It may be time to update that old joke about the horse walking into a bar — "Why the long face?" asks the bartender — and give it a digital twist. Our growing reliance on smartphones and laptops is elongating our faces into jowly, sagging messes, according to cosmetic surgeons and other beauty pundits. They've even come up with a suitably distressing name for this phenomenon: "Smartphone face." Here's what you need to know about the alleged phenomenon:
What exactly is "smartphone face"?
Apparently coined by British cosmetic surgeon Dr. Mervyn Patterson, the term describes a combination of sagging jowls, double chins, and "marionette lines," those vertical creases that run from the corners of the mouth towards the chin. As Patterson explains to the London Evening Standard, "If you sit for hours with your head bent slightly forward, staring at your iPhone or laptop screen, you may shorten the neck muscles and increase the gravitational pull on the jowl area, leading to a drooping jawline." The name also works on another level; face sag becomes especially noticeable when you take photos of yourself or video-chat on your portable device.
Is this a real thing?
The surprisingly rapid rise in "chinplants" and other jaw-focused cosmetic surgery certainly is. And it wouldn't be the first time smartphones have been blamed for ruining our health, our sleep, our relationships — or even for speeding us toward our death. Still, most symptoms of smartphone face can be attributed to genetics, the natural ravages of age, and weight fluctuations. For instance, as British doctor Nick Lowe tells the London Evening Standard, "People who jog and diet lose volume from their faces and their skin can become saggy and loose, especially around the chin area."
How do you fix smartphone face?
Options include a range of cosmetic "chinterventions," says the Evening Standard's Leah Hardy. While a chin implant will typically set you back $7,000, you can also firm up your jawline with less-invasive techniques such as injections of chin-sculpting filler ($950), special Botox treatments, ($550), skin-tightening radiofrequency waves ($4,800), liposuction/laser facelifts ($4,100), or the PY Neckline Trainer ($50), a "home gym for your chin." Or, if you want to save a wad of cash, how about keeping your chin up "when you text or stare into your smartphone," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News. "No need to thank me. My pleasure. You look beautiful."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Why the poor can't catch a break on Thanksgiving
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
Subscribe to the Week