I feel really tight in the neck. It's a horrible feeling, day 5 after op. Feeling depressed. Why so tight? I'm worried (Photo)

Doctor Answers 19

Neck Stiffness after Facelift

Neck tightness after a lower facelift and neck lift is quite common. Usually it is the most significant for the first 2-3 days when the head and neck is bandaged with a compression wrap. However, it is possible to still feel uncomfortable tightness for a few weeks afterwards. The reason for this sensation is both the swelling of the muscle (platysma), as well as the actual tension that is placed on the muscle as it is stretched from both sides (below the ears). In addition, sometimes there may be stitches under the chin that make the muscle even tighter initially. The good news is that this sensation always goes away with time (in my practice I have never had a patient experience this over one month post-op). I would also mention that an initial uncomfortable tight sensation probably leads to a longer term better result since it was pulled so taught from the beginning.

Las Vegas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

A tight sensation is normal after a neck lift

It is very common to experience a feeling of tightness after face or neck lift surgery. The muscles need to be tightened significantly, as they will relax and loosen again over time. As long as you are not having problems breathing or swallowing, you should be fine and the feeling of tightness will subside over time. If you are very concerned, visit your surgeon for a follow up visit. I hope this helps.

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Concern after Facelift Surgery

Based on your photo's everything looks fantastic. Tightness means that the tissues are in the right spot. The swelling will increase the tightness so the odds are , things are great. 

Follow up with your surgeon to help re-assure yourself. 

I also posted a discussion on healing after a facelift. 

Dr Bonaparte

James Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Ottawa Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Feel tight five days after facelift

A tight feeling is not uncommon after a facelift.  Depression can occur because of the pain and other medications and should resolve after you stop.

Don't worry too much, there is not an obvious problem in your pictures.

Continue to have dialogue with your surgeon.

Ernest Robinson, MD
Aliso Viejo Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Neck tightness and depression after a facelift

Very sorry to hear about your difficulties recovering from your surgery.  What you are experiencing with both the tightness and the feelings of depression are common after surgery.

In terms of the tightness,
The main technique of a facelift surgery is to lift and tighten the muscles underneath the skin.  This tightening of the muscle not only creates an improved contour of the neck and jawline area, but also can give you the sensation of tightness in the neck.  Some patients will feel like they cannot turn their head.  Others feel like it effects their ability to swallow.  In either case, you will still be able to swallow and breathe normally.  Your neck motion will return to normal after you are done with the healing process.  The sensation of tightness will also return to normal.  This typically takes about 2 weeks.

In terms of feelings of depression,
Those feelings after a facelift (or any surgery) are very common.  Surgery puts stress on your body, and the recovery period takes patience and energy that can be difficult to find sometimes.  I recommend to my patients to try to do as many normal day-to-day things as you can tolerate.  Go for a walk with friends.  Get some takeout dinner.  Read a good book or watch one of your favorite movies.  As you heal and your body recovers, you can gradually feel like yourself again.  You also get to enjoy your new, youthful look!

Best of luck in your recovery process.

Kyle T. Yamamoto, MD
Reno Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Post operative recovery after facelift surgery

Tightness of the neck is a common sensation that people have after facelift surgery. At 5 days you still have significant swelling and is contributes to the "tight" feeling. As time goes on this should subside. Getting better daily. In a few weeks you may still have numbers in your neck, but most of the uncomfortable feeling that you are experiencing should subside. 

Jacob D. Steiger, MD
Boca Raton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews


The tight feeling typically resolves in a week or two.  Occasionally it takes longer depending upon the technique used.  Some people are just more sensitive to the tightness than others and you just have to believe it will go away.
As for the depression, you MUST believe it will resolve with time.  Depression is not uncommon after facial rejuvenation surgery because the temporary changes in your face can seem distorting, even though you know it is temporary.  I find that the best treatment for my patients is to get out of the house in the evening with whatever effective cover they need.  Seeing a movie or something similar that is distracting and gets you out of your head is some of the best therapy.  However, if the depression persists for more than a couple weeks and discussions with your surgeon have no affect, you will need to see a professional in that area.

R. Scott Yarish, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Face lift - neck tightness and depressed 5 days later

Thank you for asking about your face lift.

  • A face and neck lift tightens the muscles in the neck and causes swelling.
  • It slowly subsides over the first 1 - 2 weeks in most women.
  • Depression is normal in the first 2 weeks after surgery -
  • Discussing your concerns with your surgeon can help with the depression and reassure you.
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Best wishes - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Neck Tightness is Normal

Thank you for your question. I hear your concern about the tightness in your neck after a facelift.  Fortunately, this is normal and should resolve with time.  Be sure to discuss your concern with your surgeon, to assure that nothing else could be going on; however, I this will be okay as your neck will loosen.

I am also sorry that your are feeling depressed.  I will often counsel my own patients, that feelings of sadness and/or anxiety are normal and expected after facial procedures.  As you continue to recover, and swelling resolves, your feelings hopefully will change, and your will start to enjoy your refreshed look!  Again, be sure to mention this to your surgeon.

I hope that this helps!
-David Gilpin

David Gilpin, MD
Nashville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Tightness in the neck after lower face-lift

Hi there. After a lower face and neck-lift, it is quite common to have a feeling of tightness in the neck. Tightening or suspension of the superficial muscles of the neck (platysma) is one of the key manoeuvres in delivering a pleasing jawline. The muscle is often overtightened initially as it tends to slacken off with time. This should settle over a period of weeks. If you are concerned, then obviously it is best to contact your surgeon directly. Good luck!

William Townley, MD, FRCS(Plast)
London Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.