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The Real Cause of Loose Neck Skin at 40 and How to Fix It  
The Real Cause of Loose Neck Skin at 40 and How to Fix It  


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As you get older, you might start to develop what’s known as turkey neck. This refers to loose folds of skin on your neck, which can begin forming when you’re in your 30s and 40s. If you're trying to maintain a more youthful appearance, extra skin on the neck and under the chin may be working against you. While loose neck skin in  your 40's and later is common, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have it.

Learning more about what causes sagging skin can help you understand why this happens. The following info can also help you learn more about possible treatment options and what you can do to prevent loose neck skin in the first place.

excess loose skin

7 Common Causes of Turkey Neck and Sagging Skin

What causes loose neck skin at 40 to develop? While anyone can end up with sagging neck skin, some people have a higher risk than others. Aging reduces collagen and elastin production, causing sagging and wrinkles in the neck. You can develop loose neck skin from any of the following causes.

1) Natural aging

The aging process affects collagen production. Collagen protein helps your skin stay firm, but your body produces less of it as you get older. According to a 2018 study published in Matrix Biology, enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) break collagen down.

This decreased collagen production leads to sagging skin in your neck and other areas. Instead of being able to stretch and return to its original size, your skin begins to develop folds. 

signs of aging

2) Extreme or rapid weight loss

A healthy weight is good for your well-being overall. However, if you lose a large amount of weight, especially rapidly, you can end up with excess skin. Your skin has another protein called elastin that helps it remain flexible. Normally, your skin can be stretched and retracted without any problems.

When you lose a lot of weight, especially suddenly, collagen and elastin might not be able to handle this change. Instead, you’re more at risk of having excess skin. A peer-reviewed 2019 study published in the Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases found that people tend to have loose skin in many areas after significant weight loss.

person standing on a scale

3) Smoking tobacco

If you’re a smoker, you have a higher chance of ending up with turkey neck. Smoking causes collagen damage and makes it harder for your body to produce this protein. When you keep smoking, you can develop loose neck skin, which can make you look older.

4) Side sleeping or sleeping on your stomach

The way you sleep can increase your chance of having loose neck skin as you age. Sleeping on your side or stomach in the same position causes your skin to fold repeatedly. According to a peer-reviewed medical study published in ADPA in 2008, this can result in the appearance of folds and sleeping lines on your neck and face.

side sleeping

5) Genetics

Your genes might affect your skin as you get older. Genetics can have an impact on skin elasticity, which can raise the risk of having turkey neck and other signs of aging.

More research is needed to better understand genetics and skin aging. However, a 2014 study published in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology found that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can play a role in skin aging.

6) Sun exposure and UV radiation

Being out in the sun might boost your mood, but it can wreak havoc on your skin. Sun exposure can cause you to end up with loose neck skin, age spots, and other skin changes as you age.

The sun’s UV rays, especially UVB rays, are responsible for causing this damage to occur. In fact, a 2008 review published in Acta Dermatoven APA found that UV radiation makes up about 80% of environmental factors that cause skin aging, including sagging skin.

age and sun exposure

7) Other factors for sagging neck skin

A few other factors can cause turkey neck to occur, such as:

  • Alcohol intake
  • Severe stress
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Overeating
  • Poor nutrition
  • Environmental pollution

6 Treatments and Preventions of Loose Neck Skin

You can take steps to lower your risk of having sagging neck skin in your 40s and beyond. If you already have turkey neck, don’t despair! Several treatments are available, including both invasive surgical procedures and non-invasive cosmetic treatments to tighten sagging neck skin.

1) Sleep on a silk pillowcase

Being a side sleeper might raise your risk of sleeping lines and loose neck skin, but the right pillowcase can change that. Did you know that silk contains a protein that protects your skin from UVB damage?

A 2003 study published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology found that the silk protein sericin reduces acute skin damage caused by the sun’s UVB rays. Since UV radiation makes up about 80% of environmental factors that cause skin aging, including sagging skin, sleeping on a silk pillowcase is an easy and inexpensive way to treat your skin as you sleep.

sleeping on silk

Resting your face and neck on an ultra plush Blissy Silk Pillowcase is a great way to take advantage of this protective protein!

Find out what customers are saying about Blissy pillowcases.

2) Radiofrequency treatments

Radiofrequency offer a nonsurgical way to tighten neck skin. This kind of treatment involves the use of energy waves, which heat your skin and stimulate collagen production. Boosting collagen production can help tighten loose skin in your neck and other areas.

If you’re dealing with turkey neck, radiofrequency might be a treatment option to think about. How effective is it? A 2006 study published in Dermatologic Surgery found that the use of radiofrequency helped improve sagging neck skin in 96% of study participants.

radiofrequency laser treatment to fix skin laxity

3) Ultrasound treatment

Ultrasound provides another way to tighten loose neck skin. This kind of treatment uses ultrasound energy to stimulate collagen production in your skin. Ultrasound is able to reach deeper into your skin, which might help lead to more effective results.

If you’re considering ultrasound treatment for loose neck skin, you may be asking yourself: is it worth it?

According to a 2014 study published in Dermatologic Surgery, the use of microfocused ultrasound on women with sagging neck skin and face skin led to improvements in the majority of these participants.

ultrasound treatment for new collagen production

4) Microbotox injections

You might think of Botox injections as a way to get rid of wrinkles in your forehead and other facial areas, but it can also be used for loose neck skin.

Microbotox injections involve putting tiny droplets of Botox into targeted areas of your neck to help tighten skin, eliminate vertical band-like lines, and reduce other aging signs.

How well does this work? A 2018 study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that microbotox injections were effective at reducing signs of aging in neck skin.

When done at the first signs of aging, Botox injections can also be used to prevent sagging neck skin. 

botox injection in the neck area

5) Cosmetic surgery

If you have severe sagging skin on your neck or if other treatments don’t work, you might explore cosmetic surgery as an option. A surgical neck lift procedure, such as platysmaplasty, can remove loose neck skin and reshape the jawline for a more youthful appearance. Surgical procedures, such as neck lifts, can help tighten neck skin.

Keep in mind that surgical procedures are usually more risky and invasive than nonsurgical procedures. You can schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon about whether or not to consider cosmetic surgery. They can go over the pros and cons and determine if you’re a good candidate.

plastic surgery for neck lift

6) Prescription retinoids (vitamin A)

If you don’t have turkey neck and want to find a way to prevent it, talk to your doctor or a dermatologist about prescription retinoids. These vitamin A compounds can be effective for boosting collagen production in your skin to help tighten it and reduce skin folds.

Retinoids can also lead to higher cell turnover in your skin. This allows new cells to grow, which can improve your skin’s appearance. While over-the-counter products containing retinol, a weaker form of vitamin A, are available, prescription retinoids provide more effective results.

applying a retinoid neck cream

Other Prevention Options for Loose Skin

How else can you lower your risk of having loose neck skin at 40? There are several things you can do starting now:

  • Moisturize your neck skin regularly. This can help maintain smooth neck skin.

  • Exfoliate your neck skin to get rid of dead skin cells. Exfoliating can also benefit facial skin, reducing the risk of droopy skin under the chin.

  • Apply sunscreen to lower your risk of sun damage

  • Eat foods with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseed, to stimulate collagen production

  • Keep sugars to a minimum, since they can increase skin aging

  • Do exercises that stretch your face and neck muscles to prevent sagging skin

    Ready to lower your risk of loose neck skin? Shop Blissy today to see our collection of silk pillowcases!

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