Neck Surgery: Long-Term Care

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Depending on your individual circumstances, neck surgery can either be the first-line or the final step of your medical transformation. In less-invasive cosmetic surgeries, most patients are back to their usual lifestyle within weeks of the procedure. Aside from the need for additional sunscreen and the potential for minor revisions, neck lifts are much less demanding than other surgeries of the neck.

After neck surgery on the spine, you may have more long-term considerations to deal with. Luckily, most of the side-effects are positive as long as your procedure is completed by a qualified and experienced surgeon.

Surgery for head and neck cancer can lead to more difficult lifestyle adjustments, especially when treatment impacts your ability to eat, breathe, and move as you did in the past. Whatever the reason for your neck surgery, here are some tips on living your best life after the procedure.

Benefits of Neck Surgery

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

Benefits of Surgery

A more youthful appearance begins to reveal itself within a few days of a cosmetic neck lift procedure, giving many patients a confidence boost and anticipation for what's to come. It'll be about six months before you get to see the full results of your neck lift. By this time the swelling fully subsides and incision scars should be healed.

To maintain your results, be mindful of your skincare routine. Make an effort to wear sunscreen and avoid skin damage that can detract from your results.

Your cosmetic surgeon may have suggestions on neck creams that you can use going forward to maintain tight and smooth skin. Proper hydration is essential to skin health, so it's a good idea to develop a regular water-drinking habit if you haven't already.

For people dealing with chronic neck pain or mobility issues, spinal surgery can bring on several benefits to their quality of life that can't be achieved through other therapies. Non-surgical options like chiropractic treatments, massages, pain management, and physical therapy usually provide a temporary solution. However, surgery may be the only way to truly fix an underlying neck problem.

Contrary to common misconceptions, going forward with spinal surgery (as opposed to wasting time with less effective treatments) generally leads to greater patient satisfaction and faster recovery times.

Some of the lifelong improvements after neck surgery can include:

  • Elimination of pain and discomfort
  • Fewer medications
  • Greater productivity and motivation
  • Increased mobility
  • More stamina

If neck issues were holding you back from exercise, surgery can enable you to live a more active and healthy lifestyle. Better mood and a more positive outlook are likely side-effects once neck pain is no longer a lingering issue.

Cancer remission is an obvious benefit of neck surgery for tumors. When cancer is identified early, surgical removal can limit the spread and need for additional treatments. Knowing that a tumor was fully removed can offer peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Possible Future Surgeries

After healing from a neck lift, it's possible that you'll be unhappy with the final result. In this case, you may consider a revision or supplemental cosmetic work to achieve the effect you were hoping for.

Options may include botox, fillers, laser treatments, or another neck surgery. Although this outcome isn't ideal, it's best to follow your surgeon's advice so you can be truly happy with the ultimate outcome.

You're less likely to be disappointed by the results if your neck lift was performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. This is also the best person to advise you on further treatment options.

After spinal surgery, follow-up surgeries are unlikely. Following your healthcare provider's recommendations for physical therapy and proper recovery are essential to achieving the best possible long-term results.

It's not unusual for cancer patients to require more than one surgical procedure to address head and neck cancers. Depending on the size and location of your tumor and whether or not cancer has spread, you may be required to undergo multiple operations. Reconstructive surgery to replace tissue that was removed can improve a patient's self-esteem and the ability to function.

Lifestyle Adjustments

For most neck lift patients, life after the operation won't be significantly different. Aside from the positive results that you see in the mirror (and an uptick in compliments from friends and family), your normal lifestyle will resume as soon as you complete the initial recovery phase.

For satisfied neck lift patients, a good experience with this procedure may prompt you to consider additional cosmetic work. A boost in self-esteem can inspire you to be more outgoing, physically active, or in-tune with your personal style.

Greater lifestyle adjustments are required after spinal surgery or the removal of neck tumors. Ideally, exercise will become easier and more fun after the restoration of mobility and resolution of pain through surgery.

Neck cancers related to smoking and alcohol intake can prompt patients to make positive lifestyle changes. Similarly, skin cancer of the neck will require greater diligence with sun protection and regular skin checks.

Neck surgery involving the larynx can alter a patient's ability to speak. The larynx is our natural voice box. If it's surgically altered or removed, technological devices may be required to enable regular speech.

Surgery that impacts breathing ability will necessitate a temporary or permanent tracheostomy, a surgical opening of the windpipe to enable airflow. If chewing and swallowing become unsafe after surgery, neck cancer patients may need to follow a modified diet with thickened liquids, or use a feeding tube for nourishment.

The required lifestyle adjustments after neck surgery can range from minimal to drastic. The need to make significant changes can lead to depression for some patients. If you're struggling to cope with life after neck surgery, reach out to your healthcare provider for a referral to mental health services.

A Word From Verywell

The recovery from neck surgery doesn't always proceed in a straight line forward. You may face some twists and turns in the road before fully healing and enjoying the benefits of your procedure. If the process takes a bit longer than you anticipated, try to be patient and give yourself the time needed to get your mind and body back on track. Help is available if you need someone to talk to for support.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgery. Neck lift, lower rhytidectomy.

  2. LaRocca S. The long-term benefits of spine surgery. New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C.

  3. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Head and neck cancer: types of treatment.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Neck lift.

  5. LaRocca S. Cervical neck surgery recovery guide: 5 tips to speed up time it takes to heal. New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C.

  6. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Head and neck cancer: Risk factors and prevention.

  7. MedlinePlus. Voice box.

  8. John Hopkins Medicine. What is a tracheostomy?.

By Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N
Anastasia, RDN, CD-N, is a writer and award-winning healthy lifestyle coach who specializes in transforming complex medical concepts into accessible health content.