Sagging skin is caused by the loss of firmness due to aging, rapid weight loss, or various other factors that may contribute to it.
Conventional advice for treating sagging skin is to get skin tightening surgery, which requires cutting out loose skin. This surgical procedure can be costly, require significant recovery time, and leave permanent scars — as such, it’s not an option for many people.
Fortunately, there are ways to help with skin tightening without going under the knife.
In this guide from Nourishing Biologicals, we’ll discuss what saggy skin is, its causes, and five ways to help tighten loose skin.
What Is Saggy Skin?
Sagging happens when the skin becomes loose and is no longer adequately filled out by fat, muscle, or other underlying tissue.
Skin sagging happens over time. With age, the body’s supply of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (HA) slowly decreases. If the skin gets stretched out, it may not “snap back” to its original size and shape as quickly.
Common areas when you might see sagging skin may include:
- Upper arms
- Inner thighs
- Knees and elbows
What Causes Saggy Skin?
It’s possible to experience skin sagging at any age. However, many people begin to experience skin laxity, or loosening, around their late 30s, when the body’s collagen production and skin elasticity begin to decrease.
The older someone gets, the higher their chances of developing skin sagging. Besides aging (which is out of our control), many lifestyle behaviors can change the skin's structure and lead to sagging.
There are several causes of saggy skin. They include:
- Sun damage: The sun releases harmful free radicals, which interfere with the body’s ability to produce collagen. This also results from the use of tanning beds.
- Smoking: Cigarettes directly degrade collagen. Plus, toxins from cigarettes reduce oxygen supply to bodily tissues, interfering with the body’s self-healing process.
- Alcohol: Like the sun, alcohol also produces free radicals, which lead to collagen breakdown.
- Sugar: Sugar attaches to collagen molecules through a process known as glycation, which leads it to break down at a faster rate.
- Stress: As if we needed to hear another terrible effect of stress, too much of it can lead to swelling and redness, causing a faster breakdown of collagen.
How To Help Treat Saggy Skin
One of the most common strategies for treating skin sagging is to go under the knife to get rid of excess skin. In many cases, this is an expensive procedure that requires a lengthy recovery period.
Fortunately, research has shown many, many advances in finding ways to improve skin firmness. The following are five tried-and-true ways to help reduce saggy skin for noticeable results.
Exercise has many benefits for appearance, and increasing skin firmness is one of them. Building muscle can help “fill out” loose skin and create a firm, smooth appearance.
Cardio can also help to improve sagging skin. According to a 2015 study, cardio can help release a hormone called interleukin-15 from skeletal muscle tissue, which helps improve skin metabolism, and eliminates the dead skin cells that contribute to sagging.
Diet plays a significant role in skin firmness, with excess sugar and alcohol consumption leading to sagging skin. Diet can just as effectively help with sagging skin, with the following producing an anti-sagging effect:
Hydrolyzed collagen: Collagen supplements have become incredibly popular as they can help boost the body’s collagen production, leading to firmer skin. Collagen can also increase hyaluronic acid in the skin, which also helps with sagging.
One placebo-controlled trial found that one month of daily supplementation was enough to produce noticeably firmer skin.
Antioxidants: These are found in various plant foods that help to neutralize free radicals — harmful molecules that degrade collagen. Some antioxidants can even stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin, leading to firmer skin. Some popular antioxidants to supplement with include vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, and lycopene.
While you can get many of these through a colorful plant-based diet, supplements can give you an added boost.
3. Firming Skincare Products
Many skin products promise to firm up the skin without meaningful results. Skin products, like our Miracular Skin Essence, may help improve the appearance of sagging skin — mainly by increasing skin hydration — but these effects may go away as soon as you stop using them.
However, retinol is one skincare ingredient that has been clinically proven to help improve sagging skin. As a derivative of vitamin A, retinol penetrates deep into the skin and ramps up collagen production.
Retinol can be used on the face, neck, or any body part in need of collagen. In fact, producing more collagen can help make the skin firm and supple. Of course, retinol won’t produce dramatic results overnight, but you may likely notice minor improvements within months of using a highly-concentrated retinol product.
4. Non-Invasive Procedures
Noninvasive procedures do not involve surgical tools and do not cut or puncture the skin. As a result, these procedures come with a relatively short downtime and minimal scarring.
To help address skin sagging, many non-invasive procedures use rays that deeply penetrate the skin and ramp up collagen and elastin production. Some examples of these procedures include:
- Ultrasounds: Ultrasounds stimulate the middle layer of the skin, which is where most collagen production takes place. They increase collagen production, filling out sagging skin and leading to a firmer appearance. The results of this procedure aren’t instant; instead, new collagen begins to form weeks or months after treatment for up to one year.
- Lasers: There are various laser treatments available on the market, but they all work by heating the skin and causing it to constrict, leading to a tighter appearance. Unlike ultrasounds, lasers affect the outermost layers of the skin with nearly instant results.
- Radiofrequency: This treatment works by sending radio waves to your body’s tissues, which speeds up cell turnover and ramps up collagen and elastin production. While some improvements can be seen almost immediately after treatment, the full results usually take months as the body gradually produces more collagen.
- Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL): This procedure uses intense pulsed light to parts of the face or body that need to be tightened. IPL dramatically increases collagen production, starting as soon as 48 hours following treatment. This treatment is especially popular for those with hyperpigmentation and sagging skin.
Of course, the results depend on your body’s response to the treatments. Some people may experience dramatic results, while others may barely notice any changes.
In addition, the results may not be long-lasting. Many cosmetic dermatologists and surgeons recommend following proper maintenance of the treatments. For dramatic results, minimally invasive procedures may be a better option.
5. Minimally Invasive Procedures
Like surgery, minimally invasive procedures puncture the skin. However, unlike surgery, they don’t require much downtime and leave minimal scarring.
One of the most popular procedures of this sort is surgical radiofrequency (RF). This type of radiofrequency treatment involves putting small tubes through the skin. It provides targeted heating and tightening of the skin and can reach deeper layers for more dramatic results.
This procedure is often performed on the upper arms, abdomen, or breasts. In fact, studies show that a single session of surgical RF can help improve skin firmness by as much as 30%.
Surgical RF can be uncomfortable and is usually done under local anesthesia. It requires a few days of downtime for recovery, with results showing over time as collagen production increases.
Saggy skin is not a condition and won’t affect your health. But for some, it can be frustrating and affect one’s self-esteem. Luckily, there are many non-surgical options for keeping your skin smooth, firm, and tight.
Whether it’s building muscle, taking collagen supplements, or getting a non-invasive skin tightening treatment, you have many options for achieving the tight skin you desire.
To support you in your journey, Nourishing Biologicals has clinically proven products to boost your skin’s health and appearance.