Lax muscles, excess fat and aging all contribute to that unsightly, loose skin that's often referred to as a turkey wattle. This excess skin hanging from your neck can give away your age or add years to your appearance. Often, costly cosmetic procedures are the only way to get rid of the loose skin. Although, you can't stop the natural aging process, there are things you can do to prevent getting to this point. This can include a healthy diet and regular exercise to keep your weight in check and targeted treatments to keep your neck in good condition.
Eat a sensible diet to maintain a healthy weight. Include the basic food groups in your diet: whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice; a variety of fruits and veggies; fat-free or low-fat dairy products; and lean protein, such as fish, poultry, nuts and beans. Limit foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt and cholesterol.
Lose weight at a gradual rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week if you're overweight. Achieve this by accumulating a caloric deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories a day through diet and exercise. Avoid fast weight loss that quickly shrinks your body to the point where your skin can't keep up and starts sagging.
Engage in regular physical activity to help manage your weight. The Centers for Disease Control favors a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio a week, and strength training on at least two days. Cardio can include walking briskly, riding a bike, jogging, climbing stairs, jumping rope, group sports, aerobic classes or using a rowing or elliptical machine. For strength training, use free weights, exercise bands, weightlifting machines or the weight of your body for resistance.
Perform targeted exercises every day to keep the muscles in your neck firm. For instance, do the head tilt; sit upright in a chair with your mouth closed. Then tilt your head back as far as you can so you feel a stretch in the front of your neck. Pull your bottom lip over your top lip to emphasize the stretch. Hold this for 10 seconds and then return your head to starting point. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
Perform the smiling exercise as part of your neck-tightening workout. This exercise also targets your jowls. Sit upright in a chair and pull your lips in, wrapping them around your upper and lower teeth. Then exaggerate a smile so you feel your neck muscles tightening. Hold this smiling pose for 10 seconds before releasing it. Repeat the exercise 12 times. (See References 6, p. 89)
Make your facial skincare regimen part of your neck-care regimen. When you cleanse and moisturize your face, use the same products on your neck to keep the skin conditioned and to prevent dryness. Use upward strokes when applying moisturizer to your neck.
Apply sunscreen on your neck to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 and reapply it regularly throughout the day.
Consult your doctor before trying to lose weight or starting an exercise routine, especially if you suffer from a medical condition or injury.
- Your Future Face: Create a Customized Plan for Beautiful Skin; Dennis Gross and Cara Kagan
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- Forget the Facelift; Doris J. Day and Sondra Forsyth
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Look Younger, For Longer; Lesley Reynolds Khan
- Age-Proof: Beauty Alternatives You Need to Know; Louisa Graves
- Growing Younger; Bridget Doherty and Julia VanTine
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.