Your health: Sagging skin caused by staring down at devices

 
Posted4/28/2015 6:00 AM
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  • Is looking down at our electronic devices causing our necks to sag?

    Is looking down at our electronic devices causing our necks to sag? Getty Images

Tech neck: Skin sags from looking down

Like many women in their 50s, Noreen Sims feels she has to make that bit more of an effort these days if she's going to be happy with her reflection, the Daily Mail reports.

The 54-year-old teaching assistant spends several minutes every day and night massaging her face with moisturizer to plump up her skin.

But when she looks a few inches down, it's a different matter.

"It's the one part of my appearance that worries me the most. At least if you are overweight, you can diet, but there's only so much you can do to banish a saggy jawline or wrinkly neck."

Until recently, women didn't seem to worry about their neck until they were well into their 60s. But thanks to the rise of the computer and smartphones, which means we spend more time than ever looking downward as we tap away on our devices, gravity is taking effect on much younger women.

Dermatologists have even given it a name -- "tech neck."

"The problem of wrinkles and sagging jowls and neck used to begin in late middle age but, in the past 10 years, because of tech neck it has become a problem for a generation of younger women," says Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, consultant dermatologist at The London Clinic on Harley Street.

"Hours of using screens and tablets every day definitely have an effect. A woman's neck area is already vulnerable as it's more exposed to sun because of female fashion," he said. "As the sun repeatedly strikes the skin, it gradually melts the top layers of the dermis and becomes thinner."

This thinning of the skin leads to a loss of elasticity, so when the skin is creased over and over, due to bending the neck continuously, a wrinkle forms in the crease of the bend.'

Noreen is not alone in feeling self-conscious. Recent figures from whatClinic.com show that inquiries about neck liposuction rose by 280 percent last year.

Energy Injections: Is this the new coffee?

Spa days typically consist of massages and face masks -- but now some "wellness spas" are offering more on the menu. How about an energizing injection of vitamin B, rather than a rub down?

Launched by a group of board-certified physicians in 2012, Reviv Wellness, a self-described wellness spa offers a B12 Pure Energy Booster for $29, The Daily Beast reports. It's meant to replenish the body of this essential nutrient, yielding improvements in everything from energy to metabolism.

"I think of it as a combination of an Eastern philosophy of balance, compounded with Western medicine and Eastern medicine," says Reviv CEO Dr. Johnny Parvani, who has a background in emergency medicine. "When your body is adequately balanced, you function optimally, when you're off-balance, you don't. You're not as productive."

Skeeved out by the thought of getting a shot at the spa? Dr. David Zich, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, warns that any feel-good effects from these injections could be due to the placebo effect.

"When there is no proven benefit of doing it, it seems strange that people would subject themselves to any chance of harm," Zich says.

Are these "spa" shots safe? Experts agree that the risks of vitamin B12 are minimal. It's a water-soluble vitamin -- so if you receive too much, you'll simply pee it out.

However, Zich argues that most of the perceived benefits people are reporting from B12 injections might just be a placebo effect.

"Some are going to have a reaction to it that is not allergic, but will give you symptoms," Zich says, which could include anxiety, mild diarrhea, a temporary rash with itching or a sensation of swelling. Plus, if it turns out you're allergic to vitamin B (or anything else in one of these injections), you could suffer anaphylaxis, and even face a risk of death.

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