Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we interact. We're continuously gazing at screens, and more often than not, we're looking down when we do. As an unfortunate result, specialists are seeing more wrinkles around the neck - appropriately coined "tech neck." We had to get the scoop on this from board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Gregory Wiener:

So Dr. Wiener, what is tech neck?

Tech neck refers to the increase in neck wrinkles related to frequent and prolonged gazing down at smartphone devices.

What causes wrinkles on the neck and at what age do they usually appear?

Aging of the neck is naturally due to a decrease in the strength and elasticity of the skin as we age. The underlying muscle can also become weak with aging and fat can also accumulate in the neck. Environmental factors such as sun damage also contribute to the aging and wrinkling of the skin and smoking accelerates the process.

Looking down at a device for long periods of time may worsen things by accentuating creases or wrinkles, which are already developing. Seeing yourself on a device (like that little box that shows your image when you FaceTime with someone) may also make you acutely aware of these issues.

What kinds of procedures or treatments can help get rid of wrinkles?

A neck lift can smooth loose skin and restore a more youthful contour to the neck area. A non-invasive approach would be to use Ulthera, which is an FDA approved ultrasound procedure that visibly lifts, tightens and tones skin surrounding the neck and jowl areas. 

Is there pain involved? 

A neck lift can be performed using a local anesthetic and there is typically a small amount of bruising or swelling and minimal pain. The Ultherapy procedure uses ultrasound technology and some mild discomfort may be experienced during the delivery of the energy. It's a temporary discomfort.

Who is the ideal patient for this treatment?

A neck lift is ideal for patients with significant sagging and the heavier, deep-set wrinkles in their neck. Ulthera is ideal for patients who seek results but don't necessarily require a full on lift. Since this procedure can be performed during a simple office visit, it requires no downtime or recovery.

How long do he results last? Can the wrinkles come back?

A neck lift will typically last between 5 and 10 years, so patients may need more than one procedure in their lifetime, depending on their age at the time of the initial procedure. With Ulthera, the technology boosts collagen production so patients will continue to see improvement over the months following the procedure. The skin's elasticity will continue to improve, meaning the treated skin will look visibly tighter, younger and healthier.

Any additional tips for preventing neck wrinkles?

Avoiding neck issues begins with sun protection, not smoking, using a good exfoliant like retinol on a regular basis and moisturizing, and maybe holding the device up rather than down. In addition, unplug every once in a while! We don't need to be constantly attached to our phones and technology and this is a great reminder to turn those off every so often.

Thanks Dr. Wiener!