Cutaneous laxity is due to a progressive loss in collagen and elastin. It can be combated by a combination of physical activity, a targeted diet and a healthy lifestyle.
A loss in definition of the facial contour, the onset of a double chin, a neck wrinkles by vertical lines. And then the skin of the thighs and inner arm losing tone, thinning and giving in to gravity’s inexorable pull. These are the unmistakable signs of skin laxity, a condition that slowly but surely creeps into our lives starting from our thirties.
Skin laxity is the clearest and most unequivocal form of aging caused by internal factors, i.e. genetic, metabolic and hormonal in nature. Similarly to all other tissues, skin cells’ metabolism slows down with age, hence tissue turnover occurs in a more gradual way. First and foremost, it must be understood that skin laxity is a complicated condition that cannot be treated only with physical activity or by applying some lotion or other – on the contrary, it requires an integrated approach.
What exactly do we mean with “skin laxity”?
Two distinct conditions fall under this generic term: excess skin, that is non-tight, sagging skin (skin redundancy) and skin flaccidity (elastosis).
Excess skin, i.e. loose, sagging skin, typically occurs after sudden weight loss or pregnancy. In such cases, a progressive detachment and emptying of the subcutaneous panniculus (or hypodermis) occurs. However, despite its limp and sagging appearance, the skin actually still retains its elastic properties and can be returned to its prior physiological and aesthetic condition.
The matter is slightly more problematic when the observed changes in thickness and the loss of tone and elasticity are due to an actual deterioration in skin quality. That is, when the main fibrous proteins (collagen and elastin) and hyaluronic acid are degraded and depleted.
In this case, the viscoelastic properties of the skin are compromised. The cause of this degeneration is in the aging process itself, and often has genetic causes. But it can also depend on the excessive stress produced by repetitive movement: think of the neck or knees. Cutaneous laxity depends on the paucity of muscle- and fat support for the skin.
Elastosis is a degeneration of the elastic fibers present in connective tissue, and especially in the dermis. It is usually secondary to normal senescence (senile elastosis), but it can furthermore be caused by excessive exposure to the sun or to ultraviolet rays (actinic elastosis). The latter condition manifests with highly unsightly symptoms. The decreased production of elastic fibers causes a progressive loss of texture of the dermis, and the skin becomes dry and deeply wrinkly as a result.
How does one fight skin laxity? Three forms of prevention.
Skin laxity is an inevitable process due to natural aging, but this doesn’t mean it cannot be prevented or controlled. In both of the aforementioned cases, the skin must be stimulated to produce new collagen fibers, the protein that makes it elastic and resistant. But how?
Sport, and in particular prolonged, low-impact movement such as running and swimming, stimulates blood flow circulation and effectively perfuses tissues. Combining physical activity with resistance training improves muscle tone, while stretching relaxes the body and lengthens the muscles, contributing to increase skin elasticity.
There are plenty of foods which specifically stimulate collagen synthesis and elastin production. One example are vitamin C-rich foods. Other categories are lysine-rich foods, such as fish, cheese, lentils, peas, nuts and soy-based products; foods rich in manganese (pineapple, walnuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, algae) and copper (walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax and sesame, whole foods).
Smoking, exposure to sunlight without adequate protection, shock diets that make us lose weight only to then gain it all back again: these are bad habits that quickly leave their mark on our skin. Better steer clear.
The methods of aesthetic medicine.
When preventive measures no longer suffice, the methods of aesthetic medicine can be employed. But before resorting to surgical interventions such as facelifts, nowadays one can count on several non-invasive, highly effective methods. Here are the most used aesthetic treatments for curing skin laxity.
Radio frequency: in the form of electromagnetic waves, heat is transmitted to the deep skin layers without affecting the superficial ones. The process denatures collagen fibers, thus stimulating the proliferation of new cells.
Skin biorevitalization: the subcutaneous injection of substances that stimulate the production of new fibroblasts, thus triggering cellular turnover and renewal while stimulating micro-circulation and hydration.
Hyaluronic acid injections: the subcutaneous injection of substances that stimulate the production of new fibroblasts, thus triggering cellular turnover and renewal while stimulating micro-circulation and hydration.