Our smartphones and tablets might help us with tasks in our day to day lives, but they aren’t helping us fight aging. The use of these technologies could be giving you some brand new wrinkles known as “text neck”.
The term was originally used to reference the pain and numbness caused by constantly having your head tilted forward, but now doctors are referring to it as the horizontal wrinkle that forms on the middle of the front of your neck. Of course, you’ve probably been looking down for more than just texting and scrolling through social media (to read a book, for example – remember those?). The problem is that, nowadays, we are constantly bending our necks to look down, whether it’s to type or to scroll through our phones and tablets.
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“If you think about it, if you’re folding your neck down, you’re creating a folding of that area,” Dr. Samer Jaber of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City told Huffington Post. “That’s what creates those lines.”
Dr. Andrew Ordon, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, explained that if you’re bending at the neck frequently enough, you could develop permanent wrinkles.
They both say that they see more and more patients coming in with concerns about these “text neck” wrinkles. They believe it has something to do with society’s obsessions with social media and selfies in addition to the constant downward neck.
“People are taking more selfies, so they actually notice it more in pictures,” Jaber said.
“[People are] scrutinizing themselves more than ever and that’s driving our business,” Ordon added. “People want to look good in their pictures, so they’re coming in for Botox and fillers at an earlier age.”
Is “text neck” preventable?
Luckily, it is. The doctors say that an improvement in posture can help so you don’t look down as often. “Try to move your head and straighten your neck out. Try not to stay in that flexed position for too long,” Ordon said.
Your neck skin is just as important as the skin on your face and should be treated as such. Apply a moisturizer and wear sunscreen, and maybe even apply a retinol cream. “I would put on a vitamin C serum in the morning, making sure you use a lot of sunscreen, and you could also certainly do a retinol cream at night,” said Jaber. “You just have to be careful with the neck, because it can be a little more sensitive than the face.”
What if you already have it?
Whether it’s too late to prevent or you just want to bring in the professionals for help, you have a few options. Botox can help soften the muscles in the neck, while filler can be injected to fill the lines and make them far less visible. Skin-tightening treatments, such as Ultherapy, or radio frequency laser treatments that can reduce the look of wrinkles, and are also minimally-invasive options. Ordon mentioned that surgical neck lifts could be an option, but said those procedures can only help “to a certain degree.”
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When it comes to creams and masks, both doctors agreed you won’t get the same results as the fillers or laser treatments, and that you’re better off spending your money on wearing sunscreen every day and getting laser of filler treatments.
“I’m sure it probably makes your skin look more moisturized, which may make it look less noticeable, but I don’t think it’s going to make a dramatic difference,” said Jaber.
The easiest thing to do, for both our beauty and our brains, is to take some much-needed breaks from our devices. Or, better yet, just don’t worry about wrinkles…they just mean you’re wise, right?