Anti-Aging Strategies: How to Prevent the Wattle

I’m not referring to the Golden Wattle…

The word ?wattle? has several different meanings. It can refer to a flower, a building technique, a minor congenital skin lesion resembling a skin tag, the wrinkly, crepe-y, loose skin on a turkey?s neck, etc. Unfortunately, this last definition of the word is also used to describe people?s appearances; specifically what happens when the skin on one?s neck becomes loose or wrinkly due to drastic weight loss or as part of the aging process.

The character Richard Fish (played by Greg Germann) from the popular and funny 1990s show Ally McBeal had a whole storyline that re-occurred in several episodes which poked fun at this usage of the word. In the show, the term wattle was not necessarily used in a derogatory manner, rather, it was a feature on a woman that Fish considered desirable. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t doubt that a lot of women saw those shows, looked in the mirror, and contemplated whether or not they had wattles; and if so, how could they get rid of them?

Once it?s there, your options are limited

I can tell you for sure that like many advanced signs of aging, once you have a wattle there is little you can do to get rid of it, short of cosmetic surgery, which you all know I am not a fan of. Even religious use of Elaine?s face bra and this lovely contraption (couldn’t bring myself to post a picture of it) won’t reverse the wattle.


There is an aesthetic service called microcurrent which stimulates the muscles via very small doses of electrical current with the intention of ?re-educating the muscles? to return to their once firm state. Microcurrent can be an effective part of a preventative anti-aging facial if performed regularly on people who are starting to show the beginning signs of elastosis. It can indeed help re-establish muscle memory in those areas without causing strain on other areas; and additionally help stimulate the fibroblasts, thus encouraging production of new collagen and elastin. However, it is not as effective on those with advanced elastosis?full-fledged wattles.

There are newer cosmetic lasers on the market that have shown decent results in treating loose, sagging, wrinkled skin in the neck area as well as on other parts of the body; but I would be cautious with those as with other cosmetic lasers (not including cold laser therapy). Many of these treatments will provide a short-term improvement, but can actually cause inflammation and damage to the cells that will thin the dermis, weaken the skin?s elasticity, and ultimately speed up the aging process in the long run. If you are a candidate for these laser treatments and want to invest the money (these treatments are very expensive and many are needed to see the effects), I would recommend finding out exactly which laser the doctors? office or medi-spa is using, and google the heck out of it for side effects. These lasers are so new that long-term effects are likely not available.

Wattles can be prevented

If you do not yet show any signs of potentially developing a wattle or if your skin is just starting to exhibit signs, prevention of future damage is very possible.

There are two types of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic:

  • Intrinsic aging signs are caused by internal factors such as hormones, heredity, facial expressions, certain medications, illnesses, and certain dietary and lifestyle choices. Many of these factors cannot be prevented, and they show up on the face usually as dynamic fine lines (those lines that appear when the face moves when speaking or making an expression, but are not usually as visible when the face is still. Examples are crow?s feet, frown lines, smile lines, etc).
  • Extrinsic aging comes from factors outside of the body such as free radical damage from pollution, toxins, extreme climates; and most commonly, the sun. Signs of aging like loose, sagging skin, deep wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, static facial lines (lines that are visible when the face is not moving that are located in places other than where dynamic lines usually appear), and deep dynamic lines that are caused by movement on the face but stay visible when the face is static are primarily caused by UV damage and smoking. Many extrinsic aging factors, like sun damage, are easily preventable. Elastosis is considered to be a result of extrinsic aging.
How can we prevent wattles or improve the appearance of ones that are beginning?

The best things we can do at a young age or even at a certain age to prevent elastosis are to stop or never start smoking and avoid areas where indoor smoking is permitted (thankfully indoor smoking has been banned in most public places in the United States), or where people are smoking outside; and protect ourselves from UV damage. Many healthcare professionals are saying that 10 to no more than 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily is good for getting our Vitamin D; but any exposure more than that could cause problems like premature aging and skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen/sunblock or protective clothing whenever exposed to the sun?s UV rays for longer than 10 or 15 minutes is absolutely imperative regardless of how hot it is, or what season it is. It is not the heat that damages our cells; it is the radiation. Even in cooler temperatures, the sun?s UV radiation can damage our cells. It can reflect off snow when we are clearing our driveways, and become magnified through car windows when we are on a long car trip.

Another easy step we can take to prevent wattles is to make sure we do not neglect the neck and d?collet? when applying our skin care products. Whenever you get a facial, the neck and d?collet? are almost always treated with the products and massage along with the face. There is a reason for this: the areas neck and d?collet?, in addition to the hands, are very prone to premature aging. Often, even on celebrities, you will see someone with pristine-looking skin on his or her face who has the beginning signs of loose skin on the neck and sun spots on the d?collet?. People usually have no problem applying copious amounts of hand cream on a regular basis, but often fail to give the neck and d?collet? the same attention during the daily skin care regimen.

What is the best way to apply skin care products to the neck and d?collet??

On the face, cleansers and moisturizers are best applied opposite the direction of gravity: upwards and outwards. However, this is not the case with the neck. Always apply products to the neck by stroking gently but firmly down the sides of the neck towards the heart, similar to the direction in which we dry brush the skin for detoxification from the outermost extremities inwards toward the heart. Products can be applied to the d?collet? using swift but gentle upwards strokes from the d?collet? up to the collarbone.

There are several special products marketed as specifically used for the neck and d?collet?, but in my opinion they are not necessary. Whatever you use for your facial moisturizer/sun protection product will be sufficient for the neck and d?collet?. I would also apply anti-aging serums to the neck and d?collet?. As with any skin care or personal care products I always recommend avoiding any irritant or inflammatory ingredients, as well as any ingredients, especially heavy emollients, that will clog pores. In addition to my serums, I like to use a day cream that contains zinc oxide as sun protection, as well as liposomally delivered antioxidants and vitamins; and a night cream that contains liposomally delivered antioxidants, vitamins, botanicals, and peptides.

Wattles are not inherited signs of aging. Even if your mother and grandmothers have wattles, this does not mean you are doomed to have one. You can prevent one, or if you already have one beginning, you can stop it from progressing.

*Image 1 from Flowers Gallery; image 2 from Matthew A Everett; images 3,5 from the ASCP

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3 thoughts on “Anti-Aging Strategies: How to Prevent the Wattle”

  1. I like that you went into detail about the proper way to apply face products onto your face and neck. I had no idea I was applying the “less effective” way.

    Whitney, Philadelphia

  2. Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us
    so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and superb design and

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