How do I save my saggy neck?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
There’s more to sagging neck and jowls than just ageing. Factors such as hereditary collagen depletion, UV damage, alcohol, smoking, weakened muscles and weight fluctuations all play a role. As a facialist, I am amazed at how little my clients know about the fragility of their skin, but also by how much they can do to combat sag.
Our face and neck contain around 68 muscles. Around them lie two types of fat pads: superficial fat pads sit above the muscles and under the skin, while deep fat pads lie closer to the bone. With time, the breakdown of collagen combined with the pull of gravity can be a drag. Pun intended.
While genes may follow their own ageing path, we can still make changes to strengthen and renew the network — such as year-long sun protection and incorporating smart devices into a weekly skincare routine. Stimulating the collagen network is vital to supporting the intricate intramuscular fat scaffolding.
Take the FAQ 103 Diamond, a handheld device with a multipronged approach. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) with low faradic current stimulates nerve endings, causing muscles to contract and relax, like a gym workout. Radiofrequency (RF) delivers heat to tighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. Light-emitting diode (LED) technology rounds off the effect.
I have long relied on non-invasive RF in my professional treatments for “time-release” rejuvenation. Collagen synthesis and remodelling doesn’t happen overnight; new collagen growth can take anywhere from four to 12 weeks, so you have to maintain a regular routine. For those willing to invest long-term, I like CurrentBody Skin RF, which reaches the optimal temperature of 43ºC.
In-clinic RF can offer faster and more lasting results. “We can go deeper with control-depth microneedling that delivers radiofrequency,” says Munich-based dermatologist Dr Timm Golueke, founder of Royal Fern skincare. “The new Double Tite device also administers hyaluronic acid or platelet-rich plasma. This activates the fibroblasts to produce more collagen over time.” Two treatments four weeks apart are recommended once per year. For between-treatment maintenance, I’d recommend retinol: the vitamin A derivative has long been considered a collagen- and elastin-boosting hero. Royal Fern’s Retinol Solution includes glycolic acid. Start using it one to two times per week, then increase when your skin has built up tolerance. I also rate TempSure Envi, available at Dr Joney De Souza’s namesake Marylebone clinic, which treats wrinkles and fine lines and improves skin texture.
For those suffering from advanced skin laxity and drooping, the injectable dermal filler Sculptra may help. Different from the traditional hyaluronic acid fillers, it uses the powder-like poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) to increase the body’s collagen production and reduce deep-set wrinkles. Dr Somji, an aesthetic doctor at DrMediSpa, says when it comes to necks and jawlines, PLLA is better than standard fillers. “While the upper face requires added volume, the lower face and neck needs contraction (tightening), which makes Sculptra a better choice.” Dr Somji’s rule of thumb is one vial for each decade of life per session, with two or three sessions spaced a month apart. Results last around two years.
My at-home skin tightening tip is to roll a 0.5mm-depth microneedling device like Trinny London’s Plump Up tool over skin once a week. Microneedling kick-starts the skin into a wound-healing response, which triggers collagen renewal. Couple with a layer of Nécessaire The Neck Serum, containing five essential peptides to support repair.
For microneedling effects without the needles, try La Prairie Platinum Rare Haute-Rejuvenation Mask. Its patented Macro-Infusion technology — a coating process — makes it much easier for the hyaluronic acid and collagen to be absorbed. Step one, apply a single-dose vial. Step two, seal the concentrate with the Ultra-Sensorial Cream.
Lastly, there are LED therapy devices. These Darth Vader-like masks are not as gimmicky as you may think. LED technology has long been used to treat rosacea, psoriasis and scarring, but its rejuvenating benefits mean it’s great for the neck and chest. The Light Salon Boost LED Bib for Neck & Décolletage is shaped to target signs of ageing in this area — as well as blemishes and sun damage on the shoulders.
You can finesse the experience at home by combining an LED device such as this with Cellcosmet CellCollagen Face and Neck mask, either on its own or under the LED. Oligopeptide-rich phials of serum help firm the face and neck in the time it takes to watch one episode of a TV show.
Do you need advice on spot solutions, make-up or a skin emergency? Send your questions to email@example.com and she will address your concerns in an upcoming column