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Talking turkey (neck)

By The Health News Team | February 24, 2017
Turkey neck

Let's talk turkey — not the bird, but rather the loose skin on your neck that resembles a turkey's wattle, those wrinkled folds of skin that hang under its beak. "Turkey neck" comes with aging, weight fluctuations and sun exposure, three things that are hard to avoid.

"Turkey neck, sometimes called turkey gobble neck, is basically loose neck skin and muscles," says Dr. Larry Pollack, a board-certified plastic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Memorial Hospital. "It can be hereditary, but is most often due to aging, UV damage or weight loss."

Dr. Pollack explains that the neck's skin and muscles become loose once we reach age 40. The skin becomes less able to shrink with weight loss, and weakened muscles can create a banded appearance.

Popular skin care products, treatments and procedures for the face can help us fight the effects of aging. However, we often forget to treat the skin on our necks, revealing our true age.

Although there are things you can do to help prevent a turkey neck, there is little that can be done beyond surgery to fully repair your neck to the taut and youthful appearance many desire.

To help prevent baggy, sagging skin on your neck, Dr. Pollack recommends the following:

  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to avoid extreme weight gain and loss.

  • Wear wide-brimmed hats when outdoors.

  • Always use sunblock with an SPF (sun protection factor) of no less than 30 — preferably 50 or more — every day of the year.

  • Use skin care products that will exfoliate and moisturize the skin to improve quality and appearance.

If your aging neck is truly bothering you, there are a few in-office and surgical treatments to consider.

The following will all help to improve the quality and appearance of the skin on your neck:

  • Microdermabrasion and chemical peels

  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser treatments

  • Neck- and face-lift surgery

If fat deposits under the jaw cause your sagging neck, liposuction or freezing fat can also help, but usually only if you are younger than 40 and still have youthful skin elasticity.

"There are excellent treatment options if you are over 40 and your skin is no longer shrinking down as easily as it used to," says Dr. Pollack. "Surgeries are usually performed as an outpatient procedure and the small surgical scars are easy to conceal behind hair. Patients are usually very pleased with the results."

Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about the appearance of your skin. Available treatment options and basic lifestyle changes can improve your overall health, wellness and appearance.

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