Faces get all the anti-aging attention, but our thin-skinned necks usually start to slack off first. Here, the latest (and best) ways to treat this often-neglected area.
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SOS for Droopiness
If it’s excess skin: Go for a skin-tightening treatment, such as Ultherapy or Thermage, that uses ultrasound or radio frequency technology to heat and injure skin, triggering a wound response that boosts collagen production. Over time (two to six months) this increase in collagen should result in firmer skin. Results for 30- or 40-somethings typically last a few years. Average cost: $2,725.
Or doctors can inject hyaluronic acid fillers (such as Restylane or Voluma) along the jawbone to pull slack skin taut, says Neal Schultz, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. It’s as if you’re refilling a saggy balloon. “You can also inject a neurotoxin like Xeomin, Botox, or Dysport into the neck to help relax the platysmal bands, which run from jaw to clavicle and can tug down on the skin,” says Jeremy Brauer, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Average cost: $500 to $1,500, depending on the amount used.
If it’s stubborn fat: Doctors may employ a targeted fat-dissolving technique, like Kybella or Coolscupting. The first is a synthetic form of bile acid that breaks down the fat that’s making your skin look slack (the dissolved fat is eliminated in urine). It’s injected (typically 20 to 50 pricks), and most patients require two or three treatments spaced six to eight weeks apart. You’ll see initial results about a week after your first treatment, once swelling subsides. Average cost: $1,375.
CoolSculpting gets rid of fat cells by freezing them. (The lymphatic system disposes of the frozen fat cells.) To target the chin area, Dr. Idriss uses the CoolSculpting Mini, a handheld vacuum-like device. Expect two to three treatments spaced about eight weeks apart. Price: about $1,225. (Read about how one writer felt throughout the CoolSculpting process.)
Treatments for Uneven Tone
The sides of the neck are most likely your problem areas because they’re regularly exposed to UV rays, Dr. Idriss says. Mottled skin here is typically red or brown and is best treated with light therapy or pigment-targeting lasers. “Try IPL [intense pulsed light] first because it’s the least painful and has minimal downtime. If the color isn’t fading enough, then upgrade to a pulsed dye laser,” Dr. Idriss says. Both target—and thus erase—red (hemoglobin) or brown (melanin) color. You may need a few treatments at around $475 each. If you have dark skin, apply a topical brightener like hydroquinone or kojic acid first, then consider treatment with a fractional resurfacing laser, which is more targeted than IPL. (Read more about treatments that can even out your skin tone.)
Help for Wrinkles
Neck lines can appear horizontally or vertically, Dr. Idriss says. The side-to-side, tree-ring-like lines “are much more prominent these days because we crease our necks looking down at our phones for so many hours,” she explains. It’s called tech neck, and your derm can iron it out with a nonablative resurfacing laser. “I like to use Fraxel on neck lines because it boosts collagen production, tightening and smoothing the skin,” Dr. Schultz says. Dr. Idriss says she has seen some success with skin-tightening therapies like Ultherapy. “It’s like tightening a loose, draping dress; everything gets smoother,” she explains. (These yoga poses can also counteract tech neck.)
As for the vertical bands, they, like slack skin, “can be caused by a pulling of the platysma muscle,” Dr. Schultz says. “A neuromodulator like Botox will relax that pull and soften those bands.”