This Is What I Did to Undo the Years of Sun Damage on My Cleavage

When I was in my 20s, I liked doing what a lot of young people did: lie out by the pool for hours, my body slathered in Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil with the hope that I’d be my ultimate shade of bronze by the time I was done. To make matters worse, I skipped daily sun protection. That beauty commandment was not drilled into our brains back then as it is today. Now, I’m paying for the sins of the 20-year-old me. Sigh. In the past 10 years or so, I began noticing changes in my décolletage. Texture, wrinkles, red spots, and tiny, raised white bumps were now evident on my once soft, smooth chest. I figured it was a result of the carelessness I had with sun protection, and my habit of sleeping on my side contributed to my “sleep lines” and wrinkles. I tried everything from chemical and physical exfoliants, to wearing a silicone pad between my boobs at night. These types of treatments were effective but temporary.

There’s a line in I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections, Nora Ephron’s 2010 book of essays in which she describes some of the physical changes that can happen as we age: “Spots appear. Your cleavage looks like a peach pit.” Umm, not if I can help it, Nora! We’ve got fancy treatments these days! I booked a consultation with Jason Emer, MD a cosmetic dermatologist in Beverly Hills. He confirmed that I had redness, discoloration, and some scarring in my chest, all due to sun damage. “This is an area a lot of people used to neglect,” said Emer. “Their faces looked amazing because they treated that area, but everywhere else ended up looking older.” Lesson learned! A laser would help, he said, but a newer combination treatment, which had minimal downtime and was safe for my mixed Asian skin, would be a great option. 

“In the past, BBLs [broadband light therapies] were really painful,” said Emer. “They also were really high risk for Asian skin types, and mixed ethnicities, and the risk of developing hyperpigmentation or what we call ‘striping’ was really high.” This treatment was also ideal for me since I didn’t have as severe sun damage as someone much older might have. (Emer referred to doing this treatment before things get worse as pre-juvenation.)

What is BBL and Moxify? 

BBL and Moxify is a three-part, combination treatment pioneered by Emer that reduces sun damage, discoloration, redness, and wrinkles. It can also be used in other areas, such as the face and neck, and even elbows, and knees—all with less downtime than other laser treatments. It starts off with BBL Hero, which stands for Broadband Light High Energy Rapid Output, and is the newest, most advanced BBL light therapy on the market today. It uses different filters depending on the type of discoloration you have (red, brown) and is fast, treating the area with fast-pulsing high energy within seconds. 

The BBL Hero gets followed by Moxi, which is a non-ablative low-density laser used for skin resurfacing and deep stimulation of collagen but doesn’t have the downtime needed with more aggressive lasers, like Halo.

The final step is Emer’s Aerify Illuminating Mask, along with a daily skincare regimen from his Emerage Cosmetics line that I would follow for up to two weeks. Depending on how much sun damage there is, it could take several treatments for there to be a significant improvement. He says the first two treatments should be done closer together, like four to eight weeks apart, then possibly every three to four months. I was comped for this service, but it usually costs between $850 and $1200.

During the BBL and Moxify Treatment

On the day of my treatment, I didn’t have to do anything to prepare beforehand. A numbing solution was applied to my chest. Then came the first step: BBL Hero, which I could barely feel at first, but then started to feel a little warm. It lasted only a couple of minutes, but you could see the redness starting to come out of my skin. Next, it was time for the Moxi laser. This felt like mild stinging, or pinpricks, but still very minimal pain. I was given a small fan to blow cold air onto my chest as it began to feel hot by the end, similar to a sunburn. 

The Moxi resulted in tiny, swollen bumps which would serve as the “channels” for the skincare products to penetrate and be absorbed into the skin. The last step was applying the Aerify mask, which I would leave on for eight hours, then follow with the complete skincare regimen. (If you feel like watching the process in real-time, it was captured on both YouTube and Instagram.)

Post-Treatment

When I got home, my skin still had a burning sensation, but it dissipated after about 45 minutes. It was also super red, like a bad sunburn, but the skin already looked smoother. After eight hours, I washed off the mask and applied the Emerage Cosmetics Aerify Complexion Kit ($250), which consisted of a foaming polish that had ingredients like licorice root and jojoba, a vitamin C serum with blueberry, green tea, and other botanicals, retinol, and a moisturizer that contained squalene and marine sea whip. I also used Emer’s Re-Fit Face ($165), a serum containing growth factors, amino acids, and peptides. After cleansing, my chest burned a little and had some redness that oddly formed a butterfly shape on my chest (or maybe that was a phoenix rising?!). I would follow the skincare routine for the next couple of weeks, with the sad realization that I never treated my décolletage this well!

By the second and third day, the redness was significantly reduced, and the skin began feeling together. Then, on the fourth day, I began to experience a dull itch, and the skin started to peel. I also noticed the tiny dots were transforming into pin-sized scabs with an almost sandpaper-like texture. On the days that followed, my chest began to really itch and then peel. It was not cute, but I could already see an improvement in how the skin looked and felt, as it was much smoother. It ended up taking about a week and a half for my chest to finally finish peeling.

Final Thoughts

After two weeks post-treatment, I’d have to say I’m pretty happy with BBL and Moxify. I had a red patch I know was from a Palm Springs trip in 2009 that is much lighter than it was before. An acne scar on my boob that I had gotten during the past year (pandemic breakouts, can anyone relate?) is now less pronounced. But I knew that this would probably not be a one-and-done situation, and more treatments may be needed to see a significant change in my overall chest texture and wrinkles. In the meantime, I will never go a day without sunscreen and promise to only lay by the pool underneath a gigantic umbrella and wearing a turtleneck. As for sleeping on my side, J.Lo allegedly sleeps on her back surrounded by pillows to prevent wrinkles, so I guess that’s next on my list!

Products I Recommend for Treating Chest Wrinkles and Sun Damage

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