I was asked by a blog reader if I prescribe tretinoin (Retin-A) to treat one of the most common aging skin problems on the chest – deep wrinkles. In this area, skin is often also covered with red and brown blotchy color, crinkles, and crepey wrinkles. These same issues are true for the neck as well.
I, like the other commentators, have benefited a lot from your advice. I really appreciate how detailed your guidance is, especially for someone like me who has an intense case of rosacea.
Regarding this discussion on retinoids, how do you feel about their use on the neck and chest? I have deep vertical chest wrinkles – I think from sleeping on my side as well as sun exposure. I have used an OTC Neutrogena product which contains retinol for over a year, and I don’t think it has lessened the depth or the number of wrinkles. Would using a prescription product have more of a chance of success?
Thanks for your time!
Since this is an issue many people face, I want to share my dermatologist recommendations for the best anti-aging skin care for the neck and chest.
Thank you for telling me that my advice has helped! Regarding the chest lines and neck, yes, I commonly have my patients use tretinoin in these areas. I consider it an important part of the most powerful skin care routine to fight aging neck and chest skin. People often focus on their facial skin care, but it is important to include the neck and chest in treatments because the face, neck and chest are often seen in one vision when we wear the most common types of shirts.
Tretinoin works nicely to improve the appearance of the neck and chest skin. For more information on exactly how tretinoin works, read “How to Correctly Use Retin-A Tretinoin for Anti-Aging and Acne Skin Care.” That said, those vertical lines are often very deep and don’t budge easily with skin care products alone. Importantly though, the skin texture and color improves, which makes the lines less noticeable. Also, bright and clear skin reflects light better so textural details are less apparent to the eye.
It is important to know that a person’s ability to tolerate tretinoin on these areas will vary. For some people, it causes redness and irritation that they just can’t work through. Other people find it a breeze. I myself have used it on my chest and neck for 30ish years without any problem. Ideally, I work my patients up to the 0.1% gradually. I think that waiting the 15+ minutes after skin has been wet really makes a difference. Also, if one has night sweats and lots of fine skin folds that get sweaty, it may make tolerance difficult. For people who can’t tolerate tretinoin or who don’t have a prescription, my Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is in a class all its own for non-prescription retinoid products. It is very strong and formulated by a pharmaceutical lab and chemist to give you the highest retinoid benefits without a prescription. It is a great way to start treating this area.
Zinc oxide sunscreens must also be used daily to protect tretinoin and retinol-treated skin. This is important to prevent the undoing of all the good work these ingredients and other products and procedures you embrace in your fight against skin aging.
Again, understand this area often needs lots of encouragement to improve and resist aging. In addition to tretinoin, I also have my patients apply Glytone Body Lotion to the area twice a week if there is no retinoid dermatitis and if they can tolerate it without stinging. I start either the glycolic acid or the retinoid, and once the skin has adjusted, we add the other. This process usually takes about a month.
In addition to the skin care routine I just mentioned, we often include our best technology to counter skin aging on the chest and neck too. It is really that important. We use BBL (IPL) routinely to treat the neck and chest. In fact, I am so adamant about treating the neck and chest that I have priced our BBL treatment packages to give patients the best financial discount if they choose to treat the neck and chest at the same time as the face! I want patients to do an initial series of 3-5 monthly treatments to get the skin where we want it followed by then 2 treatments a year.
For those vertical chest wrinkles and for turkey neck, our BBL also has a skin tightening setting we can add to this BBL package; ask our doctors about adding SkinTyte treatment for the low face, neck and chest to tighten the skin here a bit. We give patients a very nice pricing discount for making these choices because these areas are usually seen in one view with the most common fashions, and our goal is to have the skin looking nice overall.
We also routinely use our Profractional Laser Treatments on the neck and chest to fight the wrinkles and crinkly skin. I recommend two treatments done at 6 week intervals, and then one treatment done annually. My aesthetician can even do microdermabrasion and peels to maintain results and help products penetrate better. We add these to maintenance facials to multitask skin into looking great all year long. Know that laser and BBL (IPL) can only be done when a person is not tan and will not be going into the sun. Not every skin type is a candidate for these technologies, and darker skin complexions often need pre-treatment with pigment lightening products including tretinoin!
If you are local, come in for a consult and let us set up a comprehensive Laser, Light and Tyte program for you. We love fixing skin! Click here to call for an appointment.
I personally avail myself of all-of-the-above, and my 57-year-old previously sun baked type II chest and neck look okay for an old blonde gal! However, it does take work to counter nature in this anatomic area. That’s the fun of it actually!
To summarize, my recommendations for the best products to counter aging on the neck and chest include:
- A retinoid such as prescription tretinoin or my Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream
- Glycolic Acid as in my Body Skin Care Kit
- Zinc Oxide Sunscreen 356 days a year. My favorites for the neck and chest include my Pure Physical Sunscreen Spray, Citrix, and Solbar Zinc
Your question is so great I wanted to post it as part of our “Ask Dr. Bailey” series. Thank you for your question!
Cynthia Bailey, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist
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