How to Tighten Skin

Treatments for Loose Skin on the Body or Face

Loose skin can develop for many reasons. Chief among them is age. As you get older, your skin loses its elasticity and begins to sag. Skin can also sag or loosen after giving birth, after surgery, or with substantial weight loss.  

Treating loose skin can involve home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) therapies, and prescriptions. A specialist may also suggest medical treatments or surgical procedures. Prevention is key—and even if your skin has already started to sag a little, you can take some steps to prevent progression.

Woman pulling back skin on face and looking in the mirror

RealPeopleGroup / Getty Images

Home Remedies

The appearance of your skin is partially influenced by genetics. But there are things you can do to prevent loose, sagging skin. A healthy diet, proper hydration, consistent use of sunscreen, and getting regular exercise may help improve the look of your skin.

If your skin has started sagging, there’s no such thing as a facelift in a jar. Many products on the market claim they can help reduce the signs of aging and firm up the skin. Creams, lotions, and serums can hydrate your skin and improve its appearance temporarily, but they don't deliver permanent results and they won't reverse changes that have already happened.

Certain supplements may help tighten the skin. Collagen peptides, for instance, may help protect skin-related moisture loss and improve collagen production.

The Importance of Sunscreen

Sun damage can significantly affect the appearance of your skin and increases your risk of skin cancer. The best thing you can do for your skin is to protect it from the sun’s rays. Wear sunscreen on its own or under makeup.

Other environmental factors and lifestyle habits that can negatively impact the look of your skin include:

  • Smoking
  • Pollution
  • Stress 

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies 

OTC therapies are those that don’t require a doctor’s prescription. Most OTC skin-tightening products are labeled as beauty products. 

Topical products that claim to help tighten skin include those with:

  • Retinoids (vitamin A)
  • Other antioxidants: Vitamin C and vitamin E

Experts explain that skin tightening products don’t actually reverse skin sagging. They often moisturize the skin, leaving it looking plumper and firmer, but don’t penetrate deeply enough to provide anything beyond temporary results.

That said, topicals with retinoids can stimulate collagen production and help prevent skin loosening or deliver subtle results on already-loosened skin. Research shows that a combo of vitamin C and E is more effective than either used alone.

Research into anti-aging technology is ongoing, so there’s always a possibility that new, more effective products will find their way onto the market in the future.

Be Careful With Topicals

Even though they don't require a prescription, it's essential to follow directions carefully when applying products containing these ingredients. Some people may experience skin reactions from using high concentrations. People with sensitive skin should perform a patch test before applying creams and lotions to a larger area. 

Prescriptions

Highly concentrated anti-aging products are available by prescription. You can get prescription-strength retinoids from a dermatologist, for example, but expect them to be very expensive if your health insurance plan does not cover them.

Additionally, because they're very potent, prescription-strength products may cause skin irritation. Be sure to talk to your doctor about warning signs of adverse reactions.

Surgeries and Specialists

Here are some of the treatments that a specialist may suggest for those seeking tighter skin:

  • Ultrasound therapy: This type of treatment directs heat deep under the skin, stimulating collagen production. You can expect to see modest results within several months post-treatment. Ultrasound is non-invasive, but you may experience some discomfort during and after treatment.
  • Botulism toxin injections: Botox injections are commonly used in the facial area to reduce the signs of aging and manage the look of wrinkles and facial lines. The effects last for a few months, and you would need to repeat the treatment if you want to see effects again. Botox injections have minimal side effects. Always visit a qualified professional to get botox injections—this can reduce the risk of side effects from poorly administered injections.
  • Laser resurfacing: Laser resurfacing is one of the most effective skin tightening treatments, and it’s also a treatment that delivers quick results. It’s more invasive than ultrasound therapy and requires some recovery. It tightens the skin and helps reduce hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and fine lines. There’s also a risk of scarring with this procedure.  
  • Chemical peels: A chemical peel is a procedure that stimulates the growth of new skin cells by sloughing away the top layers. Some chemical peels go deeper than others. The deeper a peel, the higher the risk of adverse effects such as hyperpigmentation or infection.
  • Facelift: There are multiple types and methods when it comes to facelifts. There’s no evidence that one type is superior to the other. A facelift is an effective but invasive procedure that requires a significant recovery period. There are many risks involved with a facelift, as there are with any invasive surgery.
  • Surgery to remove excess skin after bariatric surgery: Extra skin can appear after rapid weight loss or weight loss surgery. Panniculectomy is a surgical procedure that is done to tighten areas where the skin has loosened. It may produce scarring and requires a lengthy recovery period.
  • Platelet-rich plasma: This treatment involves injections, usually in the lower eyelid area, to improve the look of skin and reverse solar elastosis, which is yellowing and thickening of the skin that results from sun damage.

Am I a Good Candidate for Skin Tightening?

Interested in booking a skin tightening procedure? You’re a good candidate if you:


  • Are generally healthy
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t drink (or drink minimally)
  • Regularly use sunscreen
  • Don’t have extreme skin sagging 


People who are pregnant, taking certain drugs, or have any active skin infections cannot have skin tightening procedures.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

There’s some evidence that massage may help boost the production of connective tissues like collagen and improve the elasticity of skin, which, in turn, can help it stay firm. One study from 2017 found that massaging the skin with a special device had a noticeable anti-wrinkle effect.

As mentioned previously, exercise can help you maintain healthy skin. One 2016 study suggests that yoga may have potential anti-aging benefits because of its antioxidant effects on the body. However, more research is needed to understand the link between yoga and skin health.

A Word From Verywell

Loose skin isn’t dangerous, and you don’t need to treat it if it’s not bothering you. That said, it can have a real impact on your self-esteem. 

When considering a skin tightening treatment, it’s important to evaluate how severe the problem is. Excess loose skin after weight loss surgery may require a more invasive treatment option than a minor loss of skin elasticity on the face. 

If you’re looking to prevent or treat loose skin, consider non-invasive options before jumping right to surgery, which can take a while to recover from and pose health risks. Still not sure how to go about tightening your skin? Talk to a dermatologist to find out your options.  

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Article Sources
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