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What Causes Facial Skin to Sag?

By Kay Ireland ; Updated July 18, 2017

As you age, it's likely that you'll start to see changes occur in your skin, including on your face. What was once plump and healthy looking may become saggy and translucent. By understanding the changes in your skin, you can effectively seek out prevention plans and ways to treat your sagging skin so that it looks younger and healthier. With the help of your dermatologist or plastic surgeon, you can achieve a tighter, smoother look for younger looking skin.


As your skin begins to sag and age, you'll likely notice an increase in wrinkles. With saggy skin, you may notice folding and wrinkles, especially around areas on your face where you express emotion, like around your eyes and mouth. Skin may also look paler and more translucent, as it lacks the filler that it used to have in order to make the skin look plump. You may also notice that you skin is more sensitive.


The cause of saggy skin all goes back to one factor: the thinning of the outer layer of skin, or epidermis, notes Medline Plus. As your skin thins, it also loses the layer of fat that kept your skin looking youthful and plump. With less fat in your skin, it begins to sag and look more aged, wrinkled and fragile. Your sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age, making your skin drier and more prone to wrinkles. In short, age is the cause of facial skin sagging.


Some sagging facial skin is the result of genetics, which means it likely isn't preventable. Some of your daily habits can exacerbate your aging and saggy skin, though, so it's important to treat your skin well so that it stays looking younger. By avoiding skin damage, you can avoid sagging skin caused by sun exposure, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. Apply sunscreen whenever your face is exposed to the sun. Avoid excessive facial expressions, like squinting, which can create thin skin and wrinkles around the eyes.


Once your facial skin has sagged past a certain point, no amount of anti-aging creams and ointments will put the elasticity and volume back into your skin. Instead, you may need to rely on dermatological and even surgical treatments to help restore plumpness to your skin so it looks tighter. Dermatological fillers, like collagen, can be injected into the skin to give a look of plumpness for months at a time, notes A face lift, where skin is lifted near the temples, can help restore tightness, but it requires significant recovery time.

Expert Insight

Ranella Hirsch, M.D., spokesperson for the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, tells "Good Housekeeping" magazine that sagging, thinning skin is a common problem that requires more aggressive intervention than some other signs of aging skin. If you're self-conscious about your aging skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to talk about your options and eligibility for those options.

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