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5 Ways Your Skin Changes as You Age

Your Skin Begins Sagging
Early and aggressive preventative measures can reduce excessive skin sagging as you enter your later years.
Early and aggressive preventative measures can reduce excessive skin sagging as you enter your later years.
B2M Productions/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

As we grow from childhood to adulthood, we get taller and bigger. But bit by bit, the law of gravity eventually takes hold, pulling us back downward. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in the way our skin begins to sag, creating hanging jowls and drooping noses.

This sagging is partly due to the aforementioned thinning of the skin that takes place during the aging process. Decreasing levels of skin fat, collagen and elastin mean sagging skin becomes more prominent all over the body. However, these changes are especially evident in facial features, which dangle and wiggle more than they did when you were younger.

There are plenty of causes for sagging skin. For example, if you've experienced significant weight changes during your life, your skin loses its elasticity sooner and shows more stretch marks and drooping.

Also, as you age, lymphatic drainage (which rids your body of toxins) decreases, resulting in breakdown of support structures that keep skin firm. In women, estrogen production decreases; the hormone helps keep the skin tight. And of course, smoking is an all-around unhealthy habit that also happens to degrade collagen and dehydrate the deeper layers of your skin.

The best way to slow the saggy face effect is simply to take good care of your skin when you're younger. If you're really concerned about sagging facial skin, you can visit a cosmetic surgeon, who may inject an inert filler that rounds out some of your features. Some of these surgeons recommend starting these treatments very early, with the rationale that stopping excessive sagging sooner prevents some drooping spots as you age. These kinds of treatments can be very expensive, however, and may not be covered by your health insurance.

What's more, these injections may be of limited long-term use. That's because deterioration of bone infrastructure of the face contributes to facial sagging, too. Your eye sockets, jaw and cheek bones wear down with age, something filler injections alone can't overcome. Some patients opt for bone implants, a more serious procedure with equally serious potential side effects. Others prefer facelifts, a skin-tightening operation that requires several weeks of recovery time.