeks, and you will not see your new neck for a while. This is hard, no matter how you slice it. Even if you feel strong (I did) just be prepared for the emotional aftermath and take those "depression after surgery" hand outs and websites seriously. It is apparently quite common to feel anxiety about the outcome and despair at not seeing what you expected to see...no one is exempt. If you are filthy rich, don't have to work, can hire a maid and a nanny and sit at home for three months watching movies and healing, then your emotional experience may be a lot better. If, like me, you have some kind of occupation and need to visit the store to buy your own groceries, get used to questioning if you made the right decision. Once you do it, you can't turn back, so prepare yourself for any negative complications and know what they are and be realistic about the healing time. No one told me what a realistic healing timeline was, so I hope that this can tell you and help you make your decision.
I will continue to update and let everyone know how my excessive scar tissue goes with the cortisone.
When I woke up in the morning after getting the...
- 13 Mar 2013
It isn't really swelling; it's scar tissue. This is incredibly depressing on so many levels. Another woman who had a neck lift who is experiencing the same problem posted on realself today; this seems to be really common and I am shocked and appalled that my doctor did not mention this could happen. I would never have gotten the surgery.
Okay, I am hearing from a few people on this site...
- 14 Mar 2013
The doctors seem to concur that all of this is within normal parameters.
Which is why I am wondering why I didn't hear a single word about this possibility from my doctor before the surgery. I mean, if it s so common, why not at least warn a patient? Why not say, "Okay, SO, if after the surgery, in the coming weeks, you develop weird bulges on your neck that make you feel like you have ALIEN parasite snakes crawling around under your skin, that is normal and do not freak out and get suicidal and go posting like an insane woman all over Internet message boards, okay? Just massage."
I think we all know the answer to that.
Also, the cortisone seems to have helped *a bit*. It's slightly less bumpy.
I know I haven't posted any pictures, but if you want to know what it looks like, it looks pretty much exactly like jenanne's photos: http://www.realself.com/question/lumpiness-and-mottling-weeks-after-necklift
I will post pics as soon as I can! This is silly but I lost the chord from my camera to my computer. Yes, my phone can take pics but I am one of those people who lives in the dark ages who does not have their phone hooked up to the Internet.
Added several photos today; the photos are of my 4...
- 15 Mar 2013
I am sorry I don't have an image from one week ago, when it was twice the size and giant and scarier.
In any case, I am still disappointed in this lumpiness and bumpiness. When you look at it, it looks like I have very bad cellulite under my chin. Except that the cellulite is HARD.
I started using ScarAway silicone strips on my incision and they are making a very drastic difference in the appearance of that scar. After one week, it is already less red and less raised. I will continue to use them. Too bad they don't work on scar tissue under the neck!
I have more pictures coming: profile shots from before the surgery and two weeks after the surgery from my doctor's office; waiting for them to send them to me. We'll decide if the surgery made a positive impact on profile or not despite the unsightly scar tissue.
I have to say - google "neck lift+lumps" and about...
- 15 Mar 2013
How can this be? How can Plastic Surgeons be that unwilling to discuss the truth with their patients? 9/10 times, the person writing the forum post follows up by saying their doctor told them it was normal to experience uneveness, bumpiness, lumps and worse for weeks to months after a face and neck lift. WTF? Even the doctors on Realself all tell you how absolutely normal and expected it is.
If it is so normal and expected, why haven't any of those hundreds of people online, or myself, ever heard of it? I mean, we GOT THE SURGERY, why weren't we informed that we'd have lumps and bumps afterwards? Why?
I'm a bit angry. It seems standard practice to withhold this information from patients.
Either it's normal or it isn't. If it's normal and expected, I expect I should have heard from my surgeon, before the surgery, that this would happen to me. I didn't. If it Isn't normal and expected, I wish doctors on realself and elsewhere would stop pretending it is normal to placate the scared and angry people asking questions about their recovery.
So, after about a month, this kind of thing really...
- 18 Mar 2013
My neck swelled up again worse than ever, worse than before the cortisone. More scar tissue has formed since and it is bulky and textured like cellulite.
I'm purposefully isolating myself from friends and family because I am ashamed of my neck; I feel lonely and totally ashamed of how i look. I hate my neck far more than I ever did before my surgery. I have given up on ever feeling attractive again; these scars are going to be here for a long, long time. I should get used to being ugly.
The awful thing is, I PAID someone a lot of money to do this to me, on purpose.
I saw my dermatologist today and asked her for a...
- 21 Mar 2013
I had originally planned to get some perlane and...
- 25 Mar 2013
I have panic attacks more often, I am nervous and anxious all the time. I have trouble making decisions. I don't trust myself. I am unhappy. I am scared of getting perlane now, something I did many times in the past.
This surgery has made me really unhappy...
I am still terrified to see my family as I know they will know what I did and be upset for me and at me that I have such bad scarring. I am insecure, in general, about my neck and lower my head and don't look people in the eye.
At 5 weeks I should have smooth skin, not hideous bumpy skin. I'm so upset and sad.
My shame and sadness is forcing me to isolate myself, in general, from friends and family. I literally can't go to talk about this with anyone.
my primary care physician says my dermatologist is out of her mind, prescribing doxycycline hyclate for post-op surgery swelling. So I guess I won't be trying that.
My skin is slowly regaining feeling; the numbness is going away and I can feel that the whole area under my chin is still sore. After 5 weeks??? I have never had an injury this bad in my life. It's shocking how little doctors prepare you for this stuff.
So, I think I have PTSD. I have such bad anxiety,...
- 31 Mar 2013
I also think I have body dysmorphic disorder. I am going to seek treatment asap.
All in all, I definitely would not recommend this surgery to anyone, based on the last 6 weeks.
My Dr. did absolutely zero screenings for whether I would be a PTSD risk. Apparently, it is common for people to have severe anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after this kind of surgery. here's an academic study in which psychological complications were found to be far more prevalent in patients undergoing plastic surgery than physical complications: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10513902
" Most surgeons (75.8 percent) reported that screening for depression was important, but only 18.8 percent identified screening for post-traumatic stress disorder as important, even though 86 percent had diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder in their postoperative patients."
yeah. 86% of 281 plastic surgery patients developed PTSD symptoms in this controlled, scientific study. I guess I am a statistic now!
I did learn a valuable lesson, if nothing else: your life and day to day happiness is not dependent on what your chin looks like. Life is too short to spend weeks recovering from debilitating, unnecessary surgeries that are sold to us as a product by doctors who have devoted their lives to superficial, non-healing procedures.
So, I feel like *maybe* the scar tissue and...
- 3 Apr 2013
Isn't it bad that I can't tell the difference? I can't look in the mirror and accurately gauge whether there is healing progress or not. That bothers me.
I am having this weird horrible issue which is that now that my neck is done I keep seeing things everywhere all over my face that need fixing. Things that didn't bother me much before but now are driving me crazy: frown lines, crow's feet, marionette lines... before my chin was my only major issue, I thought.
Is it Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Just aging? Stress? who knows.
The downside: even if my chin heals, clearly I will never be satisfied with the way I look.
Week 7 now - lumps are fading a tiny bit. Numbness...
- 10 Apr 2013
I won't lie; I'm getting used to it. I don't cry anymore when I look in the mirror. I just sigh loudly and accept that I look F****** weird. I definitely don't think my neck/chin look prettier than before.
I am holding out hope that month three will be the magic number for lumps and bumps fading. I can finally see my family again when they go away! Been avoiding seeing anyone as I feel really foolish for doing this to myself.
It is week 8, and I am on the brink of a severe...
- 20 Apr 2013
I don't know what I thought my neck would fix - would it make me feel young again? Make me feel pretty? I guess that's what I thought.
I don't. I feel angry and confused and I hate my life more than before the surgery, if possible.
I need some serious professional help but can't afford it; my health insurance is quite bottom of the barrel and I can't seem to get an appointment with a psychiatrist. Imagine if I'd taken my neck lift money and spent it on psychiatry instead!
This life is sad, too long, lonely, and ultimately you go through everything alone. I'm not sure how to get better from here, on the inside. I don't feel that I have a lot of options.
9 weeks now, and realizing that some of the bumps...
- 6 May 2013
Super depressed, that's how it goes.
- 1 Jun 2013
I don't know why this system couldn't find my doctor when I wrote this review; I just found him on the site and he has a listing. Anyway... Dr. Marcus is really really nice and has a great bedside manner. However, he in no way prepared me for the stress and pain of my surgery recovery and the aftercare has been scant. I was told I'd have a few weeks of swelling and a small scar, but at week 9, I have lots of swelling and a very large thick terrible scar that is really ugly. I am really unhappy with my healing process and some complications that I have had, and I don't feel that my issues were treated with respect or with the concern that was warranted. He did not look into my psychological medical history or do any kind of mental health screening at all and if he had, he would have found out I was chronically depressed and not a good candidate for this kind of surgery. Live and learn.