Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD says many of her patients are suddenly concerned with the appearance of their neck—and FaceTime and Zoom meetings are largely to blame. “Between the standard angle of a computer or phone camera, the lighting used, plus the limited visibility, any lower-face or neck problems are now accentuated,” she explains.
Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD has also seen an uptick in patients looking to correct the area. “Spending hours on Zoom calls has us looking at our face for hours—and not static in photos, but in motion,” she adds. The result: “The laxity, drooping or movements from losses in collagen and elastin are literally looking back at us daily.”
Whether you’re noticing a more etched-in “tech neck” situation, jowls or a double chin, you’re not alone. Here, skin experts walk us through the science behind neck-related aging and the best course of action for turning back the clock.
Why Neck Aging Happens
Centennial, CO facial plastic surgeon Brent Smith, MD explains that, unfortunately, the skin on the neck does not have the same support and foundation as the skin on the face, and for one very good reason: “In order to facilitate movement of the neck and head, the neck skin has to be pliable and elastic,” he explains.
“As collagen and elastin become less evident throughout the aging process, this has an even greater effect on the skin of the neck. We still need enough skin to have full range of motion of the head, but with the loss of elastin, the skin does not snap back to its resting position and wrinkles become more prominent.”
Dr. Waldorf offers up another significant reason why the neck appears to age quicker than other areas. “Neck skin is often neglected, even by people who take care of their faces,” she says.
“We have this mentality that we should only fix skin problems once we see them instead of working hard to prevent them,” adds celebrity facialist Aida Bicaj. “The majority of people neglect their neck and chest areas and deal with hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles as a result.”
Additionally, the dreaded “tech neck” boils down to a single muscle in the neck. “The platysma muscle produces vertical bands and horizontal creases from pull on the skin. Bending the neck to move the head up and down creates wear and tear wrinkles in those creases, which are the so-called horizontal ‘necklace lines,’” explains Dr. Waldorf.
How to Anti-Age Your Neck at Home
Every expert agreed that the number-one thing we can do to help reverse aging on the neck is simply treating it the same way we do our face. “Extend all of your current topical products from your face to your décolleté,” instructs Dr. Waldorf. Bicaj notes that all products should be applied in firm, upward motions, being careful to not “drag” anything down the neck.
However, Dr. Waldorf explains that there’s a bit of a caveat when it comes to the neck: “It has fewer sebaceous follicles than the face,” she says, recommending applying anything potentially irritating, such as a retinoid, less often than you do on your face—every other night, rather than nightly, for example. “Otherwise, it’s like handwashing a delicate top but throwing the matching pants in the washer and dryer—they aren’t going to match.”
A no-cost way to help prevent tech neck: “Try to arrange your devices so you can work with your head elevated and neck straight to avoid aggravating necklace lines,” adds Dr. Waldorf. “Simply stopping hours of craning the neck—and adding 50 pounds of pressure pushing down on the tissues while working—can help improve the area and appearance of wrinkling,” adds Dr. Shamban.
Anti-Aging In-Office Options
Discoloration and Texture: For those with a combination of neck discoloration and texture issues, Dr. Waldorf’s go-to treatment is fractionated resurfacing with the Fraxel Dual, which she often combines with the VBeam laser for redness and the QsNd:YAG laser for darker brown spots.
Laxity: If slack, sagging skin is your main concern and you don’t want surgery, Dr. Waldorf says Ultherapy for multi-level collagen restoration is your best bet. “A series of three of four Fraxel treatments will also help treat laxity in the area,” she says. Hyperdiluted Radiesse as an injectable biostimulator is also recommended, and Dr. Waldorf notes minimally invasive Silhouette InstaLift is also helpful for treating laxity in the area.
Double Chin: When submental fat, aka a double chin, is prominent, Dr. Waldorf recommends freezing and naturally expelling the fat with CoolSculpting. Dr. Shamban favors Kybella for treating a double chin, which will dissolve the fat cells to improve the profile. If a weak profile is the problem—Dr. Shamban explains we lose bone as we age, resulting in a lack of balance—a series of filler will help enhance chin projection.
Tech Neck: To minimize necklace lines, Dr. Waldorf recommends a combination of biostimulatory fillers, botulinum toxin and superficial hyaluronic acid fillers such as Belotero. “Many patients benefit from botulinum toxin in the platysma—in the bands, at the insertion sites of the jaw or as micro-tox injections—to improve the way the skin drapes and reduce the progression,” she adds.
“The most significant results are achieved through a plastic surgery procedure,” says Dr. Smith, adding that the best procedure to address an aging neck would be a mini cheek and necklift. “Most often this, in combination with laser resurfacing, will provide the best results.”
A cheek and necklift addresses sagging and lack of volume by tightening up muscles and eliminating any fatty deposits and excess skin while restoring the underlying tissue back to a more youthful position.
The Bottom Line
Dr. Shamban puts it simply: “The neck is definitely the Cinderella to her half-sister, the face, who gets all the attention. But if taken care of properly, she can also be a bell of the ball!”