Ask any skin expert about your neck and chest, and you’re bound to hear this timeless skin adage: “Your décolletage is an extension of your face.” However, we’re willing to bet that — like us — you don’t pay nearly as much attention to the skin below the collarbone as you do to the skin above it. That is, until your décolletage starts to show signs of aging. Because the skin there is particularly thin and delicate, it’s especially vulnerable: “Sun spots, redness, visible capillaries, crepey skin, and wrinkles can all crop up there,” says Anita Saluja, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Melbourne, Florida. However, you can fight back with a combination of in-office treatments and at-home fixes. These options can help get this thin skin looking firmer, smoother, and more evenly toned. Here, doctors share their top treatment recommendations for the décolletage.
As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
In-Office Décolletage Treatment #1: Fractional CO₂ Laser
You may have heard that lasers help renew skin, but with so many options out there, it’s tough figuring out which is best for the décolletage, specifically. “I recommend fractional CO₂ laser resurfacing as a first step to improve the appearance of wrinkling in the décolletage area,” advises Dr. Saluja. “Fractional CO₂ lasers create beams of heat — called the microthermal zone — in the skin that lead to collagen remodeling and formation.” The superficial layers of skin (the epidermis) will also be exfoliated by this treatment, improving discoloration in the area. Results are visible after one or more treatments — just be sure to pair it with a quality at-home regimen that includes mineral sunscreen to protect your newly-refreshed skin.
In-Office Décolletage Treatment #2: Radiofrequency Microneedling
Yes, you can bring this buzzy treatment down past your jawline. Professional microneedling yields impressive results — namely firmer skin, improved tone, and elastin production — when done by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon, especially when it’s paired with radiofrequency, an energy treatment that helps trigger collagen production. “Radiofrequency microneedling works by utilizing precise, surgical-grade microneedles to penetrate specific levels of the skin while also delivering customized energy to the superficial and deeper skin layers,” explains Frank Barone, MD, FACS, founder and medical director of evolv Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics℠ in Toledo, Ohio. “This controlled ‘micro-injury’ essentially jumpstarts the body’s natural healing and renewal process, and the simultaneously delivered radiofrequency energy at the needles’ tip enhances skin’s regeneration.” The result: A smoother, tauter, and clearer décolletage. Learn more about Vivace® RF, a form of radiofrequency microneedling, here.
In-Office Décolletage Treatment #3: Ultherapy®
Ultherapy is a form of ultrasound treatment that uses non-invasive, high-intensity ultrasonic waves to heat tissue under the skin’s surface. “Ulthera burns tiny holes underneath the skin that prompt the skin to regenerate, leading to a reduction in wrinkles,” explains Rebecca Baxt, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Paramus, New Jersey. It penetrates deeply into the skin to stimulate the formation of new collagen, thus firming and smoothing the décolletage. Because it can take time for your body to synthesize new collagen, be patient as you wait for results — which may take months to be apparent. “I always recommend getting it done, waiting six months, and then reassessing with your dermatologist if you need another treatment,” adds Dr. Baxt.
At-Home Décolletage Fix #1: Avoid the Sun
We all know that UV damage leads to lines, spots, and pigmentation, and because the skin on the décolletage is so thin, it’s particularly susceptible. “Avoid the sun as much as possible, and when outdoors, always use protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat, as well as SPF if the area is exposed,” says Dr. Baxt. She adds that layering on a vitamin C serum can help ward off free radicals, which can also cause damage. Try Sunday Riley® C.E.O.® 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum ($85), which not only contains a potent dose of the antioxidant, but also has glycolic acid, too, which helps gently exfoliate away dark spots.
At-Home Décolletage Fix #2: Use the Right Topicals
As we said earlier, your décolletage is an extension of your face — and treating it as such is one of the easiest things to do to keep it in tip-top shape, notes Gaurav Bharti, MD, FACS, board-certified plastic surgeon in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Often, this area is ignored,” he says. “Using gentle skin cleansers, retinols or retinoic acid cream at night, and dedicated neck firming agents like peptide creams during the day can help, especially in conjunction with other treatments such as microneedling and laser resurfacing.” Consult with your provider to see which treatments are best for you and your needs, but if you’re not sure where to start with your at-home regimen, check out a basic routine here.
Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.
At-Home Décolletage Fix #3: Change Up Your Sleep Position
It seems like every possible activity leaves skin susceptible to damage — and even how you sleep is on that list. “Side sleepers are more prone to lines and creasing in the décolletage area, so try sleeping on your back as much as possible,” warns Dr. Baxt. We understand that’s significantly easier said than done. If you can’t switch up a lifelong sleep habit, try slapping on a silicone chest patch like SiO® ChestLiftTM ($40 for two) before bed. The reusable medical-grade silicone clings snugly to the area, compressing it without folds or creases to help keep the area taut and smooth.
Dr. Gaurav Bharti is a paid Allergan® consultant.
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