When it comes to lifting your neck without surgery, what does and doesn’t work? There are a lot of questionable things out there, and today we’re going to talk about what truly works. But first, let's get into the anatomy of the skin.
Skin is different from the muscles and even from the underlying skin. Our bodies go through changes as we get older, but this is not inherently bad. Aging is a privilege. A few of those major changes are things such as skin laxity, skin volume, bone structure, and gravity. Our skin is made up of multiple layers. The epidermis is at the top and the dermis is at the bottom. This is what gives our skin structure. What gives our skin its flexibility is collagen and elastin, but as we get older, our skin doesn’t make as much of those things.
Over time, sun damage, environmental pollution, stress, and collagen degradation can make our skin a little less firm. When elastin or collagen breaks down, we lose a little bit of that structure, and the skin can start to sag. There’s also the loss of volume. As people get older, they lose fat or adipose tissue in the face. Adipose tissue is a cushion that supports the face and the skin. So, when there isn’t much fat in this area, the skin starts to look a little more saggy or wrinkly. Our bone structures change throughout our entire lives too, and that can impact the way skin sits on top of it.
Can you tighten the neck with neck exercises?
With neck tightening exercises, you're strengthening the muscles underneath the skin, but you're not adding volume to them, it won’t do much. Moreover, we have a lot of muscles in the neck, and doing neck exercises won’t necessarily impact the ones that would theoretically help tighten that neck skin.
How do neck lifts work?
It’s more important to actually target the skin, and that’s where things like a facelift or necklift come in however, these procedures do leave scars. Usually, they're behind the ear. You have to cut the skin out and pull it over the muscles as well as the underlying structures to give you that lifted look.
However, that costs a ton of money, it requires downtime, and there can be complications. So, let’s go through some of the options that are available medically, and then, over the counter.
Can get a neck lift without surgery?
Here is a quick look at a few non-surgical options.
There are things like injectables, and one example is Juvederm velour. This is a hyaluronic acid serum used to fill up fine lines.
Ultrasound therapy uses lifting devices such as Softwave, and you have to get those done in clinic.
Radio frequency combined with microneedling
Clinics use brands like Secret by Cutera, Morpheus, and fractura to help rebuild collagen and improve skin suppleness.
This is a temporary solution that holds the skin up.
Botox is acutally not going to help when it comes to saggy neck skin. Botox or botulinum toxin is a muscle paralyzer, and it prevents you from being able to make facial expressions. While Botox does help to prevent muscles from being moved so they don’t wrinkle, botox doesn’t actually help to add volume to the skin. However, depending on how much is being injected, it can lift the skin.
When it comes to neck creams, a lot are quite gimmicky. On the other hand, things like retinoids, different hydrating treatments, and SPF are phenomenal. You can use certain ones along with devices that can help lift the neck.
So, how do neck-lifting devices play along with OTC creams?
What if you are not looking to go in-clinic, and you want something available over the counter? Before we get into the devices, we also have to talk about habit and consistency. If you don’t use these tools regularly, they won’t work. Tracking your progress can help with consistency too. We shouldn’t just look at advertisements and expect expedient results. “Before and Afters” take time.
Medicube Age-R Ussera Deep Shot Device -$365
This is a radiofrequency device. Cassandra has done radio frequency in professional settings, and this provides radiofrequency stimulations that help to build collagen and elastin in the skin. This process creates a lift in the neck by helping to rebuild some of that volume in the bottom layer or dermis of the skin.
When you do a radiofrequency treatment in-clinic, it’s very expensive, and it takes consistency. You have to do a couple of radiofrequency treatments, and each treatment can cost anywhere from $500 - $1,000 per treatment. So, although the Medicube Age-R Ussera is expensive, costing $200-$300, the plus side is that it can be used at home. You can even use it 3 times a week!
Radiofrequency uses sound waves to penetrate different tissues or structures in the body. We cannot hear them, but they produce waves that can create lifting and tightening collagen stimulation. Radiofrequency has been shown to help with wrinkles and collagen stimulation, and this has been shown over and over.
In addition, while the Medicube Age-R Ussera has a lower setting, it also has a high frequency setting. High frequency refers to a specific range of radio waves that are in the electromagnetic spectrum. High frequency is a small subset of radio frequency, specifically, between 3 and 30 megahertz. The way high frequency and radio frequency work in the skin is by creating thermal injury. This injury causes the skin to rebuild so it can build back better. In a Mount Sanai case study, it showed how people with acne scars greatly benefited from this. This treatment helps to increase the density or thickness of the dermis, the area where our collagen and elastin are. While this area can become weaker and degrade our skin over time, we can help it remain plump if we take steps to create volume in that area of our neck.
When you turn this on, it has different settings. Cassandra normally uses level 1 or 2. When you turn it on, radio frequency is activated. You’ll want to do it once on each section, and that’s why this is one of the fastest devices Cassandra has ever used. You use it, and then move it to the next area. When it’s red and beeping that means it’s sending out the radio frequency.
After three beeps, you can move it to the next area. It gets quite warm. It doesn't get uncomfortable, but it is something that you can feel. It also beeps if you go over the same area more than once. This ensures that you’re not damaging the skin – only microdamage. Microdamage tells your body to create a response that sends cells and signals proteins to rebuild, heal, stimulate collagen, and stimulate elastin in the neck area. So, you should only do this three times a week. You only need to injure the area minorly, but at the same time, do it in a way that gives it a chance to rebuild. Once you finish with that, you can wipe the gel in. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, a pace maker, pregnant, or breastfeeding, you are not going to want to use this.
Cassandra tries not to use this around her eyes. We have around our eyes like the orbicularis oculi and the orbicularis oris. These are circular muscles whereas the muscles elsewhere on the face are stretched out. It's more significant not to use microcurrents around this area, but you still want to be careful because it is a heat-emitting device. Cassandra does her forehead because she likes collagen stimulation there too, but the main thing is doing it on the neck. Don’t go over the Adam’s apple and the thyroid though. You want to focus on the sternocleidomastoid and platysma.
So, you place it on each area of the skin for three beeps, and then, you repeat this three times a week. If you have sensitive skin, you can do more of a sweeping motion. In general, they also say not to use it in the same area.
This is not going to have the same impact as a facelift, and you may even have to use other skincare or other devices to see results. You can also use it on smile lines.
The Age-R Ussera is very simple to use, and it takes the least amount of time. You need a conduction gel, and it helps the benefits of the radiofrequency to be even more effective. All you do is pour it on top of the device.
Also, for someone who has decreased mobility, this has a really good grip, and it’s very lightweight.
Medicube Age-R Booster Gel Serum-$45
Cassandra also uses this with her other devices. This is fantastic too because it has vegan collagen. This is a wonderful, hydrating, moisturizing, and firming gel. Basically, it’s a conduction gel that you can leave on. You don’t necessarily have to wash it off. You need to use a gel serum rather than something like oil because oil does not have the same polarity that water does, and it won’t allow the polarity to be conducted through the skin. This gel feels a little tacky before it absorbs, but it still provides vegan collagen.
The plant stem cells are super nourishing to the skin, and this also has a lot of humectants which means it brings moisture. Even if you use it without the Medicube, this is a great product that works like a gel moisturizer. Cassandra loves the price, and she loves how it works.
Perricone MD COLD PLASMA PLUS+ SUB-D/NECK -$135
This shoots microcurrents. It’s an EMS device (electrical muscular stimulation), and it’s also a great shoulder and neck massager. This causes muscle stimulation, and muscle stimulation can help contract muscles which depending on the muscle being acted upon, helps lift things. Depending on the intensity, it can also help stimulate ATP which is what our body uses for energy and adenosine triphosphate. Studies are showing that ATP is directly linked to collagen formation and to collagen building inside of the skin. This device also has more intense setting that you can use for your body. You don’t want to do this one over your thyroid or adam’s apple either. You can pore the booster gel serum on it to increase effectiveness. The more gel you have, the stronger the conduction is going to be.
You can use other things such as aloe vera gel tpo. Using a gel actually creates a full circuit, shooting electricity from one side of the tool, going through your body, and connecting to the other. This is what wiil causes your skin to twitch upon using it.
NuFACE® Mini Microcurrent -$168
This does not make Cassandra’s face twitch whereas the Perricone one does. It’s lower-level microcurrent.
If you don’t want to use devices, let’s talk about a couple of products that can be used. Let’s begin with neck creams. Firstly, Cassandra thinks neck creams are a huge scam. When you look at most neck creams, they are literally the same things as regular moisturizers; they just market them for the neck. The one exception is this one from Dr. Perricone MD, and this only works because it has SPF. It’s an SPF cream marketed as neck cream. Any lifting moisturizer that has SPF in it is going to be great for this neck area. And if you’re looking to focus on products, Cassandra would recommend a product like Black Girl Sunscreen.
Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30 -$15.99
This is one of Cassandra’s favorites, especially for mature skin. This has jojoba oil and avocado oil. This is very nourishing to the skin, and if you have a little bit of sagging, this has humectants and hydrators that can plump it up. It gives you a little bit of a dew, but Cassandra even loves this for her oily-prone skin. There are many other sunscreens out there, and if you like a specific sunscreen on your face, use it on your neck. That is going to prevent sun damage and prevent a lot of sagging and degradation from happening. So, when we choose to rebuild with something like radio frequency, we don’t have to rebuild as much because we’re also preventing the damage from happening.
It’s also good to consider retinoids. Whether it’s a prescription or an OTC retinoid, retinoids are fantastic. While they’re not the same as a facelift, retinoids do help to plump up those deeper layers of skin. They actually stimulate different epidermal growth factors to strengthen our skin.
AcneFree Adapalene Gel (For acne and wrinkles) -$12.99
This is adapalene gel, and it is still in the retinoid family, but it’s considered a synthetic retinoid. It’s more stable so you can use this during the day. Although it says acne and acne scars, retinoids still work for making the skin more supple. So, you can get tretinoin, Retin-A Micro from a dermatologist, or you can get retinaldehyde, retinol, or adapalene gel over the counter. When it comes to topicals, retinoids are the strongest ones. They help with aging, acne scars, and active breakouts.
You can use retinoids along with your sunscreen. As always, if you’re using a retinoid, wear a sunscreen. No matter what, you should wear a sunscreen.
A lot of people discredit hydrators and humectants as grateful aging treatment, but they actually pull moisture into the skin and cream gel moisturizers plump up the skin a little. If you have dehydrated skin that looks a bit crinkly, it's good to rehydrate your skin. When you rehydrate your skin, you will see results over time. That’s why it’s great to find a sunscreen that doubles as a moisturizer. It’s also really key tolayer serums to give it a supple look!