The term ‘Tech Neck’ was originally used to describe the pain and stiffness in the neck from the prolonged and repeated use of digital devices. Biomechanical problems from using devices such as mobile phones, iPads and computer screens are not surprising. Especially when you consider studies show that on average people check their phone 80 times a day and that most are on a device for at least 4 hours/day!
The ’Tech Neck’ term is also being used in cosmetic medicine to describe the horizontal lines and wrinkles that increasing numbers of patients are noticing across the front of their neck. Whilst neck lines are part of the natural ageing process, at the Collins Cosmetic Clinic we are seeing more and more younger patients concerned with these lines. Every day we have patients telling us “I hate my neck”.
It seems the constant and repeated bending of the head downwards to look at phones and screens has if not directly caused, certainly contributed to the early development of neck lines. The repeated neck flexion while using digital devices seems to impact skin quality, similar to how repeated frowning and squinting causes lines to develop earlier around the eyes. Some experts have even suggested that blue light emission from devices themselves might also contribute to premature skin ageing of the face and neck by causing oxidative stress damage!
The other factor is that patients themselves are becoming more aware and noticing these neck lines earlier as well. The self-scrutiny from taking selfies and for many daily ZOOM meetings, has resulted in people becoming much more conscious of these lines and hence seeking ways to improve them.
Get the Basics right first
If neck lines are attributed to repeated neck flexion, then it makes sense to minimise this movement by attention to how you position devices, so you are not constantly looking down. Exercises to extend your neck in the opposite direction e.g., ‘upward facing dog’ stretch might help. Also consider how you are sleeping and consider trying one thin pillow, so your neck remains in a neutral position overnight. If you sleep with multiple pillows your neck can be bent all night and worsen neck lines. Remember we spend a third of our life sleeping!
We know that neck lines are not just from device use but are also being caused by skin ageing and UV damage. The neck is very susceptible to UV damage and like the chest and hands, is often an area neglected with sun protection. The application of daily sunscreen (broad spectrum SPF 50+) to the neck is important if you want to slow down the development of neck lines.
Just as on the face basic skincare with a daily gentle cleanser and moisturiser is important on the neck region. A topical retinol can help with cell regeneration, collagen production and promoting skin elasticity but because of skin sensitivity on the neck if using a prescription retinoid, we recommend a weaker strength. If you have sensitive skin, using a sandwich technique combining the retinoid and a moisturiser is best. There are some very good specific neck creams that can be tried as well which contain antioxidants and/or peptides that might help slow the development of neck lines.
Treatments can help but choice is important
We have several effective treatments for neck lines at the Collins Cosmetic Clinic. The best choice depends on the extent and severity of the lines and what else is going on with your skin. For early neck lines LED treatments using red light can help but repeated regular treatments are needed. For more established and deeper neck lines devices such as the TIXEL or the INFINI can help. If there is a combination of sun damage and neck lines, then the FRAXEL laser can be a great choice to tackle both problems at the same time. If there is a lot of skin laxity, then mono threads can be used as part of a Threadlift procedure on the neck as well as the face.
Injectables are often the treatment of choice for neck lines in many patients. If your neck lines are associated with a thickened platysma muscle (the thin muscle that covers a large part of our neck) small injections of anti-wrinkle injections can be the answer. If there is a double chin as well as neck lines, then treatments to dissolve the fat can be necessary for the best result. If skin quality is an issue, then the use of superficial dermal fillers as a ‘skin booster’ can be a good option. When there is a loss of volume in the neck area then ‘biostimulator’ fillers can be the best approach as they can give long term improvement.
What has recently changed in the treatment of neck lines is that a new dermal filler injection has just been released in Australia. This may well be a game changer in terms of results, for not only neck lines but lines and wrinkles everywhere. This new product combines both a high and low molecular weight filler together. Instead of just adding volume to a specific area like other fillers, this new product distributes evenly to give an overall smoother appearance to ageing skin. Studies show this new product can restore skin firmness and elasticity, significantly reduce wrinkles, and improve skin hydration. The treatment protocol is 2 sessions 30 days apart then a follow up in 1-2 years. The treatment has minimal downtime, results are both short- and long-term and this is the most exciting development in fillers for many years.
At the Collins Cosmetic Clinic whilst the focus for most patients is rejuvenation and anti-ageing treatments for the face, we are seeing increasing numbers of patients asking us about what can be done for neck lines. The good news is neck lines in most patients can be treated very effectively, and amongst various treatments a new dermal filler product is showing great promise. If you have any questions about neck lines and treatment options, feel free to contact our rooms by phone on 03 9654 5720 or email firstname.lastname@example.org