What Is Tech Neck… And Why You Need To Make These Changes!
There’s a new buzzword fluttering across the web, and we’re dead set on getting to the bottom of it. The buzzword du jour is “tech neck” – AKA the series of side effects that tend to occur from repeatedly looked down at our phone, tablet, or laptop. Which we do. A lot. In fact, according to King University on average we tap, swipe, and click on our phones over 2,600 times every. single. day.
Clearly, we are glued to our devices. But does it really make that much of an impact on our bodies? After all, we’ve been looking down at stuff since way before smartphones even existed. If there is something to this whole “tech neck” thing, then what’s the best way to prevent, treat, and conquer? For the answer to all those questions – and more – we reached out to two medical pros.
What Is Tech Neck?
Back in the old days we mostly maintained a neutral position throughout the day, but that’s 100% changed.
“We have all developed a bad habit of looking down at our phones. This causes many problems, including skin bunching and creases, neck and shoulder pain, and even abnormal curvature of our cervical [neck] skin in a hunchback position called cervical kyphosis,” explains Dr. David Shafer, a double board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “[These symptoms] develop due to poor posture reinforced by repeatedly looking down for long periods of time.”
In other words, tech neck goes far beyond aesthetics; those tell-tale wrinkles are just the tip of the iceberg. You can even consider them a warning sign that your posture is being neglected.
“If you have new horizontal lines, or the lines are deeper than [they were] before, you likely are making this issue worse,” says Dr. Jessica Wright, owner and operator of Rejuvenate Austin. “Lines naturally worsen over time, but they shouldn’t change over six to eight months. If yours have worsened in a similar time frame, you are likely reinforcing those lines by flexing the neck.”
Some additional signs you’re dealing with tech neck include having a hunchback or forward curvature of your neck, says Dr. Shafer. This might not be super obvious but looking at images of yourself from the past and comparing to current can help you see the difference if there is one. Neck or upper back pain is another sign – and not a fun one to deal with.
How To Prevent Tech Neck
If the tech neck culprit is constantly looking down at your device, then prevention means not doing that. It might sound impossible in this smartphone-driven world, but it can be done!
For starters, Dr. Shafer says you can try holding your phone up level with your eyes instead of bending your neck to look down. It might take some getting used to, but with time you can make this a habit you don’t think twice about.
“You can also purchase a phone mount to elevate your phone. I personally have a charger that holds the phone in the upward position so I can look forward at my phone instead of down,” says Dr. Shafer. “Finally, try using your computer instead of your phone. You can also use voice recognition to type for you, or Siri to search for you instead of looking down to type into your phone so much.”
Speaking aesthetically, there are some things you can do that can also help prevent the formation of neck wrinkles. Dr. Wright says you can start by always applying your serums, creams, and retinol products to your neck as well as your face. Retinol is particularly helpful since it stimulates collagen production.
She adds that you can even invest in in-office procedures that stimulate collagen in that area, such as Ultherapy, microneedling, lasers, and radiofrequency. You’ll want to discuss these options with your doctor.
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How To Treat Tech Neck
Following the prevention techniques is step number one. From there, tech neck treatment is based on your particular concern
To ease tension and discomfort, incorporate stretching and/or a yoga regimen into your routine. This can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes every couple of hours to stretch your neck and re-calibrate. (This video from Mayo Clinic is helpful.) Regular massages can help, too. You can even administer them yourself, though an expert hand is usually better. In cases where your tech neck pain is ongoing and/or interfering with your life, seek guidance from your medical doctor.
If your concern is a curvature or hunchback, then you do have a few medical aesthetic treatment options to consider.
“Some patients develop a fat pocket over the cervical spine in response to the stress on the neck, and it is sometimes possible to liposuction the back of the neck to improve the contour,” explains Dr. Shafer. “A quick, 30-minute liposuction treatment can help make the neck and upper back appear straighter and less hunched.”
For loose or wrinkled skin treatments, he has a few recommendations. Radiofrequency treatments – such as NuEra or Thermage – can help tighten and smooth, while deep ultrasound treatments such as Ultherapy can help tighten deeper tissue.
Dr. Wright adds that filler can also provide a quick-fix treatment for tech neck. She specifically recommends Radiesse, a filler that has also been shown to help stimulate collagen production.
“[In my experience], most people need Radiesse injected as well as a collagen-stimulating device to really meet their expectations. My patients want that ‘wow’ effect on their before and after photos,” she says. “Therefore, I think combo therapy yields the best results. For example, I will start with Ultherapy and inject the Radiesse a few weeks later. If we need a tad more resurfacing, I’ll add a vampire facial and maybe a hyper dilute Radiesse treatment. Hyper dilute Radiesse is like skin tightening in a syringe!”
In extreme cases, Dr. Shafer says you can consider a surgical neck lift. To determine the best path forward for you, reach out to your doctor. Meanwhile, keep your posture in check, stretch often, and be good to yourself.