Tightening Your Saggy Skin

Sufferers of sagging skin: take heart! There are options out there to treat your droopy skin that don’t require a surgical face lift (which is an option, albeit invasive and expensive). However, there are no easy fixes. "Tightening sagging skin requires more intervention than any other problem," says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., spokesperson for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

A good moisturizer will plump skin temporarily, but if the cream is too heavy, it will clog oversized pores. At-home solutions include an over-the-counter vitamin A (known as retinol) cream, topical vitamin C, and alpha or beta hydroxy acids (AHAs or BHAs) are recommended. LifeCell contains Vitamin C and BHA and is safe to use during the day with a sunscreen.

Vitamin A (retinoids) have been long used to treat sagging skin, but not without side effects. The chief side effect is skin irritation, which is counter-intuitive when fighting sagging skin, because skin irritation damages skin cells and contributes to more sagging!

Women who use vitamin A on their face have to be extremely careful about sun exposure, as skin becomes sensitized to UV rays. As an aside, I have spoken with people about being careful about using topical vitamin A, especially if you take an oral supplement: too much can land you in the hospital with an overdose.

Because of the above possibilities, topical retinoids or vitamin A is not recommended for everyone. If you know you don’t react to vitamin A, Revitol may work well for you. For those that have known reactions or aren’t willing to find out, LifeCell is a much better, safer, choice.

The real culprit behind facial sagging is degradation of collagen by aging and free radical damage. To truly combat sagging, more collagen is needed. However, collagen is a big molecule, and scientific studies have shown topical collagen cannot penetrate skin cells, and just lies on top of the epidermis, doing nothing.

To get more collagen, you must stimulate the skin to increase its own collagen synthesis. In this way, sagging skin is gradually, over time, tightened by increased natural production of collagen. It is not the dramatic, instant face lift that plastic surgery gives, but for many people, this is preferable.

Topical application of vitamin C has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis. Look for products that have the stable forms of vitamin C, including ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. LifeCell contains ascorbyl palmitate and is an excellent product.

Topical application of other anti-oxidants, including ubiquinone, vitamin E and D3PA (all included in LifeCell) also help protect and repair cells, allowing the cells to get back to the normal work of creating collagen.

Not interested in a face-lift? That's fine — there are noninvasive procedures worth investigating. Both infrared and laser treatments help stimulate the development of new collagen and "get heat deeply into the skin to help tighten fibrous bands," explains Dr. Weiss, who is also vice president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

The drawback is these sessions are expensive and you will need several of them, but the results are visible and impressive. If you do choose to explore procedures or surgery, it is still recommended to use a good product, such as LifeCell, to use afterwards to prevent to need from having the procedures done again. Talk with your dermatologist.