Whenever you hold your smartphone in your hand, you might wonder how you ever got through life without it. It’s difficult to remember a time when you couldn’t check your email wherever you were or look at cute photos of cats anytime you wanted. While the benefits of a smartphone are numerous, using one frequently does have its drawbacks. It’s possible that your trusty smartphone is making you look older than your years, and not only because the front-facing camera isn’t so great. How you use a smartphone can have impact on how your look.
You see it everywhere — people with their heads tipped slightly forward, staring intently at the screen on their smartphones. Whether they are reading text messages or scrolling through their preferred social media feed doesn’t matter. What matters is the increase in movement in the neck area can lead to an increase in wrinkles and skin looseness.
When you bend your neck forward to look at a phone’s screen, you’re relaxing the muscles in that area. Keep the muscles relaxed for some time (the average person uses a smartphone for about three hours a day) can lead to a loss of tone and more sagging and drooping with time. Since the skin on the neck tends to be think, tipping the neck forward frequently can lead to the development of creases and wrinkles. Aging in the neck area due to phone is use often called "tech neck."
While reducing the amount of time you spend on your phone can help, you don’t have to give up Instagram or text messages entirely. Surgical treatments, such as a neck lift, can help reduce the signs of aging in the neck area, too.
A neck lift involves tightening the skin and muscle in the neck area. If extra fat in the area is a concern, too, the procedure can also include liposuction to remove the excess fat in the area, creating a more toned and smooth look. Along with surgery, making sure to protect the neck, by wearing sunscreen, and using products that moisturize the skin of the neck, can also help it look more youthful.
Crow’s Feet and Frown Lines
Is the text on the screen of your smartphone hard to read? If you find yourself squinting or furrowing your brow while trying to read what’s on the screen of your phone, you can end up with more deeply etched crow’s feet by the corners of your eyes or frown lines between your eyebrows.
There are a few ways to keep yourself from squinting and furrowing when look at your phone. One simple option is to increase the size of the text on the screen, making it easier to read. Another option is to save long articles or major social media sessions for times when you’re on a laptop or a device with a larger screen.
As for the lines that might have already formed, you’re not stuck with them. Injections of either Botox or Dysport will temporarily minimize and reduce the appearance of the crow’s feet or frown lines. The injectables work by preventing certain nerves from communicating with certain muscles. Results typically last about three months, and you can repeat them, if desired.
Loss of Sleep
Staring at a brightly lit screen all day and into the evening can disrupt your sleep cycle, leading to a loss of sleep. The blue light of a smartphone screen can depress the hormone melatonin, which plays a big role in how well you fall asleep.
Not getting enough sleep each night has a negative effect on your skin, as people who don’t get sufficient sleep are more likely to show signs of aging on the skin. One way to minimize the effect your phone is having on your sleep cycle is to limit how much you use it in the evening. Pack away the phone a few hours before bedtime and try to avoid any other screen use, as well. Instead of reading an article or blog post on your phone, try reading a book or magazine, for example.
Your smartphone is not the cleanest surface in the world, yet it might be something you hold up against your face on a regular basis. The dirt and bacteria on your phone can travel to your face, leading to blemishes and acne. If you are noticing more pimples and spots on your face, along with talking to a facial plastic surgeon about the best way to treat them, one thing to do is to switch to using a hands-free device when you talk on your phone. A pair of earbuds is a lot cleaner than holding your phone to your face.
If you’re concerned about what your phone is doing to your skin or if you’re worried that your smartphone use is leading to tech neck or crow’s feet, speaking with a board certified, facial plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Jessica Kulak at the Naderi Center, is a great first step. Dr. Kulak can recommend treatments for you to minimize the signs of aging related to phone use. To schedule an appointment with her, call (703) 481-0002 to reach the practice in Virginia, or (301) 222-2020 for the practice in Maryland.