As “tech neck”—those fine lines and wrinkles that form from hunching over your smartphone—persists, Philadelphians are turning to new treatments for this modern beauty problem.
It’s no secret that your phone’s camera filters can hide a multitude of cosmetic sins, from sunburn to dark circles to acne. But you may have noticed that it’s trickier to soften the fine lines and sagging skin forming on your neck. You’re not the only one, according to some of Philadelphia’s top plastic surgeons and skincare experts, who attribute this new obsession with having a flawless neck to, well, the age of selfies.
“By taking so many selfies, people see themselves in a really bad position,” says Steven Davis, DO (1916 Rte. 70 East, Cherry Hill, 856-424-1700). “They’re leaning forward, and all the gravitational aspects, in terms of f laws that you see on your face, are going to happen, no matter your age.” While smartphones have made us more aware of neck imperfections, they might also be the cause of them. Some are calling the condition “tech neck”—the result of over-stressing the neck’s thin skin, muscles, and joints by constantly looking down at your phone.
“I’m certain that the misuse of our necks, which is what all of our craning and straining really is, adds to the speed with which our necks age and deteriorate,” says Naomi Fenlin, owner of AboutFace Skincare (1015 Chestnut St., Suite 1205, 215-923-5001). Though less convinced of a definitive reason, other professionals are noticing an uptick in treatments. “I don’t necessarily think that extra texting is causing more wrinkles,” says Louis Bucky, MD, FACS, chief of plastic surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital (Multiple locations, 215-323-5000). “I think we’re more aware of [the state of our necks] because we’re spending so much time in that [downward-facing] position.”
Whatever your school of thought, the proof is still in the selfies. But, luckily, there are many treatments available to cure your neck woes. Radiofrequency energy is a minimally invasive way to firm things up. “It actually causes the dermis—the under part of the skin—to remodel,” Dr. Davis says. “As it cools, it becomes a tighter version of itself.”
Penn Medicine’s Ivona Percec, MD (23 Morris Ave., Bryn Mawr, 610-902-5612), concurs. “Lasers and other energy-based devices, such as radiofrequency or ultrasound, work by releasing energy to stimulate collagen in the skin of the neck,” she says, “which results in skin-tightening and softening of wrinkles.”
Some doctors turn to Kybella, which Dr. Bucky says is “kind of like a liposuction for the neck.” The injectable eliminates a double chin by dissolving fat permanently—as long as the patient does not regain the lost weight. Botox is an option, too: AboutFace offers the Nefertiti Lift, which targets the platysmal bands, the two lines running from the chin to the collarbone, and the circumferential lines around the neck—sometimes called “necklace lines”—with injections.
Dr. Percec also uses Botox as a treatment for the platysma muscle. “With time, those bands get loose and become much more prominent,” she says. “Botox on the edges of those muscles softens them.” A skincare regimen developed by your doctor can also help. The newest, Nectifirm, was developed specifically for the neck area and uses a cocktail of peptides and antioxidants to firm up skin.
There’s little chance you’ll scroll through e-mails or Instagram any less, no matter how many fine lines form, but now you can go to your doctor’s office and talk about the best treatments—with your head held high, of course.