The sun, poor diet and stress can all wreak havoc on skin, but your tech can, too. The phenomenon is known as “tech neck,” a phrase that describes how people’s electronic devices could be causing the skin on their necks to sag.
The constant attention people pay to their cellphones and laptops and tablets does come with consequences, Dr. Harold Lancer, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, said.
“Anything that's electronic captures your attention and you have to bend your neck, you're just ruining the neck muscles,” Lancer told “Good Morning America.”
Lancer likened the neck muscles to the wires in a suspension bridge, such as the Golden Gate Bridge.
“If you're always looking down, those wires are loose, they're not toned. So the muscles are loose, the skin on top of the muscles are loose. It gets all crinkly and wrinkly, and it looks bad,” he said.
Lancer says he has seeing more and more patients who complain of sagging neck skin. Many of those clients are younger than 40.
“Their main concern is, ‘Doc, I have a droopy neck,’ and they're 23 years old. ... So that sort of early concept of a turkey gobbler neck, droopiness, very common and it's triggered by always looking down,” he said. “Cellphones, all sorts of tablets, looking down at your computer screens all the time. This is such an electronic group that they're inducing early aging.”
One of Lancer’s patients is Jennifer Gordon, who was concerned that her neck is showing signs of early aging.
The Los Angeles woman, 38, was in bed with her husband one night, she said, when she realized her neck was droopy, and she believes her use of the devices is partly to blame.
“Well, actually we were lying in bed and I was looking down at my iPad, like I normally do. And I realized how often I'm doing that, and that I see a big difference in my neck,” she told "GMA,” adding: “I see a lot of hanging and sagging.”
Lancer says prevention is key. It’s important to keep the skin of the neck out of the sun and to keep it well moisturized.
“You have to keep applying something that has a retinoid in it, a glycolic acid, salicylic acid, something that stimulates skin repair,” he said.
Lancer also said the way people sleep is important.
“Think about it. When you're all crunched up in sort of like the fetal position, sleeping, this neck tissue's all crunched up with it,” he said. “So it's to an advantage to stretch the head back with a round pillow underneath the neck, sort of extending the neck.”
If it’s too late for prevention and a cure is needed, there are noninvasive procedures that can improve the appearance of the sagging skin.
In the Venus Legacy treatment, fractionated radio waves use deep, penetrating heat to stimulate the skin to repair itself. It can even tighten neck muscles, Lancer said.
After the treatment is done, there will be a little bit of tissue swelling that will subside within a day or two. The skin then begins to repair itself. Lancer said it can sometimes take up to three months to see a result.
The treatment -- which can also be used on the cleavage line, jawline and cheek line -- does require maintenance, Lancer said.
Abbie Boudreau of “GMA” got a demonstration of the procedure at no cost, but it’s not cheap. The treatment will run between $700 to $1,000 per session, and it’s popular among Lancer’s celebrity clients.
“I can tell you that -- oh, probably, probably at the Golden Globes that just passed, at the Golden Globes we probably had at least a dozen people on the red carpet who had this specific treatment done,” he said.
“It's nonsurgical, it's noninvasive. It doesn't have a recovery time. And it's what we call seamless. There's no way to detect that it was done except to marvel at the fact that it works.”