The cosmetic Z-plasty: Restoring and refining an old technique for neck rejuvenation

May 7, 2014
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Direct excision of the “turkey neck” skin fold with Z-plasty closure was introduced in the 1970s, but it has fallen out of favor in an era in which much emphasis is placed on minimizing visible scars. Although the newer techniques may effectively improve the aesthetic contour of the neck without leaving visible scars, they may not be optimal for selected patients who want a quick, “no-hassle” correction of their neck contour without changing the overall appearance of their face. We conducted a retrospective study of 50 patients-47 men and 3 women, aged 59 to 80 years (mean: 70)-who had undergone cosmetic Z-plasty performed by the senior author (A.N.L.) over a 9-year period. These patients either did not want or were not candidates for a face-lift or other procedure. Patients' charts were examined for demographic data, complications, and overall satisfaction with the procedure. In 46 of the 50 cases, the initial cosmetic result was acceptable to both the patient and the surgeon. The only complications were recurrent or residual areas of skin redundancy or dissatisfaction with the scar, but these were easily corrected with a second procedure using local anesthesia in the office setting. We conclude that cosmetic Z-plasty is a safe and effective means of correcting turkey neck deformity in patients who desire a procedure with a short operating time, a brief recovery period, a low complication rate, and a minimal effect on the overall appearance of their face. Although cosmetic Z-plasty is frequently considered to be antiquated, we believe refined versions of this procedure can still be of value to the plastic surgeon. In addition to describing our study results, we also describe in detail our surgical technique, including several contemporary refinements.


Redundant midline neck skin, sometimes known as a “turkey neck” deformity, represents a cosmetic problem for many older patients. Direct excision of the excess skin fold with Z-plasty closure, also known as anterior cervicoplasty or T-Z-plasty, was introduced in the 1970s by Cronin and Biggs.1-4 However, this procedure has fallen out of favor since the development of newer cosmetic procedures that result in only hidden scars, short scars and, in some cases, no scars at all.

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