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What to do About Cleavage Wrinkles and Creases

By Debra Jaliman, MDAugust 24, 2011
From the WebMD Archives

The New York Times recently published an article on products, some of which sound rather ingenious, that help fight cleavage wrinkles. The problem with this article though, is that it has some significant omissions that I’d like to discuss here for the benefit of readers, young and old, who have noticed wrinkles on their chest and between their breasts.

First of all, cleavage wrinkles and creases have little to do with breast size. Even young women with A-cup breasts may notice creases and wrinkles on their chests. The single most important factor is the amount of subcutaneous fat in the chest area. Thin people tend to be prone to cleavage wrinkles because they don’t have good structural support there. Some thin people are lucky in that sense, because they are more “meaty” in the chest, but they are the exceptions. I see a lot of actresses and models in my practice; because they try to stay thin for the camera, they are more prone to cleavage wrinkles than the rest of us. In short, this is one area where a little extra weight and padding is an advantage. Large breasts do tend to flop down during sleep, especially if you sleep on your side. A little extra support at night, like putting a small pillow or a foam roll, between the breasts, certainly can’t hurt, but it won’t erase wrinkles and creases that are already there.

Second, anyone who is prone to chest wrinkles and creases needs to use sunscreen on the cleavage every single day, preferably one with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, good UVA and UVB blockers. People often don’t realize that the skin on the chest is thinner and more delicate than the skin on the face and ages far more quickly. Unless you wear turtlenecks or shirts buttoned up to the throat, you need to apply sunscreen there. This is true for everyone, but especially for post-menopausal women, whose lower estrogen levels mean thinner skin and less oil gland production.

If cleavage wrinkles and creases bother you, go to a cosmetic dermatologist who can suggest effective treatments. Creams and serums containing retinoids (tretinoin and its weaker relative, retinol) can make a considerable difference, as can glycolic acid peels and microbrasion. However, for drastic improvement, lasers are the way to go. I suggest using non-ablative lasers which stimulate collagen production, such as Medlite or Fraxel. The advantage to using Medlite is that there is no downtime – no redness or swelling at all. Fraxel is stronger and will require fewer sessions, but it does inflame the skin and the redness persists for a couple of weeks. Both may require several sessions, depending on the amount of damage.

Now, I do take issue with the New York Times article on one point: it mentions using Juvederm, a very effective filler, on cleavage. I would never recommend using any type of filler near the breast. Fillers are expensive, a substantial amount is required (more than what is used on the face), and the injections have to be repeated every six months. Most importantly, fillers can show up on mammograms, making it difficult to read them accurately.

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