The predominant features of an ageing neck that concerns patients fall broadly into 3 categories.
Accumulation of fat and sagging under the chin.
The accumulation of fat under the chin is medically termed Submental fat but is more commonly called a Double Chin. Whilst various fat freezing and heating devices can be tried the best non-surgical results are achieved with the injections of a purified bile acid called Deoxycholic acid. Follow up studies have found this to be a permanent and safe method of removing unwanted fat from under the chin. Surgery may still need to be considered for very severe Double Chins or where there is a lot of loose skin as well as fat.
Thickened vertical muscle cords (Platysmal Bands)
The platysma is a muscle that gives support at the front of the neck, however as the effects of ageing progress the platysmal muscle can deteriorate and result in the formation of thickened vertical muscle cords at the front of the neck, so called platysmal bands. These bands often extend from the jawline down to the collarbone. Whilst these bands can be treated surgically (Platysmal plication) these prominent bands can also be managed nonsurgically using the same product used for wrinkle treatments. This treatment is best suited for patients with thick bands and a thin neck.
Pigmentation and wrinkling.
Non surgical approaches in neck rejuvenation are much more focused on improving skintone and texture. Significant photodamage is commonly seen on the neck as it is often neglected from sun protection. The outer part oF the neck can appear mottled with red and brown discolouration. This often can form a horseshoe shape with sparing under the chin (which is in shadow and protected from the sun) and may extend down onto the chest. This is sometimes called Poikiloderma.
When treating the neck area with lasers, it needs to be appreciated that neck skin is different to facial skin. Neck skin is thinner and lacks as many structures such as sweat glands and hair follicles which help with skin healing. Subsequently care has to be taken when tre ating the neck requiring shorter and less aggressive treatment. Protocols are used with multiple lower power sessions and there is a need to be patient regarding outcome.
The choice of laser or light source for neck rejuvenation will depend on the nature of the problem. At the Cosmetic and Laser Medical Centre we have a range of systems which enables us to tailor treatment to individual requirements.
Commonly to treat redness a Pulse Dye Laser (Candela V Beam) is used: to treat pigment a 532 KTP laser is used and to treat combined redness and pigmentation an IPL can be used.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in neck rejuvenating treatments has been the advent of fractionated resurfacing using the FRAXEL laser. This technology can result in significant improvement in texture and wrinkles. An added benefit is that it also can improve pigmentation.