Surgically placed ’sling’ reduces signs of aging in the neck

A thin, plastic “sling” surgically placed under the skin beneath the skin and jaws helps reduce the saggy appearance of the neck that results from aging, according to an article in the November/December issue of The Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, aging is often accompanied by changes in the face and neck, including loss of elasticity in the skin and an increase in the amount of fat in the neck, causing it to sag. Part of the reason the neck begins to droop is because the underlying muscle that acts as a kind of “sling” has stretched over time and can no longer support the tissues under the chin. Several plastic surgery procedures have been used to combat the signs of aging in the face and neck area, including face lifts and liposuction.

Wallace K. Dyer II, M.D., and Arvind Prabhat, M.D., of Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, investigated the use of an artificial plastic sling to help lift the tissues under the chin to give a more youthful appearance. The permanent sling – a narrow strip of polytetrafluoroethylene (a kind of plastic) – is surgically attached under the skin and is positioned beginning behind one earlobe, extends below the jaw and chin and ends behind the other earlobe.

The researchers implanted the sling in 100 patients when they underwent various other plastic surgery procedures to rejuventate the neck (including liposuction and skin tightening) between October 1996 and December 1998 (88 women; average age 54 years old). The average follow-up for the patients was about three years.

“Subjective assessment of the sling procedure by 99 of the 100 patients at 12 months after initial placement revealed a satisfaction rate in appearance (met or exceeded expectations) of greater than 90 percent,” the authors write. “Eight patients felt that the procedure did not meet expectation. A total of 99 patients (100 percent) assessed felt no discomfort with the sling procedure at 12 months. There were no requests for sling removal, and 86 patients claimed that they would recommend the procedure to a friend or relative.”

(Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5:491-501. Available post-embargo at archfacial.com)

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