Sun exposure, weight gain, and genetics often cause our necks to change as we age. Wrinkles start to appear as the skin becomes loose, fat accumulates under the chin, and vertical neck bands form from the contraction of muscles. The term ”turkey neck” refers to these changes in appearance, and it’s about as attractive as it sounds.
Surgery has traditionally been the only option to rejuvenate the neck, but some non-invasive treatment options are now available to treat these signs of aging.
Topical products or serums that contain growth factors help repair and rebuild the skin’s integrity. Application of growth factors once or twice daily will replenishing the skin with key peptides, antioxidants, and vitamins leading to healthier and more vibrant looking skin. Sunscreen daily is also recommended for preventing sun damage and premature aging of the neck.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
IPL is a light-based device used to improve the texture, tone, and color of skin on the neck. Treatments take approximately 30 minutes and are repeated at 4 week intervals. A minimum of 3 treatments is usually required to see results. Side effects can include slight redness, darkening of brown spots for a few days, and some irritation.
Botox is an effective way to treat early muscular changes in the neck. Botox softens tight platysmal bands that appear under the chin and extend vertically down the neck, making it appear more full. Injections are typically recommended 3 or 4 times per year and take about 10 minutes to perform. There is no downtime for this treatment. Side effects may include redness, tenderness, or bruising.
Laser resurfacing is ideal for neck skin that is very wrinkled from long term sun exposure and aging. It uses an intense beam of light energy to ablate, or wound, thin layers of skin. As the resurfaced area heals, new skin forms that’s smoother and tighter. A topical numbing cream may be applied before the treatment. If the resurfacing is extensive then sedation may be required. The depth of the resurfacing will affect recovery, which may be as long as 10-14 days.
There are a few non surgical options for treating the neck. If mild skin laxity is the concern, there are a hand full of devices that target aging of the lower face and neck. These devices use either radiofrequency, ultrasound, or infrared energy to heat the dermal layer of skin. The goal of heating the dermis is to stimulate the production of new collagen, which ultimately improves laxity. These treatments can be expensive and uncomfortable, but ideal for someone not open to surgery. They also offer no downtime.
For moderate to severe neck skin laxity, surgery and removal of skin is the best choice. During a surgical lower face and neck lift, the muscles of the lower face and neck are tightened and the skin is redraped and sutured in place. The recovery time for a lower face and neck lift is typically 2 weeks.
Hopefully this overview helps you avoid the dreaded turkey neck. Be sure to consult your skin care provider to discuss customized treatment options.