There’s many a woman who has found herself embracing polo-neck tops as she ages. Changing fashion tastes? Not quite.
Instead, we’re all trying to hide that dreaded consequence of middle age: the turkey neck — when the muscles at the top of the neck weaken, causing an unflattering pouch of sagging skin.
But thanks to scientific and cosmetic advances, you don’t have to resign yourself to wearing a scarf for the rest of your life.
Just look at Judy Murray. This week, the 61-year-old mother of tennis star Andy shared pictures showing the stunning transformation after she grew tired of her sons’ teasing about her turkey neck.
Game, set and match: Judy Murray, 61, used a non-surgical facelift treatment for this transformation after being teased by her sons
Thanks to a non-surgical facelift called Morpheus8, which combines the latest micro-needling and radiofrequency techniques, Judy has emerged with the tauter neck of a woman ten years younger.
Here, we reveal why there’s no longer a reason for your neck to give away your age — to which a host of celebrities can attest . . .
WHY DO WE GET TURKEY NECKS?
Judy has blamed her turkey neck on sun damage from years of playing tennis and watching her sons compete at outdoor tournaments.
Experts agree that UV light is a major factor because while we tend to put sun protection on our face, we often forget our necks.
This means that the natural loss of collagen and elastin fibres in this area advances even more quickly, making the skin less elastic, and giving it a crepey loose look.
It is also more prone to sun ageing and age spots because the skin on the neck also has fewer melanocytes — the cells that make the pigment that protects it from sun damage.
But it’s not the only reason. Under the skin, the neck is also covered with a thin fan of muscle from the chest up to the neck and jaw called the platysma muscle.
‘As you get older, this muscle folds, creating raised creases like in a duvet,’ explains Naveen Cavale, a reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic. ‘This forms bands which start to show through the skin.’
Upturn girl: Christie Brinkley, 67, says she used Botox to relax platysmal bands of muscle in her neck which were pulling on the skin surface, giving her a turkey neck. With the muscles relaxed, the skin on top remains smooth
To allow us to be constantly moving our heads, the skin at the front of the neck is also as much as 50 per cent thinner than the skin on the face — and it also has fewer oil glands to keep it moist.
Just as leather will get more creased the more it’s used, so does our neck skin, says Dr Ross Perry, medical director of Cosmedics skin clinics.
And constantly looking down at your phone can make it worse, says plastic surgeon Dr Angelica Kavouni.
‘The changes to the neck and decolletage skin that we see as a result of looking down at a screen for a prolonged periods include creases, folds, fine lines and wrinkles caused by laxity of muscular support and the cumulative effects of photodamage and gravity.’
SCIENCE HAS COME TO OUR RESCUE
A decade ago, the only way to get any form of neck tightening or jowl-lifting was by going under the scalpel. But that meant hiding scars, as well as weeks of recovery.
It was also viewed with caution by experts due to all the important body parts that run through the neck — think your windpipe, food pipe and a host of important nerves and large blood vessels.
In recent years, techniques such as microneedling have been refined so they don’t go too deep into the neck skin, making them safer.
For example, crepeiness can be addressed with Profhilo — injections of high concentrations of hyaluronic acid filler to bring back moisture to the area.
Pigmentation and age spots can be zapped with lasers, while treatments such as microneedling can boost the collagen in neck skin.
Britain’s got taught: Amanda Holden revealed last year she’d also had the same Morpheus8 treatment as Judy Murray on her neck and face — plus collagen wave facials, which also use radiofrequency to have a dramatic tightening and rejuvenating effect on skin
SO WHAT EXACTLY DID JUDY DO?
Rather than going under the knife, Judy has revealed that her secret was three sessions of Morpheus8. This combines microneedling — where the skin is repeatedly punctured wit h tiny needles — and radiofrequency, at a cost of £1,500 per session.
Judy had numbing cream applied. Then microneedles were stamped across her neck skin in three sessions of 30 to 40 minutes.
The tips of the needles are heated with radiofrequency energy, passing this heat on the skin at a depth of up to 4mm. This caused ‘micro-injuries’ that made her skin produce collagen and elastin in order to heal. At the same time, the machine delivered radiofrequency heat to tighten and give a ‘shrink-wrapped’ look.
Judy’s Glasgow-based medic, Dr Judy Todd, said of the treatment: ‘It stimulates the production of new collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid in the skin, resulting in firmer, smoother, more lifted and hydrated skin.’
THREADS CAN LIFT AND TIGHTEN
However, Morpheus8 is not the only way to boost your neck — and Judy is not the only celebrity to do so. TV presenter Anthea Turner, 60, has revealed she used a thread lift to turn back time.
This is when threads containing barbs — shaped like small cones — are inserted under the neck skin and pulled tight.
The micro-cones are absorbed into the body over time and trigger more natural collagen production.
Beauty expert Alice Hart-Davis, author of The Tweakments Guide, says: ‘Three or four fine filaments are threaded through the skin from the temples down across the cheeks. Then your droopy skin tissues are repositioned by nudging them up along the threads, which have little cones along them to stop the skin sliding back down.’
Dr Kuldeep Minocha, of clinic Tempus Belgravia, adds: ‘This procedure will help physically lift and position the subcutaneous fat which is sliding and slipping down the neck back to where it belongs.’
Some like it hot: Gwyneth Paltrow, 48, has spoken about having Thermage treatments — a non-invasive radiofrequency technique without additional microneedling — to make her neck appear more youthful
BOTOX FOR YOUR NECK BANDS
Supermodel Christie Brinkley, 67, revealed in 2016 she had used Botox to relax the platysmal bands that were giving her a turkey neck.
As we age they can become taut, but Botox can relax the muscles and counteract the resultant downward pull that gives them that craggy look, resulting in a softer appearance.
‘As you approach 60, women start to notice the neck, especially in taller women,’ says Christie.
‘You can start to see these bands, vertical bands, and those can be tamed and tightened by injections of Botox into those bands.’
MAKING WAVES TO SMOOTH WRINKLES
Another weapon in the armoury against ageing necks is Thermage. This is when a handheld probe is pressed to the neck to send radiofrequency waves into the deeper layers of the skin, making it heat up.
This claims to make it contract, pulling the upper more visible layers tighter, and smoothing out wrinkles.
The treatment also claims to stimulate more collagen to grow in the underlying layers for up to six months to a year, making the area look firmer. Treatment sessions last from 30 to 90 minutes — and can cost up to £2,000, with some clinics saying one procedure is enough to see an improvement.
Fergie’s favourite: Sarah Ferguson and Harley Street doctor Dr Gabriela Mercik revealed in 2019 that the Duchess of York had a ‘6D Laser Lift’ — this involves using a laser to gently resurface the skin and stimulate collagen growth
CAN ‘NECKS-ERCISE’ WORK FOR YOU?
According to Carole Maggio, author of The Ultimate Facercise, it is possible to make your neck and jaw look firm and taut with facial exercise alone. To tighten the chin, neck and jawline, she has long recommended the Jaw Toner move twice a day.
This involves opening your mouth and rolling your lower lip over your bottom teeth. Then make small ‘O-shape’ with your mouth.
Next, keep your upper lip pressed against your teeth. Then slowly open and close your mouth five times, as if your mouth corners and chin are connected and working together to close your mouth.
Hold the final position with your mouth closed for a few seconds, then pull your chin up towards the ceiling another centimetre — and hold the position once more.
Another method to rejuvenate your neck for those who prefer to avoid needles is Gua-Sha. This is where are stones made of jade or rose quartz are used to massage the lower face and jaw. This creates movement of the lymphatic system, which is said to drain the lower face of fluid, helping those who are prone to puffiness.
Natural health expert Janey Lee Grace says: ‘Gua-Sha is a simple self-massage technique that can help to stimulate the dermis and release tension and relax face and neck muscles.’
TRY THESE LOTIONS AND POTIONS
Many of us tend to use products on our necks we apply to our face. And while there are products that do both, such as Loreal’s Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Face & Neck Cream (£12.99, superdrug.com), some are targeting the more delicate skin on the neck.
They include Dermalogica’s new Neck Fit Contour Serum (£59.99, fragrancedirect.co.uk), which comes as a roller massager with a set of exercises on an app.
Overall, there are fewer sebaceous glands to secrete oil on the neck, making it more prone to dryness and wrinkling.
So it will also help to look for products containing hyaluronic acid, which hold moisture to help skin look plumper and smoother.
These include PRAI Ageless Throat & Décolletage Crème (£25, marksandspencer.com).
Judy Murray is believed to have used cleansers and moisturisers from the Obagi Nu-Derm System, a range that can be only dispensed by a doctor under prescription.
It uses an ingredient called tretinoin to get rid of age spots and hyperpigmentation caused by too much sun exposure and replace lost collagen. But the range’s exfolitator alone can cost up to £100. At the very least, always use a moisturiser that contains a sunscreen.