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Tighten Up: Turkey Neck

By Beth Landman
Posted On Jul 22, 2014

Putting Your Neck on the Line

A sagging neckline is one of the most glaring indicators of advancing age. Reclaim your grace with new and noteworthy neck-tightening treatments. 

BY Beth Landman PHOTOGRAPH by ACP/Trunk Archive

When the hostess at a recent charity function in Washington, DC, made her grand entrance, she was met by a sea of admiring glances. A black sheath clung to her well-toned body, and she needed only the subtlest of makeup to accentuate her youthful skin and fine facial features. Though she was 50 years old, she could have easily passed for a woman 10 years younger. But when she turned her head to greet one of the evening’s chairpeople, the years rapidly caught up with her, as the once-sharp angle of her jawline appeared to be fading into her chin, and below. She could not hide the truth.

“The neck is the first giveaway of aging—even before the eyes,” says Dr. Miles Graivier, a plastic surgeon based in the Atlanta metro region. “When people start to look for signs in the mirror, the neck is where they first focus.”

A range of issues can affect the appearance of one’s neck, largely depending upon a person’s age and weight. A combination of fat, muscle weakening, skin laxity, and sun damage can wreak havoc on a once-elegant and angular jawline and neck. Even bone loss and the shortening of the cervical spine that accompanies the aging process add to wrinkling in the area. Thankfully, there are as many possible solutions as there are problems.

Neck issues can begin sooner than one might think. People in their twenties and thirties often have skin that could use a little firming and jaws that could stand a bit of strengthening. A host of non-invasive options can vastly improve the appearance of younger “turkey necks.”

Machines that target collagen bundles in the dermis with heat, for example, not only cause an immediate tightening of the skin, but signal the body to produce more collagen over a period of months, making the skin appear younger.

Because these treatments bypass the skin’s outer layer, there is no obvious redness or swelling, and no downtime. Among the most popular machines are Exilis (which uses radio frequency to produce heat, and costs between $2,000 and $3,000 for a series of several treatments) and Ulthera (which uses ultrasound and costs between $3,000 and $4,000).

While Ulthera is the strongest in the current artillery, and takes only one session, it can be painful due to the heat sensation that can build up over the course of the treatment. “This is the third generation of Ulthera, and while it’s not completely pain-free, it’s definitely the most effective and considered the standard now,” says Manhattan dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank.