Many people think that sagging skin is an inevitable part of aging. And yes, there are a lot of reasons why many of us develop loose skin as we get older.
This loss of elasticity is subtle to start. You might first notice fine lines on your face – particularly around your eyes. As you get older, you’ll gradually see more loose skin on your face, neck and chest, and other areas of your body.
But age doesn’t necessarily have to mean you’ll get saggy skin. There are some things you can do to help maintain a youthful appearance. Let’s look at some of the main reasons sagging skin occurs and some things you can do to prevent it from happening!
Factors in Sagging Skin
As we age, we tend to lose fat – particularly around the face. This is why some older people tend to look thinner around the chin, nose, eyes, and cheeks. Bone loss is also part of the aging process. That leads to loose skin that’s often more noticeable around the mouth.
We also lose cartilage in the nose as part of aging. This causes the tip of the nose to droop and makes the bones around the nose more apparent.1
Here are six additional common reasons for sagging skin.
1. Loss of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that helps lock moisture into your skin. It acts as a moisturizer for the skin on your face, neck, and other areas of the body. Your body naturally produces it, but production may slow with age.
When you lose hyaluronic acid, you lose moisture. Skin sagging occurs as a result. We don’t know exactly why this occurs with aging.2
2. Loss of Collagen and Elastin
Collagen and elastin are proteins largely responsible for tightening the skin. Collagen is what forms your connective tissue. Elastin, as the name implies, makes your skin elastic.3 If your body can’t produce enough of these proteins, crepey or saggy skin can be the result.
3. Not Eating Right
Eating a lot of junk food can increase the level of sugar in your blood. That, in turn, could damage your skin cells. When glucose from sugar and carbs get into your blood, it breaks down collagen and elastin. This can lead to a loss of skin elasticity.4
4. Exposure to the Sun
Getting too much sun plays a major role in the development of sagging skin. Ultraviolet light from the sun damages elastin. When this happens, the skin sags. It can’t snap back into place as easily as it used to.5
Sunlight can also lead to the formation of free radicals, which can also damage skin.6 Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron. Free radicals scavenge the body looking for electrons, and often take them from skin cells. This destroys collagen and elastin, contributing to sagging skin.7
5. Excessive Weight
Carrying too much weight can lead to the stretching of skin over time, commonly referred to as “stretch marks.”8
But did you know excess weight could also lead to other skin issues? This includes irritation and blisters when the folds of excess skin rub together.9 The opposite can also be true. Losing a lot of weight could lead to excess skin.10
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for fine lines and wrinkles on your face. They will typically be more apparent than someone who doesn’t smoke.11
Tips to Prevent Sagging Skin
You could opt for a skin tightening procedure if you have loose skin. But wouldn’t it be easier to avoid the problem in the first place? There are some things you can do to prevent excess skin on your face or neck, or loose skin elsewhere on your body.
Use sunscreen – Protecting your skin from the sun is the single most important thing you can do for your skin and your overall health. Use a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher whenever you’ll be in the sun for an extended amount of time. Apply it liberally to your face and neck, as well as any other areas of skin that are exposed to the sun — even the tops of your feet! And don’t forget to re-apply!
Quit smoking – If you stop smoking, you might be able to slow the development of those fine lines and sagging skin on your face.
Watch your weight – Eating right and exercising could help preserve your skin and your health. Exercise improves blood circulation, helping your skin get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Even a brisk walk several times a week can be hugely beneficial.
Be smart with skin care – Your skin care routine needs to be a gentle one. If you scrub your face and neck too vigorously, that can cause irritation. Always cleanse gently.
Use moisturizer – Apply moisturizer after cleansing your face and neck. This may help you avoid skin laxity and premature aging.12
Concerned About Sagging Skin? See Your Dermatologist
Talk to your dermatologist about other ways to avoid loose skin as you age. Your doctor may also be able to recommend methods of tightening your skin that can help you maintain a youthful appearance.
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