Saggy skin or loose skin is one of the characteristics of aging, chronic sun damage, or uncared skin1. It is when our skin appears loose and sags down away from its usual position and structure.
Saggy skin can occur anywhere on the body but most commonly on the jowls, eyes, chin, throat, stomach, and upper arms.
Watch enough weight-loss shows and you will know that saggy skin is also one of the by-products of fat loss. But saggy skin can also be caused by the natural process of aging, chronic sun damage, pregnancy, or certain diseases.
Our skin is made up of three different layers and each layer has a role to play in maintaining our youthful appearance. These layers are the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.
Within each layer are various structures that work to keep our skin firm, elastic, and smooth. However, as we age these structures either break down or are not repaired and replaced as efficiently as before. Other factors like sun damage can also increase the speed of which these structures disintegrate.
Within the epidermis, new cells are being made to replace the old cells, and this helps us maintain our youthful appearance. However, as we age, the production of new cells reduces and hence the replacement of old cells is delayed2.
The dermis is responsible for the production of collagen and elastin, two very important structures in maintaining the tautness of our skin. Due to aging and sun damage, collagen and elastin disintegrates, which results in their inability to maintain the structure of the skin and reducing the skins’ ability to retain moisture3.
The hypodermis is the bottom most layer of your skin. It helps absorb injury, connects the dermis to your muscles and bones, and it helps keep you warm. As you age, the hypodermis shrinks, and your skin starts to sag4.
In addition to aging, the other causes of saggy skin include:
• Rapid weight loss
• Sun damage
• Air pollution
• Poor nutrition and hydration
• Excessive alcohol intake
• Some diseases
• Loose skin around the face or areas of weight loss
• Fine lines or wrinkles
• Enlarged pores
• Change in skin colour
• Skin sensitivity
The market is saturated with treatment options for saggy skin. Together with your dermatologist, you will need to find the right treatment option for you based on your needs, your lifestyle, and the severity of your saggy skin.
Treatment options for saggy skin5:
• Over-the-counter creams and lotions: while these are unable to give your face a proper lift, they might treat other underlying conditions that may slightly improve your skin appearance. Examples of these creams are retinoids and moisturisers.
• Ultrasound: where heat is sent deep into your skin causing your skin to increase the production of collagen.
• Radiofrequency: works in the same way as an ultrasound where heat is sent into your skin to stimulate the production of collagen.
• Laser therapy: stimulates the production of collagen and helps to tighten skin.
• Body contouring surgery: skin in the affected areas is surgically tightened.