I was barely 26 years old when I noticed them for the first time: faint bands circling my neck, no doubt the result of the time spent hunched over my phone and laptop throughout the day. Now, just a couple of years later, figuring out how to tighten my neck skin feels all the more urgent. Apparently, I’m not alone: Treatments targeting the neck and jawline are indeed on the rise, and experts agree that much of this can indeed be traced back to our collective screen time.
“There has been a lot of talk about ‘tech neck’ for the past few years,” says Corey Hartman, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, and founder and medical director of Skin Wellness Dermatology℠ in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s because our use of phones, computers, and other digital devices is at an all-time high. “This is causing us to hold our heads and necks in uncomfortable positions that put undue pressure on our spines and cause our skin to develop wrinkles secondary to the creased nature of the skin in that area.”
And as I’ve learned firsthand, age doesn’t make us immune. “This constant hunching over screens is leading to a surge in patients, especially the younger generations,” says T.Y. Steven Ip, MD, FACS, bi-coastal board-certified plastic surgeon.
Furthermore, most of us have a tendency to neglect that area with proper skincare. (Even as a longtime beauty editor, the only product that consistently touches my neck is foundation — blasphemy, I know.) Unfortunately, this only makes the effects of “tech neck” all the more noticeable, says Dr. Hartman. “Neck skin, like the eyelids, is thin,” he explains, which means the area is more susceptible to premature aging. “Women can often tell their ages by their necks, but most patients don’t start applying specialized creams to the neck to provide [added] moisture until it’s too late and they start to see lines and wrinkles.”
Starting to bring neck creams into my skincare rotation is something that many of us can commit to — but I can’t necessarily say the same for cutting back on my screen habits. Luckily, if you’re wondering how to tighten neck skin without going on a full-fledged digital detox, the latest crop of neck and jaw treatments might just make it look like you’ve never sent a text in your life. Keep reading to discover your options, from in-office procedures to at-home formulas.
As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
Neck-Tightening Tip #1: Radiofrequency and ultrasound treatments offer a one-two punch for tightening neck skin.
According to Estee Williams, MD, a board-certified medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatologist based in New York City, there are two options on the market when it comes to tightening skin: radiofrequency and ultrasound. These two types of treatments have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, as they’re non-invasive options that deliver very noticeable (and often long-lasting) results.
They get the job done in very similar ways: Radiofrequency uses tiny electromagnetic waves to target the deepest layers of the skin, while Ultherapy® uses ultrasound technology to do the very same. In other words, these technologies use different kinds of energies for the same, skin-rejuvenating result.
There’s one treatment that combines the two, which happens to be Dr. Hartman’s go-to for preventing and treating sagging neck skin. “My go-to is Exilis® RF Ultrasound,” he says. “It is a lunchtime procedure with minimal discomfort and zero downtime.” (Just note that for maximum results, you’ll need to return for multiple treatments.)
Neck-Tightening Tip #2: Consider bringing microneedling into the mix.
True story: Dr. Hartman spent three years seeking out a treatment that would deliver the results of a neck lift in a one-time procedure. The “game-changer” result of that search is ProfoundTM Fractionated Radiofrequency with Microneedling. If you know anything about microneedling (or own a derma-roller), you might be aware that this technique stimulates collagen production and cell turnover by creating micro-injuries in the skin with tiny needles. But radiofrequency microneedling takes this a step further, by applying radiofrequency energy deep into the skin’s layers — combining forces to amplify that tightening effect even more.
“While there is about a week of swelling and possible bruising, this one-time treatment delivers neck lift results with no surgery,” says Dr. Hartman. “It increases collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid levels, and boasts a 100 percent response rate.” And, if you’re also looking to tighten your jawline, this treatment might just serve as your ultimate one-stop shop.
Neck-Tightening Tip #3: Profound FR isn’t the only emerging technology to consider.
Because of demand, the market is starting to be flooded with a flurry of devices designed to address the neck and jawline, and according to Dr. Hartman, many of them are based on radiofrequency technology. Profound FR isn’t the only one that utilizes microneedling, Morpheus® 8, Secret RF®, Vivace®, and INTRAcelTM are all solid radiofrequency microneedling treatments that your go-to practitioner might offer.
There are a couple of other new options to note, too. One includes JVR® Dermal Thickening. This applies kinetic energy and hyaluronic acid via a tiny entry point in the skin, helping to smooth out wrinkles, stimulate collagen reproduction, remodel scar tissue, and target other imperfections. Basically, the treatment thickens the skin to help correct any sagging, which allows this technique to function as a non-surgical face lift.
Then there’s High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Field, or HIFEM, a device that uses a unique kind of wave to evenly apply heat into the deepest layers of your skin — increasing metabolism and contracting collagen fibers in one go. “This contraction stimulates the formation of new collagen, tightening the skin,” Dr. Hartman explains.
Neck-Tightening Tip #4: Don’t forget about your jawline.
“Tech neck” doesn’t just impact your neck skin! As you peer down at your phone day after day, a sharp jawline is another common casualty. For what it’s worth, I’ve personally had a lot of luck tightening up my own jawline with the help of FORMATM. This ultrasound therapy treatment uses heat to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin for a lasting tightening effect. It took a few treatments, but I knew it was all worth it when I started to see the impact in photos. (And when I’m feeling a little saggy from a night out or a lack of sleep, I use my NuFace® microcurrent device, $325, for an instant pick-me-up.)
Neck-Tightening Tip #5: Consider a more invasive (but longer-lasting) approach.
Surgical fat removal is still an expert-recommended way to go. “In my opinion, anyone with a prominent double chin who wants guaranteed improvement should be referred to a plastic surgeon for a liposuction consultation,” says Dr. Williams.
On the other hand, if sagging and elasticity are your main issues, then you might opt for a mini lift, says Dr. Ip. “I have coined a special in-office procedure, the 'Tech Neck Tuck,’ which is a mini neck lift that can be done under local sedation and takes only a couple of hours,” he explains. “By pinching skin from the sides of the neck, I can tighten and give a little lift, which gets rid of lines and creases.” He notes that all of the incisions are made behind the ear or on the hairline, making them very discreet.
You should keep in mind that for both of these procedures, the downtime is still more significant than, say, ultrasound or radiofrequency. But if you’re looking for more permanent results, then these are options worth discussing with your practitioner.
Neck-Tightening Tip #6: Don’t forget about at-home care.
Say it with us: Prevention, prevention, prevention. Again, I’ll be the first to contend that it is absolutely unreasonable to expect that any of us cut back significantly on our digital habits — especially in a world that only continues to pull us deeper into the internet. But, it might serve you well to notice when you’ve spent several minutes hunched over your phone, and sit up a little straighter. Or, you might invest in a laptop stand for your desk at work, so that your screen is eye level — a trick that has helped me out a lot in recent months.
Aside from rethinking your tech posture, Dr. Hartman recommends Sio® SkinPads ($30), which are silicone sheets that help smooth out skin and prevent folds while you sleep.“ Jade rollers also remain a popular, inexpensive option that can help to maintain results between office-based procedures,” he adds. And, of course, don’t forget the neck cream, preferably medical-grade and applied regularly. Discover some of our favorite creams and serums for treating the neck here.
If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor before using a gua sha or rolling tool.