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How to Tighten Skin on Your Body: 10 Powerful Skin-Tightening Solutions

As we age, so does our skin. But that’s not the only thing that causes skin to lose tightness. Diet, lifestyle, and daily behaviors can all have an impact. If you are looking for skin-tightening solutions, read on. We’ve highlighted a number of options, ranging from daily behavior changes to cosmetic procedures and surgery.

What can cause skin to lose its tightness?

While aging plays a role in losing skin tightness, it isn’t the only factor. Significant weight loss, genetics, and behaviors like smoking or sun exposure can also play a role.

If you have recently lost a lot of weight, you’re likely wondering how to tighten skin. You might feel that your skin is looser and less tight than it was before the weight loss. This is because collagen and elastin, the two proteins responsible for maintaining tighter skin, become damaged when skin is stretched for a long time. When you lose weight, the collagen and elastin fibers lose some of their ability to retract. And if you’ve undergone weight loss surgery, research also shows that you will probably have a decrease in newly formed collagen and elastic fibers.

In addition to weight loss, smoking, sun exposure, and aging all contribute to sagging skin. Research shows that smoking, which is well-known to damage skin, also hurts existing collagen and reduces collagen production. Excessive sun exposure has similar effects. In addition, our body’s collagen production slows as we age. 

Even though there are many factors that contribute to skin losing its tightness, there are ways to prevent, and even tighten, loose skin.    

Exercise

Regular exercise is known to benefit both body and mind. It can also be part of a strategy for getting rid of loose skin. 

Exercise is a great option for tightening loose skin, especially after weight loss. In addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, keeping energy levels high, improving mood and memory, and a host of other benefits, exercise also helps tighten skin. And while all exercise is good for your skin, the best kind for skin tightening is strength training. That’s because lifting weights builds muscle. The more muscle mass you have, the naturally tighter skin becomes. While exercise may not be a cure-all for sagging skin, it can certainly be one helpful option.    

Stay hydrated

Getting enough water every day is part of any good wellness routine. It can also help keep your skin looking younger. A study showed that increasing your daily intake of water has a direct impact on your skin’s appearance. Wrinkles and a loss of tightness are also more noticeable when your skin is not properly hydrated.   

Exfoliate your skin

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, speeding up the skin’s repair process and helping new skin cells emerge. Regular exfoliation can also help tighten skin. There are different types of exfoliators to choose from. Facial exfoliators are generally gentler and made with finer grains than body exfoliators. Body brushes also exfoliate the skin through a process called dry brushing. Ask your dermatologist before trying a peeling procedure. Dermatologists can also help advise you about other possible options according to your skin type.

Use the right body moisturizers

Using the right body moisturizer can also be part of your daily skin-tightening plan. There are a number of moisturizers that claim to improve sagging skin, but what specifically should you be looking for? The good news is that there are a number of firming moisturizers at different price points that will fit any budget. Several natural products in skincare (e.g., caffeine or tannase-converted green tea extract) purportedly help prevent skin elasticity loss, but there’s no high-quality evidence to support the use of any of such topical preparations.

Massage your skin

In addition to its restorative and relaxing qualities, massage may also help tighten skin, by improving circulation and blood flow. One study showed that getting a massage after applying moisturizer can help the moisturizer work better.   

Undergo cosmetic procedures

There are a number of nonsurgical, noninvasive techniques available for skin tightening. Also called body-contouring procedures, these offer improvements without undergoing surgery. 

  • Radiofrequency, which is frequently done on the upper arms or neck area, can be used over or under the skin. In an over-the-skin treatment, a dermatologist will place a device on the skin, heating the skin tissue to induce collagen production in deep layers of the skin. Thin needles or tubes can also be inserted under the skin, more closely targeting areas that need tightening. 
  • Laser treatment (also known as laser peeling or ablative laser resurfacing) can reduce facial wrinkles, scars, and blemishes. In a series of three to five treatments, a specialist will direct pulsating beams of light deep into your body without damaging the surface skin. While it can be used all over the body, it is often applied to the stomach and upper arms, stimulating collagen production.
  • Ultrasound is another method for sending heat into tissues, helping them produce more collagen. Some find that just one treatment brings noticeable results.
  • Laser and intense pulse light (IPL) treatments use IPL with radiofrequency. The two methods help heat both outer and deeper tissues, increasing collagen production. 

Before having any procedure, speak to a dermatologist and ask questions. The specialist will be able to tell you what treatment is suitable for you.

Some of these procedures, such as ultrasound, are short (typically an hour), with few if any side effects aside from slight discomfort, redness, and swelling. Others require sedation but still have less downtime or side effects than surgery. Some procedures may produce noticeable results afterward, but most results appear over time.       

Consider surgery as a last resort

If you’ve had a gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery, you may be at a loss for how to tighten loose skin after your weight loss. If other methods have failed, surgery can be an option. Surgery is the most expensive of all the solutions, but according to some studies, it has helped patients feel as though their quality of life has improved.

During body-contouring surgery, fat and skin are removed from a large incision made in the targeted area. These surgeries are done on specific areas of the body, including:

  • Lower body lift — Removes fat and skin from the hips, thighs, stomach, and butt
  • Upper body lift — Removes fat and skin from areas of the back and breasts
  • Arm lift (brachioplasty) — Removes fat and skin from around the upper arms
  • Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) — Removes fat and excess loose skin and tightens the abdominal muscles

Often, patients opt to get surgeries done on different body areas over a period of time, typically one to two years. Patients undergoing these surgeries usually stay in the hospital for one to four days, followed by an additional at-home recovery period of up to four weeks. There are also risks, including fluid retention and bleeding.  

Surgery is the most expensive of all the solutions, but according to some studies, it has helped patients feel as though their quality of life has improved.

Please note that all surgical procedures have risks and can cause serious complications. Speak to a specialist about possible options for you.      

Quit smoking

If you’re wondering how to tighten skin after weight loss and are a smoker, now is the time to quit. In addition to increasing the chances of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, smoking damages the skin. By damaging collagen and elastin production, smoking impacts how your skin looks now and how it will look in the future if you continue smoking. Smoking while trying to take steps to tighten skin can effectively undo any benefits you might be able to obtain. Research also backs this up. 

Use sunscreen

Since the sun’s ultraviolet rays prematurely age skin, regularly using sunscreen should be part of any skin regimen. Look for a sunscreen you can use daily, and be sure to apply it to your entire face, throat, and chest, as well as any other exposed areas. 

Avoid sulfate soaps

Sulfates, or sulfur-containing mineral salts, are typically listed on product labels as either sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Produced from petroleum- or plant-based sources like coconut, they create lather in soaps. But why avoid them if you’re concerned about sagging skin? Sulfates can irritate the skin, and they can also penetrate the tissues of the body and accumulate over time. While there isn’t a totally clear link between sulfates and sagging skin, avoiding products containing them certainly can’t hurt. 

The takeaway

When it comes to tightening skin, it helps to use a wide variety of techniques. Strength training and avoiding skin-damaging behaviors should all be part of an overall healthy skin regimen. As a bonus, drinking more water, using sunscreen, and exercising all benefit your physical and mental health. For those who are looking to tighten skin after weight loss, if natural options do not work, cosmetic procedures or surgery are also options. Consulting with a dermatologist is the best way to find out what skin-tightening option would be suitable for you.

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