There are various causes of sagging skin but they all make us feel worse about the way we look, especially if it is visible even when wearing clothes.
The loss of definition caused by sagging skin can appear anywhere on the face and body but most commonly it occurs on the neck, abdomen, arms, and inner thighs.
Loose, sagging, or excess skin might be due to rapid weight loss, pregnancy, or aging (skin naturally loses elasticity when collagen production slows down). You might even experience loose skin under the eyes – baggy eyes/under-eye wrinkles – caused by tiredness.
Wrinkled skin, crepey skin, saggy skin, droopy skin – all descriptors for the same condition – can occur in all skin types and all skin colors but it all presents a challenge. Of course, it depends on the quantity of extra skin but some ways it can be reduced are exercise, weight loss, massage, topical creams, and supplements. There are also surgical and non-surgical cosmetic options.
The best treatment is going to depend on how much excess skin there is and where it is. Some treatments are not suitable for major areas of loose skin. For example, an amount of loose abdominal skin after rapid weight loss is a very different challenge from loose jowls. It is probable that for the best results, saggy skin caused by weight loss requires more complex solutions and invasive procedures in weight loss surgery such as tummy tucks (abdominoplasty) or other body contouring cosmetic procedures.
In this article, we’ll focus on smaller areas of saggy skin that can be treated by nonsurgical procedures rather than cosmetic surgeries. Most specifically, we’ll look at noninvasive treatments for the face.
What Causes Sagging Skin?
Sagging skin, or more scientifically, skin laxity, is a sign of aging caused by the progressive loss of collagen and elastin.
Both are naturally occurring essential cellular proteins. Collagen provides structure and support and elastin provides the stretchiness, bounciness, and ability to recoil. Together they keep the skin strong and healthy, maintaining both its turgor and suppleness. As we age, however, the production of both proteins slows down.
Elastin and collagen production slows due to a natural decrease in cell metabolism, exposure to UVA and UVB radiation from the sun, and genetics/ethnicity can also play a part.
With reduced collagen and elastin, skin elasticity and plumpness are lost. The result is wrinkles, folds, and saggy jowls.
Here are five non-invasive treatments aimed at tightening saggy skin.
1. Microneedling with Radiofrequency
Microneedling is a form of collagen induction therapy. It is a reasonably effective treatment for the face, being a solution for conditions including fine lines and wrinkles. large pores, reduced skin laxity, stretch marks, and scars.
In this facial treatment, small, very fine needles puncture the skin creating micro-wounds. This triggers the body’s healing response which includes a stimulation in the production of collagen and elastin.
When microneedling is combined with the application of radiofrequency, the efficacy of the treatment is increased. RF waves are directed into the puncture holes created by the needles and deliver heat into the deep layers of the skin known as the dermis. Collagen and elastin are boosted more than by microneedling alone and the heat action also produces tighter skin.
The treatment has mild to moderate discomfort depending on the energy levels used, but measures are taken to increase comfort. Each session takes an average of 30 to 90 minutes depending on the area treated. A normal treatment plan for visible results is three sessions, spaced 4-6 weeks apart. There is minimal downtime.
2. Radiofrequency and Ultrasound
Radiofrequency isn’t just an effective treatment for skin tightening when used with microneedling. In a radiofrequency treatment, radio waves are sent into the skin’s deeper layers to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Skin gets firmer and thicker over time because the radio waves also speed up cell turnover.
Similar can be achieved with ultrasound waves. In this treatment, an ultrasound device sends a concentrated beam of energy to the target area. This generates heat in the dermis to stimulate collagen production.
These treatments also have mild to moderate discomfort depending on the energy level used. Each session can last 30 to 90 minutes depending on the extent of the area being treated. There is no downtime and results are visible after a single treatment.
3. Injectable Biostimulatory Products
Injectable biostimulatory products such as Sculptra are designed to restore lost volume and stimulate collagen production. Sculptra is injected directly into the soft tissue of the skin where it simultaneously plumps up the area and stimulates collagen growth.
Sculptra can be injected into the face, with the exception of the under eyes and around the mouth. It is also used on the body. Results take up to 6 months to build collagen, and can last for 2-3 years.
Other than the usual sensation of any injection treatment, Sculptra has minimal discomfort. Swelling and bruising may occur. Normal activities can be resumed immediately after.
4. Chemical Peel
In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied topically, usually to the whole face and neck rather than just a small area. The solution removes the outer layer of old, dead skin revealing the newer, smoother skin underneath. The chemicals used also penetrate the skin’s layers sufficiently to promote collagen and elastin production.
Chemical peel options are light, medium, or deep and session times vary. Although classed as a non-invasive cosmetic procedure, light sedation, and pain relief may be required for the deepest peels.
Although there is no specified downtime, the peeling and healing process usually takes about one week. It will be longer with deeper peels, with the skin being red and swollen afterwards. This can last for up to a few months after a deep peel.
The skin may feel tight, dry, and itchy after a chemical peel. The chemicals temporarily compromise the skin’s protective barrier but a hydrating serum or moisturizer will help speed up the healing process and also help to alleviate any irritation or discomfort.
Results are not permanent so repeat treatments will be required.
5. Fully Ablative/Fractional Laser Resurfacing
There has been a significant increase in laser treatments and according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, fully ablative resurfacing is the most effective non-surgical skin tightening procedure.
Ablative laser resurfacing is sometimes called laser peeling. A wand-like device is used to deliver a laser that removes the upper layers of skin to reveal newer, more youthful cells. The laser also heats the deeper skin layer to stimulate collagen production which results in plumper, smoother skin. Crepey skin gains a more even texture.
A session of ablative laser resurfacing lasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the method and treatment area.
Results may take several months to show but the effects can last for years.
Where to Get Treatment
It is important that you get any of these treatments in an accredited setting performed by staff with the necessary qualifications (where required). The Z Center for Cosmetic Health offers the very latest and innovative treatments in state-of-the-art facilities in Sherman Oaks under the supervision of board-certified general surgeon and medical director, Dr. Michael Zadeh.
Non-surgical procedures for the removal of loose skin and skin tightening offered include Genius RF, Sculptra, Nano-Ray Laser, and Thermitight. Call in or use the contact form on the website to book an initial consultation.