Plastic surgery procedures for neck rejuvenation pose risks to the patient. Doctors examine a new alternative called percutaneous radiofrequency ablation.
The formation of horizontal lines and wrinkles and the loss of definition of the jaw lines are a result of the process of aging and age-related laxity over the platysmal bands, which are muscles of the neck. Techniques used in improving the appearance of the aging neck (neck rejuvenation) have evolved over time with plastic surgery and injection with Botox being the most common. However, these methods have risks and side effects including scarring and complications such as parotid gland injury (associated with plastic surgery) as well as dysphagia and anterior neck weakening (associated with Botox injections).
Researchers from the Mount Sinai Medical Center recently investigated an alternative to plastic surgery and neurotoxin injection. The results of the study were recently published in Dermatologic Surgery. The authors proposed the use of monopolar radiofrequency (RF), a minimally invasive method to treat platysmal banding.
In this study, 19 patients (men and women) who met the criteria for inclusion were enrolled from two sites. Platysmal banding was evaluated at screening and before treatment and was documented as mild, moderate, or severe, based on the vertical length, prominence, and width of the bands. The patients then underwent percutaneous selective RF ablation of the cervical branch of the facial nerve and were assessed immediately after treatment and again at one, four, 12, and 24 weeks. Researchers determined whether the patients were either significantly improved, slightly improved, had no change, were slightly worse, or significantly worse.
Of the 19 patients enrolled, 18 completed the study. After 24 weeks of follow-up, improvement of platysmal banding was observed in 17 patients, with 13 having slight improvement and 4 showing significant improvement. The decrease in treatment efficacy was not seen in any patient between weeks one and 24. Self-evaluation by patients at week 24 showed that 28% of patients had no visible change, 39% showed slight improvement, 22% had moderate improvement, and 11% marked improvement.
The results of this study show that RF ablation of the cervical branch of the facial nerve leads to improvement of platysmal banding, and as such can be used as a nonsurgical option for neck rejuvenation. Despite these promising findings, a longer follow-up period of up to 12 months or more would be better in comparing this technique with other neck rejuvenation methods in order to fully evaluate its longevity.
Written by Asongna T. Folefoc
Reference: Rivlin D, Skinner DR, Steinmetz-Rodriguez CY, Fabrikant JS, Stoddard MA, So JJ, Solomon SJ and Moy RL. Novel Modality for Neck Rejuvenation: A Prospective Multicenter Trial of Percutaneous Radiofrequency Ablation of the Cervical Branch of the Facial Nerve. Dermatol Surg 2017;0:1–9 DOI: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000001275