Computer-face. I see it all the time. People with their heads pushed forward and down, staring at their smartphones. We are being changed by technology, and not in a good way. More and more people are coming into doctor’s offices complaining of neck pain or associated shoulder and lower back pain; and into spas seeking treatments of the neck and jowls.
Often, it stems from their habits of looking down at their mobile phones and computer screens. Health professionals have coined this problem as ‘tech neck.’
Your head is a fairly heavy object, weighing on average anywhere from 10 – 12 lbs. As the position of the head moves forward, the amount of stress placed on the neck muscles increases tremendously, and the rest of the body is forced to compensate. This results in the upper back pushing backward (hunching), and the hips moving forward (slouching). The result is excessive wear and tear on the spine, pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and arms. Essentially, the muscles on the back of your neck are getting over-stretched in this position, which weakens them so that they can no longer hold the head up properly.
In addition to musculoskeletal issues, ‘tech neck’ is also associated with premature aging of the skin of the neck. According to skin experts, “a constant downward gaze also contributes to further lines and creases around the chin and neck area.” The ‘tech-neck’ crease starts to be seen in people aged 18 to 39 who have an average of three digital devices and peer at their screens up to 150 times a day – accelerating the impact of gravity and natural loss of the skin’s elasticity. For more mature people, this just adds to the wrinkles we already have – yikes!
We are all aware that staring at a computer or our smart phones for hours on end throughout the day affects your posture, but did you know that this could also be triggering the development of fine lines and wrinkles along the neck and face? Staring down at our electronic devices long term has been seen to create the appearance of a sagging double chin, jowls, and other lines and winkles along the neck.
Dermatologists believe that this may be caused by the premature breakdown of collagen and elastin from the constant movement and muscle contraction required to look down at our screens. Though neck wrinkles are inevitable with age, there has been a rise in the younger population coming in concerned about correcting lines that have already formed, or preventing their appearance for as long as possible.
Often times, people will also find themselves squinting as they concentrate when they are working on their computers or tablets, which also leads to the formation of deep, defined creases along the forehead, around the eyes, and between the eyebrows (Eleven’s anyone?).
Let's throw-in a specific spectrum of blue-light that these devices emit, and that creates photo-damage similar to what happens from sun-damage. Consider wearing sunscreen when using these devices for long periods of time. Blue-light damage is bioaccumulative, just like sun-damage is, meaning the damage builds on itself.
What can be done? Be more conscious of your position and ergonomics. Take frequent breaks and stretch out the tension in your neck, and do exercises specific to strengthening your posture. Wear sunscreen on exposed areas of skin.
Are there physical treatments that can be done to correct the physical damage and damage from aging? Good health begins from within. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, and include anti-aging and free-radical scavenging supplements.
Topical actives can help maintain, but not reverse the cellular damage created within the live, growing cells of the skin. Proven actives encourage healthier, more prolific tissue growth, heal & protect the barrier. When the barrier or acid mantle is compromised, damage ensues. Microcurrent works with our own physiology mimicking the natural current which is in each and every cell of our body helping to stimulate new, healthy tissue growth, improve circulation, move lymph, and increase product absorption.
Red LED light (call for more information on our new full body unit) has also been proven by NASA and thousands of other clinical studies to heal tissue by stimulating natural cell growth & repair mechanisms, improve circulation, alleviate pain, and reduce inflammation (which damages cells).
In my opinion, anything that creates intentional damage to deeper tissue to supposedly create more healthy collagen, is unrealistic and may actually degrade tissue in the long run. Deep laser, radio-frequency, meso-therapy, IPL, and very deep ultrasound, heat the basement structures of the skin where the new cells are created. This thermal assault breaks down this natural process, causing an intentional damage in hopes the damage will stimulate "new collagen".
Sure, the body has to create new collagen to fix the damage, but in reality the body is only trying to heal itself recreating what was destroyed or injured. It doesn't really make extra collagen. It is the lower-inflammation creating microscopic inflammation that makes the skin seem (temporarily plumper).
Did you know that all types of inflammation can cause hyperpigmentation and increase pre-existing hyperpigmentation? Let me ask you this: if you have a damage from a repetitive motion injury, are you going to further damage that injury to in hopes make it heal better...?
Ligaments and tendons stretch out, and like skin, over-time lose their elasticity. With aging, muscles break-down, weaken, and atrophy. Here's a little science: One of the most striking effects of age is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, termed sarcopenia. Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60.
The etiology of sarcopenia is not clearly understood, but several mechanisms have been proposed. At the cellular level, specific age-related alterations include a reduction in muscle cell number, muscle twitch time and twitch force., sarcoplasmic reticulum volume and calcium pumping capacity.
New muscle growth spacing becomes disorganized, muscle nuclei become centralized along the muscle fiber, the plasma membrane of muscle becomes less excitable, and there is a significant increase in fat accumulation within and around the muscle cells. Neuromuscular (the brain-muscle connection) alterations include a decrease in: the nervous firing rate to muscle, the number of motor neurons, and the regenerative abilities of the nervous tissue. AKA: aging. Do what you can to slow down the degenerative effects of aging by taking care of your body.
Only neck surgery can make a true visible improvement, but it does not last a lifetime. The surgical treatments may include the following:
- Removing excess skin (cervicoplasty)
- Removing or altering neck muscles (platysmaplasty)
- Liposuction to remove excess fat
- Botox injections to address problems with "bands" often called "dog neck"
Drug injections of deoxycholic acid to break down fat by destroying the cell membrane. When injected into subcutaneous fat, this cytolytic drug does the same thing. Serious side effects have occurred, including facial muscle weakness, uneven smile, trouble swallowing, or nerve injury in the jaw.