So, you’re between 35 and 50. Your neck doesn’t look quite bad enough for surgery, and you don’t have the downtime anyway.
So what can you do?
There are multiple products designed for use on the neck, and with consistent use they will definitely make a difference. Physician skin care products are obviously better for prevention than treatment of existing issues, but the collagen boost from 0.025% Retin-A, sunscreen, and moisturizers will make everyone’s skin more plump and smooth. However, if you are already treating your skin well, there are some minimally invasive procedures that can make an even bigger difference.
Not only is nearly 80% of aging related to sun exposure, skin discolorations caused by sun damage are actually the leading indication of our age to others. Evening out skin tone and texture can take up to 10 years off your appearance. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) minimizes dark discoloration and smooths out skin texture. It’s non-ablative, which means it won’t lead to blisters or scabs, and you can cover your skin with makeup right away. IPL treatments can be done every 6 weeks. Some patients will need 1 treatment and some will need up to 3 depending on existing sun damage. IPL needs to be repeated every year or two to maintain the effect, but this depends on sun exposure and development of new pigmentation. Keep in mind however these types of treatments are aimed primarily at improving texture rather than fullness or severe laxity.
If your concern is more that your profile looks a little less sharp than it used to be in selfies, the culprit could be extra fat under your chin and jawline that begins to sag with age. Kybella is an injectable product that uses a naturally occurring enzyme to break down fat. Injections are done 6-8 weeks apart and after 1-2 weeks of swelling, the results start to become visible. Most patients will need 2-4 treatments to get to the result they want, and costs range from $2000 to 4000 depending on the number of treatments needed. Injections create soreness that is tolerable for most patients without any medication, and that completely resolves in 2-4 weeks.
For some patients, banding (also called turkey or lizard neck) is more of a concern than excess fat. As a first line of defense Botox can be injected into the skin and superficial muscle of the neck to decrease skin wrinkling and muscle bands under the chin. For some patients with strong frown muscle action, it can even subtly improve the jawline near the jowls. Treatments are done every 3-5 months and cost around $300. While Botox and IPL are a great combination for improving even moderate laxity, there are options, which can give you the ultimate in non-surgical treatment options.
Ulthera is a no downtime (no incisions or time off work) ultrasound based treatment that stimulates collagen formation. Within 4-6 months after treatment, the skin and deeper tissues tighten, which reduces sag and looseness. 80% of patients are happy after one treatment, which has no visible downtime and involves minor soreness to touch for 1-3 days after treatment. It can be done yearly for maintenance once every 1-3 years. The device is FDA approved for lifting brows, improving jowls, and tightening the neck, and chest.
So which option is best? It’s really all about your area of concern, budget and desired results. I’ve personally had all of these treatments, and I’ve been very happy with my results. I‘m a firm believer in doing everything I can to prolong or even possibly avoid the need for surgery later in life.