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Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2013 Apr;37(2):205-9. doi: 10.1007/s00266-012-0002-3. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Isolated neck-lifting procedure: isolated stork lift.

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The Morrow Institute, 69780 Stellar Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270, USA.



Many patients desire cosmetic improvement of neck laxity when consulting with a plastic surgeon about their face. Neck laxity and loss of the cervicomental angle can be due to multiple components of aging such as skin quality/elasticity, loss of platysma muscle tone, and submental fat accumulation. Traditionally, the procedure of choice for patients with an aging lower face and neck is a cervicofacial rhytidectomy. However, occasionally, a patient wishes to have no other facial surgery than an improvement of their excessive skin of the anterior, lateral, and/or posterior neck. In other instances, a patient may present with having had a face/neck-lifting procedure that left objectionable vertical/diagonal lines at the lateral neck. In both these instances, a surgeon should consider an isolated stork lift (ISL) procedure. An ISL procedure avoids and/or corrects problematic vertical/diagonal lateral neck folds by "walking" the excess skin flaps around the posterior inferior occipital hairline bilaterally, bringing the flaps together at the lateral and posterior neck, which sometimes involves a midline posterior dart excision of the dog ear. A patient presenting with excessive skin of the neck (anterior, lateral, and/or posterior) and/or residual vertical/diagonal skin folds is an excellent candidate for the ISL.


The ISL procedure was performed on 273 patients over a 2-year period at The Morrow Institute. Patients were included if they had excessive skin of the anterior, lateral, and/or posterior neck and/or diagonal/vertical lateral bands and did not desire a full face-lifting procedure. Patients were excluded from this study if they would not accept having longer hair in order to cover the scar along the posterior inferior occipital hairline or a midline T-flap skin closure scar at the base of the posterior midline neck. Under a combination of local anesthesia and IV sedation, a postauricular face-lift incision was made that was extended in a circumoccipital fashion along the mastoid and posterior hairline to the midline nape of the neck. Long skin flaps were developed by dissecting the anterior neck from the mentum to the anterior clavicles, the lateral neck from the mastoid to the lateral clavicles, and the posterior neck from the hairline to the base of the nape of the neck, all with a combination of sharp and blunt dissection. Suspension sutures of the SMAS were placed at various strategic locations along the lateral neck in a superior posterior vector. The dog ears were walked posteriorly around the hairline, with final trimming at the midline nape using an A-to-T flap closure. The skin closure was affected by a combination of deep and superficial sutures as well as staples. No drains were used on any of the cases.


Of the 273 patients (59 males and 214 females) who had the ISL, 240 rated their satisfaction with the results as very high, 21 rated it as high, and 12 rated it as some what satisfied. The average age of the patients was 58.7 years (range=45-79 years). There were two patients who needed a minimal amount of submental liposuction after the procedure. No patients had vertical/diagonal skin folds after this procedure. Five patients reported being slightly bothered by the appearance of the midline posterior scar for the first 6 months. Three of these cases involved hypertrophic scarring and were treated with intralesional triamcinolone suspension 40 mg per cc dilution; doses ranged from 20 to 40 mg per session and no more than two sessions were required. All five cases rated their scar appearance after 6 months to be acceptable. All of the remaining 268 patients reported that the final posterior scar was virtually undetectable. Ten patients needed scar revision for secondary widening of the scar at various locations of the lateral, posterior, and or nape of the neck. There were no other significant complications. Most patients were satisfied with their cosmetic result 2 years after their operation.


An ISL procedure provides excellent lifting of the anterior, lateral, and posterior neck without the resulting postoperative sequelae of vertical/diagonal lines, and it is especially indicated for the patient who has markedly excessive skin in those areas and does not want to undergo a lower face-lift procedure at the same time.


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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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