In her best-selling book I Feel Bad About My Neck, the late author Nora Ephron wrote, “I can’t stand people who say that ‘it’s great to be old, great to be at the point where you understand what really matters in life.’ What can they be thinking? Don’t they have necks?”
Walter Dowgiallo, 64, has never read Ephron’s book, but he became bothered with “this little thing under my chin. I didn’t like it and felt I really needed to look good because of the business I’m in.”
Dowgiallo, the father of four adult children, owns a company that creates the aesthetic labels and packaging for Victoria’s Secret, Liz Claiborne, and Bath & Body Works products, among others. “I felt I needed more pizzazz, that I had to look as good as the product I made,” he says, “and nature is not always as nice to you as it is to some people.
Since plastic surgeon Joel J. Feldman “lifted” his neck six years ago, Dowgiallo says he feels “spectacular. If you look good, you feel great. Every day I get up, look in the mirror and say ‘Wow!’?”
It used to be that cosmetic surgeons would not treat the neck alone. Men and women who coveted a tight neck and enviable profile had to endure a full face-lift. But 20 years ago, Feldman, who practices in Cambridge, Mass., published the results of his work on a “corset platysmaplasty,” a procedure that, through a small incision tucked under the chin, could tighten the muscles of the neck and reshape the jaw line.
Today, a growing number of surgeons are using that procedure or a variation of it to address the neck only. New York surgeon Alan Matarasso says that half of the lifts he does each year are solely neck lifts.
This is good news, says Kevin J. Cross, a plastic surgeon who practices in Philadelphia and on the Main Line, for people who have been unhappy with their necks for years but were reluctant to have a full face-lift. He describes a typical patient, Elaine, who lives in Bala Cynwyd and didn’t want her last name used because of the stigma some people associate with cosmetic surgery. Elaine came to him inquiring about Ulthera, a nonsurgical skin-tightening treatment. But Cross was candid. “Ulthera isn’t for everyone,” he told her. “You won’t be happy with the results.” Cross advised her to consider surgery. “If you were my relative, that’s what I’d tell you,” he said.