The cleavage and neckline skin, also called the décolletage has been the hallmark of youthful feminine beauty, sensuality and sexuality throughout history. Why then is the cleavage and neckline skin the most neglected when it comes to anti-aging skin care?
Lack of awareness I believe. We are used to carefully studying our face when we look in the mirror, but we don’t see our cleavage or neckline skin in the mirror. Yet, the cleavage and neck skin is the most common indicator of aging skin in my plastic surgery practice.
Why Does the Cleavage and Neckline Age so Quickly?
o Sun Exposure– because the chest area is slanted out away from our face, the sun’s rays strike the chest directly. The chest skin burns often before the face when you are out in the sun. We are also more likely to spend more time applying sun block to our faces, arms and legs than to the chest area. Sun damage causes brown spots, red spots and blood vessels, and wrinkles on our skin. Since the cleavage and neckline get more sun, skin aging changes are accelerated.
o Thin Skin– Our skin on the neckline, chest and cleavage is much thinner than the skin on our back, arms and legs. Thin skin is more susceptible to sun damage and aging changes because the sun can penetrate deeper into the vulnerable dermis, the deep skin layer where aging changes are most striking.
How Can We Remove Brown Spots, Blood vessels and Wrinkles from the Cleavage and Neckline or Décolletage?
o Intense Pulsed Light-IPL-Photo Facial-Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), also called Photo Facial is a miracle treatment for aging changes of the cleavage and neckline. IPL is not a laser. IPL uses a flash of visible light which is of an appropriate color to specifically target brown pigment and blood vessels in the skin. When the IPL light hits the brown pigment or blood vessel, the heat from the light energy breaks up the pigment or closes the blood vessel. The full effect of the IPL on the brown spots or blood vessels takes about five weeks. Usually three IPL treatments scheduled 5 weeks apart are required for complete removal of the brown spots and blood vessels. Results are usually spectacular. An aged sun damaged cleavage and neckline can be restored to a blemish free younger look. I don’t know why more people do not have these IPL treatments.
o Retin A Topical Skin Care– Retin A is the only topical skin care product that has been proven to prevent and reverse aging skin changes and sun damage. Why then is everyone not using Retin A? I assume because Retin A is expensive and requires a prescription. But most people spend huge amounts of over the counter anti-aging skin creams that simply do not work and have no scientific proof of effectiveness. Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons know the remarkable benefits of Retin A, that’s why they prescribe it. Use Retin A on your face, neck, and chest. The chest area needs the Retin A as much or more than your face.
o Microdermabrasion-Microdermabrasion is the best, most effective form of deep exfoliation. Exfoliation removes dead and sun damaged skin cells from the surface of your skin. After the dead and damaged skin cells are removed the younger newer skin cells are revealed and your skin looks fresher and younger because the younger skin cells are visible. Microdermabrasion also stimulates the skin to grow new fresh cells. Microdermabrasion is also slightly irritating to the deeper skin dermis. This slight irritation stimulates the dermis to make new collagen to replace the collagen that has been lost from sun damage and skin aging. After microdermabrasion removes dead and damaged skin cells from the skin surface, Retin A, Vitamin C Serum and other topical skin care agents are absorbed more readily from the skin surface. Better absorption and penetration of these topical agents improves their performance. I strongly recommend that my patients have microdermabrasion of the neck and chest area when they have a facial microdermabrasion.
Lasers Are Too Strong for the Chest Area– Laser resurfacing goes too deep to be used on the chest area. As I mentioned earlier the skin of the chest and Décolletage is very thin. After laser resurfacing, healing occurs from cells in what are called skin appendages. Skin appendages are the hair follicles, sweat glands, and oil glands in the skin. The chest area in women has very few skin appendages and is quite thin, thus there is very little potential for healing of the chest area after laser resurfacing. The same is true with the hands and to a lesser degree the neck. New, more modern fractional laser resurfacing is more gentle, produces less skin damage and Erbium fractional laser resurfacing may be used cautiously on the neck. I am not comfortable yet using any laser on the chest. The IPL works beautifully on the chest, so in my opinion there is no need to take the risk of using the laser on the chest area.
How To Prevent Aging of the Chest and Neck
o Sun block-Be sure to put sun block on your chest and neck when you put it on your face. Re-apply every hour when in the hot sun.
o Sun Avoidance– From 11 o’clock to 4 o’clock wear a cover over your chest if in the sun. Better yet, go into a shady area during these hours when the sun is strongest. Wear a wide brimmed hat which shades your face and chest when in the sun. It protects you and is more of a fashion statement than your baseball hat.
o Never Use A Sun Reflector-the shiny aluminum foil on cardboard sun reflectors that people use to tan their face, can fry your chest. Never use them.
o Avoid tanning Booths-If you haven’t gotten the message about tanning booths pay attention. I don’t care what wavelength they use, UVB, UVA- both UV rays cause aging changes in the skin and I believe they can cause skin cancer. If you have to go to a tanning booth please wear a strong sun block. Sun block prevents a sunburn-you can still tan, it just takes 5-7 days to see the tan. All the color you see immediately after tanning is just a burn and your skin is damaged and aging changes will occur. You won’t see brown spots, blood vessels, and wrinkles when you get out of the tanning booth, but I promise you they will come, certainly after a few years.
Your décolletage and neck are an important often neglected part of your appearance. Skin aging changes occur more rapidly here than anyplace else on your body. If you are not worried about appearance then worry about skin cancer which is very common on the chest area as we age. Learn more about how to protect and preserve your neck and chest skin.