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What causes sagging skin?

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery

Sagging skin is primarily the cause of loss of elasticity and the aging process. The amount of collagen is reduced and the elastin in diminished with aging. This is one reason why so many skin care products are composed of collagen or induce collagen formation. The gravitational descent of the skin and underlying muscle create major facial skin laxity. The most common aging skin problems include prominence of the nasolabial fold, jowl formation, and the turkey neck (platysmal banding under the chin). The goals of plastic surgeons include tightening these areas and enhancing volume to the facial regions showing atrophy.

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Facial aging occurs not just in the skin, but in all the soft tissues. The skin loses its elasticity, and the connective tissues and muscles elongate and sag. As this happens, the skin actually grows and fat shifts -- it appears in areas like the neck but disappears from the mid-cheek. The end result is sagging. The eyebrows head south, the upper eyelids droop, sometimes interfering with vision, and the lower lids drift downward, sometimes even pulling away from the eyeball. And as this happens, troughs appear below the eyes, and the skin of the mid-cheek mounds up between the nose and the mouth, creating nasolabial folds and marionette lines. And further down the cheek, tissue that once resided high in the face sinks down to form the jowls. In the neck, the loose skin fills with fat and becomes reminiscent of poultry as two stark bands become visible.

The constellation of sagging and stretching of the tissues is treated differently than the fine wrinkling in the skin. Here, we need bigger procedures that are designed to lift tissue and remove excess skin and fat.
Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

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Straight Talk about Cosmetic Surgery (Yale University Press Health & Wellness)

The public’s recent exuberance toward cosmetic surgery has spurred an unprecedented demand for appearance-changing procedures. But how can an average consumer discern the hype from solid truth? ...
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Aging is the most common cause of skin sagging. With age, your body loses collagen and elastin, which are responsible for making your skin firm and youthful. Muscles also deteriorate with age, leaving skin less taut, especially in the face. Finally, gravity weighs everything down, so naturally it plays a role in loosening your skin.

Continue Learning about Anti-Aging Skin Care

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.