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Loose skin can be frustrating and have an impact on self-esteem. While there are many ways you can develop loose skin, once you have it, it can be difficult to reverse.

Causes of loose skin can include:

  • weight loss
  • pregnancy
  • the effects of aging

Common places people experience loose skin include the:

  • stomach
  • face
  • neck
  • buttocks
  • arms
  • legs

While cosmetic surgery can help improve loose skin, many options exist for people who would rather avoid medical procedures.

These options include:

  • exercise
  • firming products
  • nonsurgical procedures
  • weight loss
  • massage

Here are six ways you can tighten loose skin.

A good choice for a firming cream is one that contains retinoids, says Dr. Alyson Wells, owner and medical director, Valley Plastic Surgery and Medi-spa.

Retinoids are chemical derivatives of vitamin A and include:

  • tretinoin
  • retinoic acid
  • adapalene

They increase the proliferation, maturation, and turnover of skin cells, says Wells.

She also suggests using creams that contain hyaluronic acid, which attracts and holds onto water molecules. Hyaluronic helps:

  • reduce the depth of wrinkles
  • increase skin firmness
  • diminish skin roughness

Wells recommends avoiding skincare products that include lanolin due to the steady increase in the rate of contact dermatitis (allergic skin reaction) associated with it.

Here are a few creams to try that include retinoids and hyaluronic acid:

YEOUTH Day/Night Cream

  • Details: YEOUTH Day/Night Cream is a lightweight anti-aging moisturizer that’s safe for all skin types.
  • Cost: $$

Open Formula Retinoid Cream

  • Details: Open Formula Retinoid Cream targets nearly all signs of aging, including fine lines, uneven skin tone, and dull, uneven texture.
  • Cost: $$

Nalani Hyaluronic Acid Face Cream

  • Details: Nalani Hyaluronic Acid Face Cream can be used on the face and neck to hydrate and nourish the skin.
  • Cost: $$

REN Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti-Aging Cream

  • Details: REN Clean is safe for all skin types and is dermatologist tested.
  • Cost: $$$

Emepelle Night Cream

  • Details: Emepelle contains a unique combination of retinoids to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Cost: $$$

While there’s no magic pill to fix loose skin, certain supplements may be helpful.

Here are a few hyaluronic acid supplements to try:

Toniiq Hyaluronic Acid

  • Details: Toniiq capsules are ethically sourced, grown, and produced using a fermented production process to ensure 95% standardized purity.
  • Cost: $

NOW Hyaluronic Acid Double Strength

  • Details: NOW Double Strength capsules are free of soy, sugar, nuts, gluten, and dairy.
  • Cost: $$

Pure Encapsulations

  • Details: Hyaluronic Acid capsules from Pure Encapsulations are non-GMO, gluten free, and hypoallergenic.
  • Cost: $$

Hyaluronic Acid by Pure Organic Ingredients

  • Details: Pure contains undiluted hyaluronic acid and is free of magnesium and rice fillers.
  • Cost: $$$

Building muscle mass through weight training exercises can help decrease the appearance of loose skin, especially if the loose skin is from weight loss.

If excess fat distends the skin for a long time, the skin can lose some of its ability to shrink with weight loss. Replacing that lost fat with muscle mass can lessen the appearance of loose skin.

If you have loose skin from a recent pregnancy consult a doctor before exercising as there could be certain moves you should avoid.

One form of exercise that’s not proven to be effective for loose skin is facial exercise.

While facial exercises have been popular since the 1960s, there’s little research to support that these exercises actually help tighten loose skin.

Stubborn fat under the skin can make skin appear loose. This type of fat is called subcutaneous fat.

If you pinch the problematic area and there are more than a few millimeters of skin, then there’s subcutaneous fat present. Losing that fat could firm the skin.

Massaging loose skin can increase blood flow and help evoke an anti-aging response.

One study analyzed the effects of skin massage in conjunction with an anti-aging skin cream.

The study showed that regular massage with a hand-operated oscillating massage tool amplified the positive effects of the cream.

Alongside massage, you can also use a salt or sugar scrub to increase blood flow.

Many nonsurgical procedures can help with loose skin.

These procedures include:

  • Chemical peels. The removal of the outer layer of old skin can decrease the appearance of loose, sagging, or wrinkled skin on the face and neck. Once the old skin peels off, the skin underneath is usually less wrinkled and smoother.
  • Ablative laser resurfacing. This procedure is also known as “laser peeling.” It’s similar to a chemical peel because it removes the outermost layer of old skin. The laser also warms the layers underneath the top layer. This heat promotes collagen production.
  • Ultrasound skin tightening. This procedure uses heat to stimulate collagen production. Focused ultrasound energy is transmitted through the skin’s surface to heat deeper layers.
  • Radiofrequency treatments. This is another form of safe energy transfer that heats the skin to induce collagen production. This method focuses on the skin’s outer layer.
  • IPL/RF combination treatments. These treatments combine intense pulsed light (IPL) and radiofrequency (RF). The process heats outer and deeper skin layers to facilitate collagen production.
  • Neuromodulators. This treatment is often referred to as Botox. The toxin botulinum, known to relax wrinkles, is injected into the skin. While this isn’t the most holistic procedure, it requires minimal recovery time and reduces the appearance of loose skin when injected in certain areas where muscles work in opposition to each other.

These are all examples of minimally invasive, nonsurgical techniques for reducing loose skin. There are also surgeries to remove loose skin. These are known as body-contouring surgeries.

Body-contouring can also be referred to as tuck or lift surgeries. They involve an incision and the removal of extra fat and skin. These surgeries usually require a hospital stay followed by recovery time at home.

If other loose-skin tightening techniques do not provide the results you’re looking for, you may choose to consult with a doctor to see if body-contouring is the right choice for you.

Loose skin can be problematic, but there are multiple ways to minimize or reduce it.

Collagen is a huge factor in the skin’s elasticity. Boosting your body’s collagen production is one way to reduce loose skin.

You can also take actions to prevent developing loose skin, such as avoiding:

  • smoking
  • tanning
  • using skin products with harsh chemicals