To prevent chest wrinkles, women have invented special bras and other devices.
Back when Lisa Barr wore a size 34B bra, she didn’t know about cleavage wrinkles. But soon after she got breast implants in 1999, augmenting her measurements to a 36C, she started waking up with thick lines on her chest where one breast had fallen against the other as she slept on her side.
“The wrinkles would stay even when I was getting dressed,” said Barr, 40, a litigation paralegal in Rochester. Nor did they diminish as the day progressed. She could not help wondering why she had gotten the implants if she was going to have to cover the areas around and above them.
The skin just below the neck can reveal a woman’s age and skin-care history just as easily as her hands can. Cleavage wrinkles are deep, vertical creases caused by hours spent sleeping on one’s side, where gravity forces the top breast to bend farther past the body’s midline than it should. The lines can also be caused by sports and push-up bras, which squash the breasts together and are often worn for hours.
Once the collagen in skin breaks down from age and sun exposure, those wrinkles tend to linger. And thanks to gravity, the generously endowed — whether naturally or surgically — tend to be more afflicted.
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“It is definitely something women complain about,” Dr. Tiffany Grunwald, a plastic surgeon in Santa Monica, Calif., wrote in an email. “Most of what we have to offer is skin care to try and plump up the skin. Unfortunately, there is not a good place to hide the scar from a ‘chest lift’ so we don’t do that.”
Barr tried applying moisturizer and vitamin E to her chest, and sleeping with a pair of socks between her breasts to keep them separated, but the socks would not stay in place. Then she found the Kush Support ($19.99), a contoured plastic cylinder that is “firm enough to support the breasts yet light enough you won’t feel it’s there,” said its inventor, Cathinka Chandler, 42. The device is placed between the breasts at night.
“When I got it, I thought, there’s no way this is going to work,” Barr said. “It didn’t even weigh two ounces.”
She tried it anyway. Within a few weeks, she said, both she and her boyfriend saw a reduction in lines on her chest.
Cleavage wrinkles had bothered Rachel de Boer, too. A former flight attendant who lives in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, de Boer, 50, noticed the lines on her chest in her 30s. Her solution was to invent La Decollette (about $73 from decollette.co.uk). It looks like a sports bra worn backward: a supportive racer-back swath of fabric — cotton or Lycra, in black, white or animal prints — is in the front.
The cleavage wrinkles problem is also being tackled close to Los Angeles, the unofficial capital of breast implants. Sheena Seegraves, who lives in Riverside, Calif., was 23 and a customer-service representative for a propane company when she noticed that her older female relatives had distressed décolletages. She created the ChestSavers bra ($56 to $78) to prevent them. The product resembles La Decollette, except that its cleavage panel is a swath of lace-covered fleece that comes with a removable foam insert, so that the garment will not absorb any moisturizer that may be on the chest. It comes in several styles, including one with cording-lined cups to wear during the day.
There is also the Intimia Pillow ($59.95), which is a doggie-bone-shaped piece of polyester and latex that works like the Kush Support but that has racer-back straps so that it does not move.
“A bra is uncomfortable to wear at night,” said Irene Komsky, 47, its inventor, who is a registered nurse in the Bay Area. “And a pillow will fall out when you turn over. You have to have a pillow that stays.”
These products are unconventional-looking, to say the least.
“A lot of the women describe it as kinky,” Seegraves said of her creation, with a laugh. “That’s another benefit.”
If kinky isn’t your thing, you could try the subtler Decollette Pads ($28.95 on decollettepads.com and $24.93 on Amazon.com): adhesive-free patches of medical-grade silicone that are placed on the chest at night. They are the invention of Camille Della Santina, 51, an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist from Sherman Oaks, Calif., who noticed that the silicone-based prosthetics she used on actors smoothed out wrinkles by drawing moisture to the surface.
But for one nonfiction writer who splits her time between New York and Los Angeles, pillows and pads were not enough.
“Few people would notice it,” she said of her cleavage wrinkles. “But I’m very conscious of nipping things in the bud.”
The woman, 55, who did not want to be identified because she considered the matter private, visited Danya Hoenig, a physician assistant in Beverly Hills, Calif., who works in the office of her husband, a plastic surgeon.
“All she needed was a syringe of Juvederm,” said Hoenig, 39, naming a product with hyaluronic acid that is often used to fill face wrinkles; it costs $550 to $700 per syringe. Hoenig told the writer the effects could last five months to a year. The first injection was in February, and the writer said she did not yet think she needed another.
“I don’t feel uncomfortable in a low-neck blouse anymore,” the woman said. “At a certain age, you see many women wearing camisoles under their V-necks to hide these wrinkles. I didn’t want to do that.”
Anti-aging advances being what they are, she and other women may not have to.
“I’m 50, and I have still wrinkle-free cleavage,” de Boer said. If she had not designed La Decollette, she said, “I’d have the cleavage of an 80-year-old.”
But how big a problem cleavage wrinkles are might also come down to perspective. As one flat-chested woman put it: “Some people would be so happy to have cleavage that they would never think to complain about the wrinkles that accompanied them.”