Written by: Kimberly A. Wenner, MD
Along with cosmetic appearance, our skin is essential for a myriad of critical processes in our body, such as temperature regulation and retaining body fluids. Unfortunately, our skin tends to lose elasticity, develop fine lines, and thin as we age. To tighten your skin, it is important to know what causes a loss of firmness and how to treat it.
What Causes Skin to Lose Elasticity?
Numerous factors affect your skin’s health, but the most prominent cause of sagging skin is the natural aging process. As we grow older, the body produces less collagen and elastin, which are proteins abundant in our body’s various structures that keep our skin firm. With decreased levels of these proteins in the body, our skin naturally becomes more fragile and begins to sag.
In addition to normal aging, the skin’s elasticity can be affected by a wide range of factors. For instance, some people experience a more significant loss of firmness due to their genetic predisposition. However, several environmental and lifestyle factors can also impact your skin’s ability to keep its firmness.
External Factors that Affect the Skin
Along with the natural aging process and your genetics, there are a number of external factors that can accelerate your loss of elastin and collagen, including:
- Sun damage
- Air pollution
Where is Your Skin Most Likely to Lose Firmness?
The face and neck are where people tend to first notice wrinkles because you look at your face every day, and it is more exposed to environmental factors than the rest of your skin. In general, this lack of firmness may become most evident around your late 30s and early 40s.
You are also most likely to experience skin sagging and looseness in lower areas of the body, such as:
- Underside of the arms
- Above your knee
- Lower abdomen
Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can treat and prevent sagging skin through products, injections, and cosmetic procedures.
1. Tighten Skin Using Products
With both topical and oral solutions available, there are a few different products that you can use to stimulate collagen production. Some of the best over-the-counter topical products include:
- Glycolic acid
- Growth factors and serums
Specifically, the board-certified dermatologists at Cascade Eye & Skin Centers recommend SkinMedica TNS serum, which contains growth factors to stimulate collagen formation. There are also multiple glycolic acid and retinol products that can be tailored to your skin type and regimen. In addition, we offer compounded tretinoin (available by prescription) that has been scientifically proven to build collagen and improve fine wrinkles.
Another practical and non-invasive way to reduce mild to moderate signs of aging is to get a chemical peel at one of our Cascade Cosmetic Centers. Chemical peels can reduce fine lines and promote skin firmness by removing the top layer of dead skin cells, which helps diminish pigment discoloration and brightens the skin. Glycolic acid and TCA peels also stimulate collagen formation through the healing process.
Along with topical solutions, there are several oral supplements that you can take to help tighten your skin. Recent studies indicate that taking collagen supplements daily for six months can improve skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density. These supplements are often available as a pill or a powder.
Cascade Eye & Skin Centers recommend Vital Proteins Collagen, but there are multiple other supplements that are beneficial for your skin’s firmness as well. There are also vegan and vegetarian options that you can take, which are made in labs with yeast rather than with animal products.
2. Tighten Skin with Fillers
Another way to reduce skin sagging immediately are with dermal fillers, which are products injected under the skin that can:
- Minimize wrinkles
- Stimulate collagen production
- Increase volume
Cascade Eye & Skin Centers suggest Sculptra Aesthetic and hyperdilute Radiesse, which are volumizing fillers that are highly successful at boosting natural collagen production. These fillers can be used anywhere on the body but are most frequently applied on the face and neck. Hyaluronic fillers such as Restalyne and Juvaderm have also been shown to stimulate some collagen over time.
After Filler Treatment
Following a dermal filler treatment, you will likely experience some mild bruising and swelling. The collagen-stimulating fillers typically require 2-3 treatments four to six weeks apart for optimal results.
This treatment is subtle and can take four to six weeks to see complete results. It is also very natural-appearing, as it is your body’s own collagen that has formed. Once treatment is complete, results can last two to five years.
3. Tighten Skin with Procedures and Therapies
Not only are medications and dermal fillers effective at tightening your skin, but there are also a variety of procedures and therapies that have been proven to be successful.
A Renuvion skin tightening procedure works by using a combination of helium plasma and radiofrequency energy to heat collagen and other structures to tighten the skin. This treatment involves placing a probe underneath the skin and can be used alone or in conjunction with other procedures such as liposuction and abdominoplasty.
Thermage Skin Tightening
Thermage skin tightening is a non-invasive therapy that can also address sagging skin on the body. With just one treatment, Thermage utilizes radiofrequency technology to heat the collagen in your skin. By remodeling your existing collagen and promoting the creation of new collagen, your skin will become more firm with little to no downtime.
Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that involves pricking the skin’s surface with small, sterilized needles. This procedure has been proven to have numerous benefits, including promoting skin tightening by boosting collagen and elastin production. Although this procedure is effective for anyone, microneedling is especially beneficial in younger age groups as a preventative method to hinder skin loosening.
Laser resurfacing utilizes a concentrated CO2 laser to promote skin tightening and reduce skin irregularities. Cascade Eye and Skin offers Fraxel Repair, a minimally invasive technique that creates small holes in the skin, causing new collagen to form, and it only requires about a week of downtime.
Preventing a Loss of Skin Tightness
Prevention is always the best method of treatment, so it is vital to follow a healthy skincare routine that includes:
- Wearing sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every day
- Not smoking
- Limiting exposure to external pollutants
- Using a gentle cleanser before bed
- Keeping your skin moisturized
- Finding products that work for your skin
- Visiting a dermatologist at least once a year
Contact Cascade Eye & Skin Centers
At Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, you will have the opportunity to work with board-certified dermatologist Kimberly A. Wenner, MD. Dr. Wenner is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and a member of South Puget Sound Dermatology society and Association of Military Dermatologists. She has completed 17 years of active duty as Chief of the Madigan Army Medical Center Dermatology Service and has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Combat Action Badge.
If you are interested in learning more about how to care for your skin and how to keep it firm and youthful, contact Cascade today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wenner.