What is saggy skin?
The most popular search online is sagging skin and wrinkles as it’s a common age related concern amongst all ages. Better nutrition and education enables people to live longer and with that an increasing preoccupation with looking good as we age.
Sagging skin can be defined as the progressive loss of collagen and supporting elastin fibres, kind of like a rubber band that has lost its spring. It can occur on the face and body and is affected by many factors, which includes thinning of the epidermis (the top layer of skin), damaged elastin fibres due to pollution or smoking, and generalised collagen loss.
There are 4 main types of collagen – Type I, II, III and IV. Type I is found most abundantly in our body and is mainly made of densely packed fibres in our bones, joints, and tendons and function as a supporting structure. Collagen is what keeps the skin youthful by providing a scaffolding to the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin. As a person gets older, the body loses collagen and elastin naturally. Think of it as a glue that keeps our tissues together and protects us from environmental elements.
Several factors can accelerate collagen loss
Weight gain, pregnancy and puberty
Rapid and extreme weight gain causes skin to be stretched and elastin fibres to tear and break in the process. For example, during pregnancy, the skin is stretched for an extended period and after delivery is simply unable to have the ability to spring back to its original state, even after weight loss.
The skin over the face, abdomen and breasts start to have striae or stretch marks which can be considered scarring on the skin with an off-color hue. Over time they may diminish, but will not disappear completely. Stretch marks are caused by tearing of the dermis (deeper layer of skin) which can occur during periods of rapid growth of the body in puberty, weight gain and pregnancy.
Sun Exposure and Lifestyle
It is well documented that the sun plays a huge role in premature signs of aging. The incidence of pigmentation, sun damage and photo ageing is higher in countries closer to the equator.Photo ageing refers to direct damage from UVA and UVB rays resulting in wrinkles, broken blood vessels and sagging skin. These rays both damage and break down the skin’s elastin over time, leading to premature sagging.The action of prolonged sun exposure is sunburn and the production of free radicals with degradation of collagen and elastin fibers. This is further worsened with pollution and smoking which impairs the skin’s ability to heal and repair. Diets with too much refined sugar and carbohydrates, causes cross-linking of collagen, a process called glycation which results in stiffening and loss of elasticity in the skin. Glycation also causes free radical formation, oxidative stress and inflammation, all of which accelerates ageing.
Ways to reduce sagging skin
There are several ways we can slow down the process of ageing, which may vary in efficacy and cost.
As a first step, we should always consider our skincare. We can incorporate the use of firming creams which contain elastin and collagen boosting ingredients to slow the process of ageing. Look for ingredients like retinol, sodium hyaluronate, vitamin A, C and E, argireline, hexa-peptides which are anti-ageing and help to maintain healthy skin.
Exercise regularly to encourage blood flow to all tissues and good circulation to skin.
Use a sunblock daily as a good routine, to reduce the overall damage from sun exposure over many years.
While the results may be subtle, good skincare and sunblock provide a good foundation for healthy skin and work on a preventative basis.
2. Facial Exercises
There has been a flood of excitement and online videos about doing facial exercises or face yoga to tone and lift skin. However the effectiveness of facial exercises may simply be limited to:
- encouraging lymphatic drainage
- stimulating blood circulation
- relaxing facial muscles
However there are no current clinical studies to support the claim that facial exercise will make a person look younger.
3. Supplements containing:
- Collagen peptides. The market for this supplement has become popular over the past several years for a reason: It works to replenish the collagen that’s broken down in the body. You can take it in many forms, liquid or as a capsule. Needs to be taken daily and consistently to see results.
- Vitamin C. A potent antioxidant which repairs damaged skin cells, protects the skin from free radicals, and even assists in collagen production.
- Fern extract. Provides broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB sun damage.
Treatments for Saggy Skin
Q Switch Laser
Q switch laser is a quick and effective way to tone and stimulate collagen synthesis within epidermis and dermis by using laser energy to stimulate the increased production of collagen and elastin fibres. The results are visible with reduction in wrinkle depth and reduction in pore size after a few sessions.
There is little or no downtime but several sessions are required to achieve a desired result.
HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) works to lift and contour the face and body using ultrasound energy. It is non-invasive and has a high safety margin to be used on the eye areas. Liftera is the latest in Korean technology HIFU. It can be used to firm sagging skin on the face, neck, eyes, body and breasts.
Ultrasound techniques are considered a non-invasive alternative to a facelift or tummy tuck, without the pain and high cost. Unlike conventional lifting techniques, Liftera is less painful for the patient and while you will see an immediate difference, expect 6-8 weeks before you see optimal results. For a noticeable difference, you may have to do 2-3 treatments, 6 months apart.
S Lift is a non-surgical facelift treatment for skin firming and tightening. The FDA approved Exilis Elite medical technology is used in this treatment to promote collagen growth. It uses radio frequency and ultrasound technology to go deep into the skin to stimulate collagen for a long lasting lift and firmness.
The Exilis Elite transmits energy into the deep skin tissue while leaving the surface area untouched. It rejuvenates, lifts and firms saggy skin, promotes the production of collagen to improve skin texture, elasticity and smooths out lines and wrinkles. It will also improve the appearance of new cellulite and stretch marks.
You can start as early as in your 30s when you start to notice skin around the eyes and mouth are not as firm as before.