[By Julian Chong]
No one wants to be saddled with a turkey neck but the truth is that as we age, we tend to focus our TLC on our faces, leaving our necks to face the brunt of the aging process. Is it no wonder that by the time we hit our mid forties, many of us are hiding our necks in scarves and other fabricated deceptions?
I cannot help but feel sorry for our avian friends. Besides having the largely unappreciative job of providing poultry as a major food source for us homo- sapiens, they often have it bad when we decide to put their names to descriptive use. Let’s see… There’s the insulting term ‘pigeon brain’ referring to someone that’s dim witted, and ‘cock eyes’ for someone who had missed seeing something obvious. What about ‘chicken legs’? That’s a derogatory gym term used by workout guys to describe limbs belonging to the aspiring fellow bodybuilder who huffs and puffs in the gym with his disproportionately huge torso balancing on under-developed calves. But in my opinion, nothing takes the cake away from the most unflattering term, ‘turkey neck’. A horrible and nasty comparison, isn’t it? But let’s face it; it’s nonetheless a fitting way to describe the texture and look of a neck that shows all the signs of aging. Likened to the wattle of our Thanksgiving friend, a ‘turkey neck’ describes one that has loose, wobbly and sagging skin; marked with lines from left to right and a skin texture that is like crêpe paper; perhaps rough and dry to the touch as well. Shudder.
It has not been said often enough: In most men and women alike, it’s the neck and not the face that gives away a person’s age. Granted that the neck area might be more prone to exhibit signs of aging, the answer might simply be the fact that many people forget to take care of it! So let’s consider a few key do’s and don’ts for treating your neck right.
#1 PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
Do heed the old adage ‘Prevention Is Better Than Cure’. Before you start blaming your genes, take note that 80% of how your neck ages is a result of your skin care habits. Good sunscreen is the cheapest and most effective thing you can do for your skin but many people stop applying it somewhere around the jaw line. The neck is an equally vulnerable area so to age-proof yourself, no exposed skin should be left unprotected! Wearing that low cut neckline in the daytime means slathering on more sunscreen before you step out the door. That little extra time and product is a very worthwhile investment in the long run.
#2 FACE THE MUSIC
Do start using skin care products you already own for your face on your neck. Whenever you apply your serums and moisturizers to your face, do remember to dab them on the neck. A retinol product, or a retinoid like Retin-A or Differin has powerful wrinkle-fighting ingredients that your neck will love just as much as your face. The skin on your neck is particularly delicate, though, so you might find you can only use retinoids two or three times a week without irritation. A gentle preparation which I found suitable for nightly use on the neck is Age Defy available from sloaneshop.com. Containing 0.01% tretinoin, Age Defy works well for me as one cream that can hydrate, tone, lift and firm at the same time!
#3 BOOST COLLAGEN STORES
Do start using products with ingredients that can help generate new collagen and elastin, thus restoring some of the neck’s elasticity. Topical vitamin C and hyaluronic acid has both been shown to boost collagen production. The Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate from Kiehl’s is touted as being able to have 10.5% of continuous delivery of pure vitamin C. Another favorite product of mine is the Miracle Lift from The Sloane Shop. Besides sodium hyaluronate, the newly upgraded formulation now boasts added niacinamide or vitamin B3 for extra skin firming and age defying actions.
#4 BOTOX LIFT
Don’t change to a wardrobe that consists of only scarves and turtleneck sweaters and Don’t assume that there’s nothing to be done about neck sagging once it starts. Recent medical advances have brought forth a growing number of treatments that quickly and effectively improve the neck’s appearance.
Do you know that besides being used to treat forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet, (yet another’ bad birdy’ term!) Botox, can be injected into neck muscles to relax them and minimize the appearance of the neck folds and vertical bands that become more prominent with age? This procedure sometimes goes by the very elegant name of ‘Nefertiti Lift’. “The neck is a delicate area and treating it with Botulinium Toxin is an advanced injecting technique that require a good knowledge of the anatomy.” Says Dr. Chua Han Boon of The Sloane Clinic. “Skillful placement and dosage selection are both equally crucial for optimum results.”
If you have advanced ‘turkey neck’ and the whole neck is wattled and droops, non- surgical modalities such as Thermage and Ulthera might be able to buy you some time before you decide to go under the knife (for a necklift, not to slit your throat). Thermage is a radiofrequency therapy that tightens skin by stimulating collagen remodeling and regeneration while Ulthera employs selective miconized ultrasound therapy to cause deep tissue lifting to correct the saggy and wobbly skin. Results for both treatments are most evident 3 to 6 months post treatment.
For an instant and dramatic lift of the neck area, one can consider neck threadlift, a more recent innovative technique. It is gaining popularity for utilising 100% bio-dissolvable threads inserted into the skin through tiny injection holes that can boost collagen stimulation in addition to providing a strong anchor for a well-defined lift.
#5 SMOOTHEN OUT
Do remember that the texture and pigmentation of your neck contribute to its youthful or aged appearance as much as the sagginess of the skin. Tapping on the expertise of Dr. Chua Han Boon of The Sloane Clinic, I was informed that the Fraxel Restore laser is one of his favorite treatments for zapping unsightly sun spots and smoothing the fine lines on the neck. “This is a procedure with minimal downtime and can be performed as effectively on darker Asian skin tone.” He explained. “3 to 6 sessions of regular treatment might help to transform your ‘turkey neck’ to a ‘swan neck’!”