We all want to know how red-carpet regulars vanquish chest wrinkles and smooth their cleavage. Chest wrinkles are often one of the first signs of aging, thanks to not applying enough sunscreen in that area. Neck and chest skin is especially susceptible to damage because it is also thinner and drier and loses more collagen as we get older.
We asked Dr. J. Timothy Katzen, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon, and Dr. Remus Repta, a Scottsdale, Arizona, plastic surgeon, for the most advanced ways to recapture a once-smooth décolletage. Here’s what they recommended to smooth your chest and cleavage.
Dr. Repta favors the CO2 laser for its flexibility. He explains that all skin, including the skin on your chest, has layers, and the CO2 laser can treat skin issues on each specific layer.
“The CO2 laser gives you more control than a chemical peel,” says Dr. Repta. “It will take care of all the superficial-level issues, like fine lines, broken capillaries and pigment issues.”
“The CO2 laser can also address the medium layer, called the dermis,” he continues. “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.”
According to prices reported by people on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $2,700 on the CO2 laser.
Dr. Katzen agrees that lasers are better than chemical peels for the chest, but he prefers the Nd:YAG laser. This laser 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,” says Dr. Katzen.
Dr. Repta cautions that lasers aren’t for everyone because treatment recommendations vary by ethnicity. For skin resurfacing, you have to take into account the Fitzpatrick skin type, which classifies skin tones based on how they respond to UV light.
The grades range from one, people who have no melanocytes (the cells that create pigment), to six, people who always have dark skin. Fitzpatrick grades one and two, and some three’s, can safely have resurfacing done without stimulating their melanocytes, which can cause undesirable discoloration.
“The deeper three, four, five, and six-level patients are at risk for creating pigment issues if you resurface them aggressively,” says Dr. Repta. Patients should have a test spot worked on to see if they’re viable candidates. “You can easily make the wrinkles better, but then you can create pigment issues, making it worse.”
According to prices reported by people on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $775 on the Nd:YAG laser.
If patients don’t qualify for lasers, Dr. Repta recommends Ultherapy, an ultrasound treatment to stimulate collagen production.
“Essentially, what the CO2 laser does to the top layer of the skin, Ultherapy does to the deep layer of tissue,” says Dr. Repta. “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.”
Before you sign up for Ultherapy, note that some patients have found it particularly painful.
“I was not prepared for the extreme pain during the procedure,” said one reviewer on RealSelf user. “The doctor gave me a few injections of lidocaine and OTC Tylenol and ibuprofen tablets. While the medications did numb the areas of my face and neck for a while, they absolutely did nothing to alleviate the pain during the procedure. In fact, the procedure was so painful that I considered not completing it at all.”
According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $2,700 on Ultherapy.
Another treatment Dr. Repta uses for the deeper layers of skin is fat grafting to address volume loss and plump the skin. Fat is removed from other areas of your body, usually your abdomen, hips or thighs, and undergoes a special preparation process before it is injected where you need it most.
Doctors caution to make sure that your medical provider is experienced with micro fat grafting. Over-filling can leave an irregular or bumpy appearance.
According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $5,350 on fat grafting.
Dr. Katzen favors a treatment called the vampire facelift. This procedure involves taking a patient’s blood and spinning it until the blood’s natural growth factors used to heal injuries are isolated. This platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, is then 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 can last up to 18 months.
“I was satisfied with my look after the procedure, but was dazzled by my look after one to two months,” says this RealSelf reviewer. “PRP just gets better the more time it has. I constantly get asked what I’m doing for my skin, or if I’m pregnant again.”
According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $1,100 on a vampire facelift.
For a more permanent solution, Dr. Katzen recommends a neck lift, though he does save this as a last resort 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 an effective way to surgically lift the chest.
According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $8,500 on a neck lift.
Other things to consider
While these treatments can improve chest wrinkles, Dr. Repta says that there is no one magic fix for the chest. It’s also likely that you’ll have to do several treatment rounds to maintain your desired result. For chest wrinkles, there is no such thing as a “one-and-done” treatment.
Prevention is key to prolonging the need for any anti-aging procedure. No matter how promising any of these treatments for chest wrinkles look, doctors strongly recommend you apply and reapply sunscreen to stave off the surgeon’s office for as long as possible.
Ready to learn more? Contact an expert near you.