What’s Causing Saggy Skin and How Can You Treat It?
Wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin appear as we age, as a decrease in collagen and elastin leads to the skin losing its elasticity. Although saggy skin can appear anywhere on the body, it is most commonly spotted around the eyelids, jowls, chin, throat, upper arms, and stomach. Luckily, skincare today has evolved beyond cosmetic surgeries and there are several non-invasive options available for people, including exercise, massages, and firming products.
What causes sagging facial skin?
Aging leads to several changes in our physical appearance; unfortunately, not all of them are desirable. As we grow older, the skin loses two important proteins – elastin and collagen, which provide elasticity or the ability to bounce back. Collagen comprises tightly-constructed fibers, which help our skin maintain its structure and firmness. Many internal and external factors, such as UV or sun exposure, pollutants in the environment, and lifestyle choices affect this protein content.
Shedding extra pounds
A rapid drop in weight causes the skin to lose its firmness, especially around the face. This may look even more pronounced when someone loses a significant amount of weight (for example, 100 pounds or more). It occurs because of damage to the elastin and collagen fibers, which reduce the skin’s ability to snap back into position. Bariatric surgeries may also cause saggy skin.
When you are pregnant, the skin naturally stretches to accommodate the fetus, and once the baby is born, the skin doesn’t regain its tautness easily. How well your skin recovers post-pregnancy is also determined by other factors such as your weight, age, and genetics.
Medical conditions like cutaneous T-cell lymphoma also increase the risk of saggy skin around the elbows and the knees. Some people living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (a connective tissue disorder) may also experience a defect in collagen production, causing wrinkles or drooping skin on the face.
How to prevent loose facial skin?
While it is a tall order to try and prevent aging altogether, it is entirely possible to slow down the rate at which your skin ages. Some of the following techniques may help fight the signs of aging:
Avoid sun damage
Sun damage can cause your skin to age faster, so remember to use sunscreen when stepping out. Also, caps, hats, scarves, and sunglasses are great at completing your outfit, but they are even better at protecting you from the sun. Avoid any direct exposure when the sun is directly overhead (between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm), as the rays are at their harshest during those hours.
Practice regular skincare
Your skincare routine can help you delay the onset of signs of aging. The most important skincare pillars are cleansers, exfoliators, and moisturizers; these products can help you maintain your youthful glow. If you are interested in building a skincare routine, look for products that are enriched with alpha hydroxy, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide acid, or retinol. If you’d like to skip the required research, speak to your dermatologist for recommendations that work for your skin type.
You’ve heard the age-old adage ‘You are what you eat’. That’s true for your skin too! Your skin’s health is a reflection of your daily food intake. To improve your skin’s elasticity and texture, ensure your food comprises amino acids, vitamins A, C, and E, and minerals like silicon and zinc. This includes food items such as fatty fish, avocados, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, red or yellow bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, soy, and red grapes.
Eating healthy also includes cutting back on some unhealthy foods. Limit your intake of highly processed, sugar-rich, and fatty foods, as they can increase inflammation in the body and age your skin cells prematurely.
Your skin requires water to remain hydrated and look bright and supple. Drinking 7-8 glasses of water per day can help you keep it soft and moisturized. Your fluid intake can also help you retain your skin’s elasticity and delay the onset of wrinkles.
Exercising regularly, especially strength training with weights, is a great way to boost your overall health and mood. Not only does it help you feel more productive throughout the day, it also helps you tone your muscles and leaves you with a wonderful afterglow!
Remedies for sagging skin
Although sagging skin is a normal part of the process of aging, it is a cause of worry for many. With our ever-evolving beauty standards, immense importance is given to a youthful and vibrant appearance. If you are concerned about saggy skin on the face or anywhere else on the body, here are some treatments and remedies that may help:
Treatments to reduce minor sagging
If you are experiencing minor drooping of the skin in certain areas, you can try some of these simple, non-invasive treatments for skin tightening:
There is absolutely no substitute to regular exercise, and your skin will tell you the same. Exercise can help build muscle mass and tighten the muscles to give the appearance of firmer, younger-looking skin. To build muscle, you can try weight lifting, resistance training, or even pilates. In addition to these, doing simple facial exercises every day will help you reduce loose skin around the chin, jowls, and throat.
Before beginning, make sure that you are seated comfortably with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. With a few deep breaths, release any tension that may be collected around your face. Using gentle pressure, try some of the following exercises to help reduce facial sagging:
- To reduce crow’s feet
Position your index and middle fingers at the outer corner of your eyes. Spread your fingers apart gently to create a 45-degree angle until your eyes squint a little. Now, stare at a distant point, and hold this stretch for 5 seconds. Relax, and then do two more sets of this exercise. Regularly practicing this technique can help tone the eye muscles and reduce the prevalence of crow’s feet.
- To prevent under-eye bags
Place your thumbs near your ears and your index fingers under your eyes. Open your mouth a little. Now, use only your eyes to stare up at the ceiling. Stay in this position for ten seconds before releasing. Do three sets of this exercise regularly to combat the appearance of under-eye bags.
- To tone eye muscles
Close one eye at a time. Using only the other eye, stare up at the ceiling for 5-10 seconds. Release this position, and repeat it 10 times with each eye. This exercise will help you tone the muscles around your eyes and reduce saggy skin on your face.
- Cheek lift
Doing the fish face is the perfect way to give yourself a little cheek lift. Smile with your mouth tightly closed. Then suck in your cheeks to create a fish face and hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Relax your muscles, and repeat this for 5-10 sets.
- Pufferfish exercise
This exercise is great for targeting double chins. Fill your mouth with air to create an ‘O’ shape. Now, move the air around your mouth – to the right, left, upper, and lower parts of your mouth. Hold it in each position for 5 seconds. Release the air, and relax.
- Lion pose
The lion pose is a traditional yoga pose that can help you work out a double chin. It also helps strengthen your lungs, throat, and voice. This seated posture begins with breathing in through the nose to fill your lungs. As you exhale, open your mouth wide, and stick out your tongue as far as possible. Roar like a lion, making a loud sound from your throat as well. As you do so, put your hands close to your head, and stretch your fingers wide apart. Hold this pose for a few seconds. Relax, and repeat it a few times.
Note that it is best to speak to a doctor before engaging in any exercises, especially if you have recently had an injury or surgery around the face, neck, or tongue. Aside from these exercises, you can consider other ways to manage drooping skin and give it a lift.
Taking hyaluronic or collagen supplements orally can also help firm up a little loose skin to give you a youthful glow.
There are many topical treatments that can help you regain firm skin. These are available as creams, lotions, or serums, so you can choose a formulation that works best for you. Look for treatments that contain retinoids; these can boost the skin’s collagen production, which works wonders for its elasticity and glow.
You can also reduce the onset of wrinkles and saggy skin by making healthy lifestyle choices. Apart from eating well, sleeping on time, and staying hydrated, remember to wear your sunscreen regularly. Reapply it every two hours to keep your skin safe from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Treatments to reduce moderate sagging skin
Non-invasive or minimally-invasive treatments may be advisable to lift drooping or flabby skin. Some of the best facial skin treatments for skin tightening include the following:
Dermal fillers are a minimally invasive and cost-effective option for a quick facelift to treat loose facial skin and wrinkles. Here are some popularly offered dermal fillers:
- Hyaluronic acid
This is one of the most popularly used dermal fillers. It is widely distributed through many tissues in the body, such as the skin and cartilage, and serves as a bonding agent for water molecules, making the skin appear more plump and hydrated. The effects from a hyaluronic acid dermal filler can last from a few months up to a year.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It appears in the main structure of the skin and provides strength and elasticity to it. Many people opt for collagen fillers to boost this effect. However, the effect of these fillers only lasts for three to four months.
- Calcium hydroxylapatite
According to experts, this compound occurs naturally in our bones. It may also be suggested as a dermal filler to treat sagging skin as it helps stimulate natural collagen production. The effects of this filler can last up to a year or more.
Laser therapy treatments can help firm up the skin on the upper arms and stomach, as well as other areas of the body. This is because they help improve collagen production and improve the appearance of the skin tone.
Laser resurfacing or laser peeling is slightly more invasive than regular laser therapy. Here, the upper layers of the skin are removed, and heat is sent down into the deeper layers. One such example is Thermage, an FDA-approved and clinically-proven treatment that makes use of monopolar radiofrequency energy to permeate the skin’s tissue and denature collagen molecules. Known as the best facial for skin tightening, this treatment leads to collagen thickening and remodeling, making the skin appear younger and brighter immediately after treatment. While there is no downtime to resume your regular activities, you may be asked to take certain precautions by your dermatologist to promote healing.
Microfocused ultrasound (MFU)
This technology sends heat deep into the skin’s layers, which helps lift sagging skin by boosting collagen production. However, you may need more time to witness the results of this treatment. Ultherapy is the only FDA-approved non-invasive therapy that can be used to treat facial sagging, especially around the neck, chin, decolletage, and eyebrows. It works by increasing collagen production over time to give you a young and vibrant glow.
Treatments to reduce significant sagging skin
Doctors may recommend surgery if minor cosmetic procedures or lifestyle changes are not enough. Since these are cosmetic procedures that fall under the umbrella of ‘body contouring’, they are generally not covered under insurance. Surgeries are more invasive, require downtime of two weeks to a month for healing, and may even result in a little scarring. There may also be added complications of infections during such surgeries. Body contouring surgeries include tummy tucks (abdominoplasty), arm lift surgery (Brachioplasty), facelift, neck lift, lower body lift, upper body lift, and medial thigh lift.
Home remedies to reduce facial sagging
If you are not keen on visiting the doctor for a cosmetic procedure to improve skin laxity, there are several home remedies you could try to reduce overall skin sagging. These include the following:
Eat mineral-rich foods
Minerals are an important part of maintaining overall skin health as they help filter sunlight, promote healing, and bolster the antioxidant mechanisms to prevent damage to the skin. While all essential minerals play a role in improving skin health, zinc and selenium are considered to be the most important.
- Six percent of the total zinc in the body is located in the skin and it stabilizes the skin membrane. Zinc deficiencies can lead to diarrhea, alopecia, dermatitis, skin lesions, and pigmentation changes. This healthy mineral is found in foods like oysters, beans, almonds, oatmeal, peas, and cheese.
- Selenium, which is naturally present in skin cells, acts as a barrier against free radicals and reduces UVB damage. It can be found in sunflower seeds, yogurt, spinach, oatmeal, and bananas.
Increase your olive oil intake
Olive oil and its byproducts can help improve collagen production in the skin to make it look younger. Some studies have found that people with a higher intake of olive oil were less prone to saggy skin in comparison to others who consumed a lot of meat, dairy, and butter. You can also massage your skin using olive oil; it may not be the obvious choice for a massage oil, but the superfood can truly work wonders.
Don’t ignore vitamin C
Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C can also help boost collagen production in the skin and bolster immunity. It occurs naturally in high amounts in fruits and vegetables like chili peppers, guavas, kale, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits like oranges, kiwi, lemon, and grapefruit. Vitamin C is also added to many topical skin care products to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage, decrease inflammation, and provide hydration.
You can also directly apply lemon juice or tomato juice to your face and neck using a cotton ball to aid collagen production and help tighten sagging skin. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to dilute the lemon juice before application.
Have eggs regularly
There are several parts of an egg that can boost your skin’s appearance. Here are the benefits of different parts of the egg:
- Egg membrane
The membrane between the egg white and the shell is particularly known for its collagen-boosting properties. Use a cream that is made with the egg membrane to restore your skin’s elasticity.
- Egg white and honey mask
You can also create an egg white and honey mask thrice a month to reduce facial sagging. To create the mask, use one egg white and two tablespoons of honey. Apply this to your face and let it sit for 15 minutes, before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Egg white contains albumin, a protein that can help improve the skin’s elasticity. Honey is anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial, and can help provide hydration to the skin.
Try coconut oil
Cold-pressed coconut oil is a great source of antioxidants, which can help reverse the damage caused by free radicals on the skin. Not only does it help moisturize and hydrate your skin, but it can also help reduce the appearance of sagging skin. To reap its benefits, massage it in circular motions for 5-10 minutes, and leave it overnight. Doing so regularly can help give your skin a youthful glow.
Use aloe vera
Being a plant parent is not the easiest thing, but some plants have enough benefits to be worth the effort. An aloe vera plant contains several anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its malic acid and phytochemical content. You can take an aloe vera supplement, or use a gel to boost collagen production and hydration in the skin. This will help you delay the onset of wrinkles and fine lines, and keep your skin glowing and bright.
Make a banana mask
Nutrient-rich foods such as bananas are superb for the skin. Bananas contain natural oils, vitamins (A, B, C, and D), and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. You can make the most of these nutrients by eating a banana regularly. If you’re worried about the caloric content in the fruit, you can also make a fine paste using a quarter of it and apply a thin layer of this on your face. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes before washing it off to experience younger-looking skin.
Use a silk or copper-oxide pillowcase
Choosing the right material for your pillowcase can also help you delay the onset of wrinkles! Instead of a regular cotton pillowcase, opt for silk, which is hypoallergenic and delicate on the skin. You can also look for copper-oxide pillowcases, which can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
Probiotics are live bacteria that support gut health and can help prevent various skin conditions like eczema, acne, and dry skin. Regularly consuming probiotics such as plain yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and others can help restore the skin’s pH balance, reduce oxidative stress, prevent certain skin cancers, and even reduce the effects of damage caused by UV stress.
Droopy, sagging skin is a natural part of aging; it is nothing to be embarrassed about. That said, if it is making you conscious, speak to your doctor about the best course of action. Be sure to talk to them regarding possible home remedies, and if they may suit your skin to make it appear firmer and brighter.