How To Erase Chest Wrinkles - Top Treatments for Smoother Cleavage
JulesBernstein on 17 Sep 2013 at 9:00am
We’d all love a bit of insight from these red-carpet regulars on how to vanquish chest wrinkles -- especially as this area is seen in low-cut dresses. Chest wrinkles can be an early sign of aging skin – thanks to sunscreen-free summers and the fact that the skin becomes thin, dry and loses collagen as we age.
With that in mind, we checked in with two plastic surgeons - Dr. J. Timothy Katzen in Beverly Hills, CA and Dr. Remus Repta in Scottsdale, AZ - for the most advanced ways to recapture a once-smooth décolletage. Here’s what they recommended:
Some physicians prefer CO2 laser for skin smoothing
Dr. Repta favors the CO2 laser for it’s flexibility. He explains that all skin - including the skin on your chest - has layers, and the CO2 can treat skin issues on each specific layer. “The CO2 laser gives you more control than a chemical peel -- it will take care of all the superficial-level issues; fine lines, broken capillaries and pigment issues. The CO2 laser can also address the medium layer, called the dermis. When you go deeper, the laser can actually stimulate collagen production in the skin itself. I can vary it based on what the skin needs and how much downtime the person wants," he says.
While others like the Nd:YAG laser for chest wrinkles
Dr. Katzen agrees that laser is better than a chemical peel for the chest -- but prefers the Nd:YAG, as it falls in between the CO2 and Cooltouch lasers in terms of aggressiveness to the skin. "In the chest area, I’d go conservative and do up to three treatments with the ND:YAG laser,” he says.
All that said, Dr. Repta cautions that lasers aren’t for everyone: treatment recommendations do vary by ethnicity. For skin resurfacing, you have to take into account the Fitzpatrick Skin Type - which grades the skin on its ability to tan.
The grades range from grade 1: people who have no melanocytes (the cells that create pigment) to grade 6: people who always have dark skin. The idea is that Fitzpatrick grades 1 and 2 (and some 3’s) can safely have resurfacing done without stimulating their melanocytes - which can cause undesirable discoloration.
The deeper 3’s, 4, 5 and 6 level patients are at risk, Dr. Repta says, for creating pigment issues if you resurface them aggressively. So, those patients have to have a test spot worked on to see if they're viable candidates -- and if they don't qualify, he reccomends Ulthera or fat grafting. "You can easily make the wrinkles better, but then you can create pigment issues, making it worse."
Ultrasound is also an option
For wrinkling in the deepest layers of the chest skin, Dr. Repta likes Ulthera (also called Ultherapy), an ultrasound-based treatment.
"Essentially, what the CO2 laser does to the top layer of the skin, Ulthera does to the deep layer of the tissues. The doctor uses a wand to apply ultrasound waves to the skin, and the waves penetrate the deepest layers of skin, where collagen growth is stimulated," he says.
But, before you sign up for Ulthera, do know that some Ulthera patients have reported the procedure is painful. And, like some of the other treatments for stopping chest wrinkles it is costly - starting at an average of $2,000 or more.
Or, micro fat grafting may be the way to go
Another treatment Dr. Repta uses for the deeper layers is fat grafting. Volume loss happens at the medium and deep layers of the chest skin, and this is one way to 're-fill' and plump the skin. Fat grafting is also a useful technique for the face. In this procedure, fat is removed from other areas of your body, possibly your abdomen, hips or thighs. It undergoes a special preparation process, and is then injected where you need it most.
Fat grafting can be done under anesthesia or sedation if you choose to do it that way, and could cost between $2 - 5,000, depending on the size of the area to be treated. A last consideration is to make sure that your doctor is experienced with micro fat grafting. Over-filling can leave an irregular or “bumpy” appearance.
That said, there's always the “Vampire Facelift”...
Dr. Katzen favors a treatment specifically for the upper chest and neck areas that is relatively new ... with a relatively scary nickname. Platelet rich plasma (a.k.a. PRP) is called the "Vampire Facelift" because it involves taking a patient's blood -- and spinning it until the natural growth factors in the blood, which are used to heal injuries, are isolated.
Then, those growth factors are injected back into the face and chest. Dr. Katzen says the growth factors help tighten and smooth skin that's beginning to take on a "crepey" aging texture.
It’s gotten a lot of positive early reviews, and doctors estimate the effects can last as long as 18 months. But, even though you're using your own blood as a "fix" for your wrinkles, it definitely isn't a free treatment. It costs an average of $1,000.
Or, neck lift surgery
For the most permanent solution, Dr. Katzen recommends the neck lift. Although, he does like to save this as a last stop for severe wrinkling. With a neck lift, an incision is made near the ear or back of the neck, and the skin is then pulled tight. The hope is that this will also tighten the chest skin and improve the look of the décolletage, as there isn’t really an effective way to surgically lift the chest.
And, one final thought...
Though all of these treatments offer a degree of improvement that wasn't available in years past, Dr. Repta reminds us that there is no "magic bullet" treatment for the chest. These treatments may certainly help, but none of them will make you 16 again.
In addition, you should know that it's likely that you'll have to do several rounds of these procedures to maintain your desired result. There isn't a 'once-and-you're-done-forever' type of treatment for chest wrinkles (with the exception of surgery).
Last, prevention is key to prolonging the need for any sort of anti-aging procedure. No matter how promising any of these look, both physicians strongly recommend you apply (and reapply) sunblock to stave off the doctor's office for as long as possible.