Sagging skin is one of the most common signs of the aging process.
When the skin starts to sag (especially before its time), it can significantly impact our confidence.
Although age is just a number, having youthful, firm, radiant skin can do wonders for how we feel about ourselves, inside and out. Knowing what causes sagging skin and what you can do to address it puts the power back in your hands.
What causes sagging skin?
Several factors can contribute to sagging skin, but the reason it happens comes down to one crucial biological component — collagen (along with its sister protein, elastin). When the skin loses this fundamental, structural protein, it also loses volume and elasticity, which leads to thinning, sagging skin.
As our skin ages, the body’s ability to keep up a high rate of collagen production starts to dwindle. Over time, collagen degradation and loss outpaces how efficiently the body can replace it, and the results become increasingly visible on the skin.
Less collagen production doesn’t just lead to sagging skin; it also means more prominent fine lines and wrinkles. The skin also won't bounce back like it used to, and lines will begin to form around the areas we move the most — this is where smile and frown lines come from.
2. Excessive sun exposure
UV radiation from the sun, especially over time, can also speed up the rate at which collagen disappears from the skin. UVA rays can penetrate the dermis and inhibit the skin’s ability to repair itself, leaving it vulnerable to external stressors.
Excessive sun exposure can also increase your likelihood of developing other skin issues like age spots and even contribute to long-term skin concerns.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your overall health — it's also harmful to your skin. Tobacco smoke exposes the skin to multiple chemicals and toxins, creating free radicals and triggering oxidative stress.
This process can result in visibly sagging skin, among other premature signs of aging. A lifetime of smoking can also lead to noticeable lines around the mouth, which show up far earlier in smokers than they do in non-smokers.
4. Weight loss
Although safe, healthy, planned weight loss can be a good thing, losing weight too quickly can also lead to sagging skin all over the body. If the body is unable to keep up with the rate of fat loss, it can be more challenging for the skin to bounce back.
Sagging skin around the jawline (also known as jowls) is the most common place where people see these side effects related to weight loss.
What can you do about sagging skin?
While we can’t stop the aging process entirely, there are ways to address its visible effects — all without having to undergo costly plastic surgery and deal with weeks of recovery time.
Although cosmetic treatments don’t fix the underlying issue, they can help minimize the aesthetic concerns that come with sagging skin.
There are many cosmetic treatments that can help patients achieve a firmer, more youthful appearance. Botox is one of the most popular because it can help smooth out the skin and make it appear tighter.
Microneedling can help firm and rejuvenate the skin with minimal downtime. When combined with add-ons like PRP, microneedling is even more effective at boosting collagen and increasing skin elasticity, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and bringing back a healthy-looking glow.
Filler is another effective option that can help put some volume back into sagging skin. Fillers can be strategically injected into areas with the most collagen loss to restore volume and contour the face.
Other treatments that can help with sagging skin include:
Cosmetic procedures can help temporarily minimize the visibility of sagging skin, but following them up with the right skin care routine can help extend their results.
It’s important to start with a gentle cleanser to wash any makeup and grime off your face, especially before bed. Make sure you’re using lukewarm water, as water that is too hot can strip your skin of healthy oils.
Once your skin is clean, incorporate products with targeted ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and bioactive peptides to help visually firm and tighten the skin. Prescription retinol and retinoids can also help, but they may irritate the skin and trigger an increase in breakouts (known as a “purge”) at first.
And, as always, finish your skin care routine with an effective moisturizer. A lack of hydration can also contribute to or speed up collagen loss and make the skin look duller than usual. Moisturizer is like instant rejuvenation, giving your skin what it needs to look, feel and perform its best.
If you’re not sure where to start when building a skin care routine, book a skin consult with us! One of our advanced practice providers can help you identify your main skin concerns and create a custom skin care plan for you.
Always wear sunscreen
Sun damage is devastating for your skin and your health, so always apply sunscreen before leaving your house (even if you’re not planning to spend time outdoors). Although we love a sunkissed glow, finding other ways to get it without tanning can help prevent premature signs of aging.
Look for a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection, has an SPF of at least 35 and won’t wash off immediately when exposed to water. Reapply it every two hours or sooner if you're sweating or in the water. Making sunscreen a regular part of your morning routine is one of the best things you can do for your skin.
The bottom line...
Don’t let sagging skin get you down — keep this info in mind to better care for your skin and keep it looking younger for longer. Book a skin consult with us to learn about treatments like Botox, microneedling and more that can help address sagging skin, and get customized recommendations to help reveal your best skin yet.
Skin aging from mechanisms to interventions: focusing on dermal aging | Frontiers
Botulinum toxin (Botox) A for reducing the appearance of facial wrinkles: a literature review of clinical use and pharmacological aspect | PMC