Cleavage is the cleft created by the partial exposure of a woman’s breast, especially when exposed by low-cut clothing.
The neckline of a garment that exposes cleavage is known as décolletage (or décolleté in current French).
Exposure of the underside of the breast, such as below an extremely short crop top, is known as “reverse cleavage” (also Australian cleavage, or neathage), and exposure of the side of the breast is referred to as “side cleavage”.
So, what is so important about cleavage?
From an evolutionary perspective, a woman’s permanently enlarged breasts were thought to allow women to attract male attention even when they were not really fertile.
Other primates, in contrast, develop enlargement of the breast only during ovulation, an obvious sign of their fertility.
From a social perspective, the treatment of this portion of a woman’s anatomy has been the most significant of all fashion trends that have ever graced the covers of fashion magazines and fashion runways alike.
So what does this have to do with plastic surgery?
The trend to model the décolletage in clothing styles has resulted in considerably more exposure of the chest and neck to the “external elements”, most importantly, ultraviolet radiation from years of sun exposure.
Combine this with the natural effects of aging on our skin, and before long, we start to become a little concerned about the appearance of the décolletage.
Often, there are signs of hyper pigmentation, including age spots and freckles, as well as the inevitable fine lines and wrinkles that start to appear with aging.
As the décolletage is not an area where surgical intervention or medical lasers have had much success, we have come to rely on topical treatments to help rejuvenate these areas.
For instance, the Obagi Elastiderm Décolletage System uses a unique and efficacious technology which allows a two-step application (morning and night) of specialized creams that provide greater penetration of its active ingredients to stimulate functional elasticity, and improve skin resiliency by eliminating the dry, hyperpigmented skin we see with long term sun exposure.
With continuing use of this system, one can replenish the skins elasticity, and build healthy collagen in the chest and neck areas, as well as eliminate the freckled, hyperpigmented spots that are a tell-tall sign of aging.
In cases where patients wish to have a faster response to interventions in this area, a chemical peel can be employed to “jump start” the repair process, and facilitate a more rapid response to the 2 step Obagi Décolletage maintenance program.
In cases where years of sun exposure may have resulted in pre-cancerous skin changes,
the system can incorporate prescription strength vitamin A cream, to further enhance the repair of advance skin damage.
Fortunately, programs such as the Obagi system, which have been specifically designed to not only improve skin health, but also to help eliminate pre-cancerous skin lesions, will allow women to continue to appreciate the attractiveness of a youthful décolletage.
Bahamas Institute of Plastic Surgery