What Causes Sagging Skin?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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The causes of sagging skin are generally related to aging. Young skin typically contains high levels of collagen and elastin. These proteins, usually found in the body's connective tissues, can help keep skin firm and supple in youth. As skin ages, the body produces less of these proteins, and sagging skin can occur. Additional factors that can contribute to sagging skin include sun damage, significant loss of weight, cigarette smoking, consistently high levels of stress, poor sleep, cold temperatures, and alcohol consumption.

Experts believe that chronically dry skin will start sagging sooner and more severely than skin that is kept moisturized. Cold climates can age skin, because freezing temperatures and blustery winds can dry the skin. Experts typically recommend combating these effects by regularly moisturizing skin during the colder months.

Alcohol consumption is also believed to contribute to sagging skin and other signs of aging, because it can cause the expansion of capillaries near the surface of the skin. Regular alcohol consumption can cause these capillaries to break, giving skin a more aged appearance. Smoking cigarettes, or even experiencing regular exposure to secondhand smoke, may drain essential vitamins from the skin, and cause skin to prematurely lose its firmness.


Stress may contribute to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin because it can lead to frequent frowning. Facial expressions generally cause crinkles to appear in certain areas of the face, and, over time, permanent wrinkles can appear in these areas. Stress-relief techniques are believed useful in slowing the appearance of lines and wrinkles in the face. Adequate sleep can also mitigate stress levels. In addition, getting plenty of sleep can help skin retain its youthful luster and health.

Many experts point out that skin usually sags more after one loses a significant amount of weight. Extra body weight can expand the skin. When this weight is lost, the skin may not return to its original shape, especially in older individuals or those who have been extremely overweight.

Sun damage is believed to be one of the primary causes of sagging skin. The sun's rays can damage the skin, accelerating collagen and elastin depletion. As a result, skin that is not well-protected from the sun usually ages faster. Wearing a quality sunblock every day can help reduce the effects of sun damage on the skin.

While all of these factors can contribute to sagging skin, aging may be the only non-preventable factor involved. Every person's skin loses the ability to produce adequate collagen and elastin levels with advancing years. Cosmetic procedures may be able to improve the appearance of aging skin.


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