Tech neck: New smartphone side effect has more people heading to the doctor

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A newly identified side effect from using smartphones has people running to see a plastic surgeon.

Doctors report seeing a spike in patients, especially millennials, seeking treatment for an unsightly condition called “tech neck.”

“Early twenties -- I’m even getting patients coming in just because they’re constantly looking down,” said Dr. Alanna Fostyk at the Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Beachwood.

The term “tech neck” was coined several years ago and referred to sore muscles from looking down, but Dr. Fostyk says now it means something entirely different.

“It’s people coming in and referring to the horizontal lines on their neck,” said Dr. Fostyk, “Essentially because of social media, they’re obsessed with taking pictures and notice the lines.”

Studies show the average American adult spends over three-and-a-half hours a day on smartphones, laptops and tablets, and it’s more than twice that time for younger adults and teens-- in excess of nine hours a day.

Dr. Fostyk says the pressure from continually flexing the neck causes creases in an area already prone to wrinkles because the chin and neck naturally have less collagen.

It’s actually becoming such a concern for people of all ages that the beauty industry’s created a whole host of new products to combat the wrinkles that can range from $20 to over $300.

Revision Skincare launched an entire line called Nectifirm starting at $92 and SiO Beauty invented a product specifically called “Tech Neck.”

According to their website, it’s a clinically tested, “medical grade,” silicone patch that costs about $30, and will smooth and tighten skin when worn overnight .

“A daily moisturizer is important; sunscreen and retinols are really good,” said Dr. Fostyk. “It helps exfoliate the top layer of skin.”

There are also a number of outpatient procedures to help temporarily reduce the lines.

“Like a hyaluronic acid that is essentially a gel that helps plump up those lines, and then sometimes you’ll notice people have vertical neck lines that’s called your platysma muscle and you can actually put Botox in those,” said Dr. Fostyk.

Those treatments can range from $150 to several hundred dollars.

CO2 Fraxel laser treatments can cost $1,000 or more, but are supposed to give longer-lasting results by resurfacing the skin and triggering collagen production.

However, Dr. Fostyk says you don’t need to spend a ton of money to look better. There are simple things everyone can do right now.

“Good skincare, staying hydrated and a healthy diet are important, but having a nice posture and keeping your head up, holding the devices up at eye level will not only alleviate the tension, but also some of those lines,” said Dr. Fostyk.

She says you’ll look better and feel better, too.

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