Love Your Neck
Skin Rejuvenation For The Neck And Chest
By Judy Latta
Most of us obsess over our complexions, the most visible part of our bodies, and would never forget to pamper our faces with meticulously selected cleansers, exfoliators, sunscreens, toners and moisturizers. Why, then, do so many of us fail to devote the same attention to our necks and chests, also a sensitive and highly visible area of the body. Premature signs of aging can appear on the neck and chest due to care and lifestyle issues such as neglect, sun damage, harsh cleansers, excessive dead skin cells, dehydration, poor diet, smoking, repetitive motions and lack of exercise, as well as from uncontrollable factors such as heredity, gravity, environmental conditions and stress.
According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), caring for your neck area is one of the best ways to defy your age because it is a body part where signs of againg can develp quickly. “The skin there is thin and contains less supportive collagen compared to your face,” notes the Academy.
Common Signs of Aging on the Neck and Chest
Many different structural changes can occur in the neck and chest area as we age, such as the formation of fatty deposits under the chin, known as double chin; excess fat and skin droop in the lower face, known as jowls; loose skin; deep wrinkles across the neck; deep wrinkles down the chest, particularly in the cleavage area; and the protrusion of the vertical cords in our necks. The neck and chest can also undergo color and tone changes as we age, such as redness, dilated blood vessels, rough skin and brown spots from sun damage.
Additionally, according to the AAFPRS, current technology is also taking a toll on our neck and lower face in the form of a relatively new condition dubbed “tech neck.” Plastic surgeons and dermatologists have noted that patients are experiencing new wrinkles and sagging jowls specifically related to the repetitive motion of looking down at their smartphones. “With such thin skin on the neck, looking down at your phone constantly can cause collagen and elastin to break down and lead to deep wrinkles and sagging,” says Stephen S. Park, president of AAFPRS.
So how do you prevent premature aging under the collar? A good rule of thumb is that whatever skincare regimen you use for your face, you should also use for your neck and chest. The first step should always be a mild cleanser to remove dirt, grime and toxins, and to give you a fresh slate to work with. Most people use a specialized, mild cleanser for their faces, but use their regular body soap on their sensitive necks and chests. Next, a good moisturizer and occasional exfoliation will help the skin on your neck and chest to stay healthier, softer, firmer and clearer. Finally, as it is with your face, it is vitally important that you protect the skin on your neck and chest from the sun and elements. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from UVA and UVB rays is the best method for preventing premature aging of the face, neck and chest. If you can, stay out of the sun, particularly during midday, or if you have to go into the sun during peak times, cover your neck and chest areas to protect them when possible.
While healthy living, good skin care and prevention from overexposure to the sun are the best methods of protecting the skin on our neck and chest areas, most of us have not been as vigilant over the course of our lives as we should have been and are now facing the long-term effects of damaged skin. Fortunately, modern science has provided us with a range of options, both surgical and non-surgical, as well as prescription and non-prescription, for treating the aesthetic effects of aging. The following are some common treatments often recommended by dermatologists and/or cosmetic surgeons for necks and chests that are in need of refreshing.
Surgical Treatments: Necklifts, liposuction, chin augmentation, procedures to tighten neck muscles, and the removal of excess skin are all surgical solutions available to rejuvenate the aesthetics of the neck area. The most complete and long-lasting treatment is a lower rhytidectomy, also known as a neck lift, a surgical procedure that lifts and tightens the jawline and neck. It addresses problems such as double chin, jowls, loose neck skin, and deep wrinkles. According to the AAFPRS, “Upper Neck lifts and neck tightening procedures are becoming increasingly popular for women to get rid of telltale ‘turkey waddle’ ” (loose skin under the chin).
Laser skin resurfacing: Through laser resurfacing, skin imperfections such as wrinkles and age spots on the neck and chest are vaporized using pulsating beams of light. The laser beam removes the outer later of damaged skin, the epidermis, and stimulates the underlying layers to promote the growth of healthy skin cells and collagen fibers.
Injections: Technically known as botulinum toxin, botox is injected into particular areas of the neck and chest to paralyze wrinkle-producing muscles and nerves. The effects generally last about three months and then skin reverts to its previous form, requiring regular injections to maintain the benefits. Dermal fillers, or “wrinkle fillers” as they are often known, are substances that are injected into creases in the skin to plump-up the skin’s surface to reduce wrinkles. Fillers can be human fat from your own body, collagen or other natural or synthetic substances. Most dermal fillers work only temporarily, thus regular injections may be needed to maintain the benefits.
Microdermabrasion: This method of skin refinishing exfoliates, or scrapes away, the top damaged layers of skin on the chest.
Peels: Also called derma peeling, this is a solution that is applied to your chest to remove the damaged layer of skin. Chemicals and other solutions are used in different combinations and dosages to create light, medium or deep treatments depending upon your needs.
Prescription treatments: Two common topical cream treatments for damaged skin that are available only with a prescription are Hydroquinone and Tretinoin. Hydroquinone is used to fade over-pigmented skin and improve clarity. Tretinoin increases collagen production to reduce wrinkles and discoloration.
Non-prescription treatments: A wide range of over-the-counter remedies are available for treating the skin on the neck and chest. Some common ones are Retinol for stimulating the generation of new skin cells, Alpha Hydroxin Acid for removing dead skin cells and Alpha-Arbutin for skin lightening.
Natural remedies: Some homeopathic remedies such as soy and coconut oil can help soften and smooth skin, and some herbs such as red clover are believed to work as cleansing agents for detoxifying the skin after sun exposure.
For information on these and other possible solutions to improve signs of aging on your neck and chest, make an appointment with your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon.