Skin Laxity- Why It's Important and What You Need to know
As someone who talks to many plastic surgeons, there's a term I keep hearing: skin laxity. I've interviewed several plastic surgeons on various topics ranging from full mommy makeovers to noninvasive laser skin tightening, and skin laxity comes up often.
According to Merriam-Webster, laxity is the quality or state of being loose. Factors that contribute to skin laxity include aging, genetics, stress, sun exposure, weight fluctuations, and smoking which reduce the collagen and elastin in our skin.
The degree to which skin is tight or loose is a significant factor in the body's response to certain aesthetic procedures. So it's important to understand what it is.
Why Ask Your Surgeon about Skin Laxity
Factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and age contribute to your skin’s ability to adhere to the shape of the muscle (or fat) beneath. Decreasing the fat inside your body is great, but if your skin just sags and doesn't cling to your new shape the results from your surgical procedure won’t be satisfactory. That's why the subject of skin laxity should come up when consulting with your board-certified plastic surgeon on any potential aesthetic treatment.
Following a liposuction procedure, if your skin is excessively lax, your plastic surgeon might recommend a tummy tuck to tighten up the skin and reveal your enhanced body shape.
In addition to skin laxity, skin texture and tone matter in your body's response to invasive and non-invasive treatments. I consulted with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Adam Rubinstein to find out how.
"All too often people think about getting a lift without really paying attention to everything that is going on with their skin. There are three main components to making a good diagnosis on your skin’s state of affairs: texture, turgor (the extent of dehydration in the body) and laxity. While laxity is a huge part of rejuvenation it’s not the only part,” he notes. “Think about someone who has had a facelift and has nice firm facial and neck skin. If the surface texture isn’t good that’s the first thing people will see. If the turgor isn’t great, that person might find their way back to the operating room for another lift sooner than they expected.”
So when you’re thinking about having a procedure to improve things, make sure you have a good idea of the state of your skin. Take a look at the surface, get a sense for the firmness of the skin, and of course, expect to discuss tightening options if there is laxity.
"One common mistake is looking for liposuction when there is hanging skin. Liposuction, even laser assisted, will not tighten saggy skin. If you have true laxity, you need to explore skin tightening procedures. That usually means surgical procedures like a tummy tuck or facelift/neck lift,” explains Dr. Rubinstein. “If you’re not willing to undergo surgical procedures, consider nonsurgical skin tightening options such as ThermiTight, Ulthera and Pelleve. ThermiTight can be done for the neck, tummy, arms, thighs, even for vaginal tightening (a completely new use, and very effective). However, don’t expect a tummy tuck kind of result with a minimally invasive approach."
While we as patients may be focused on the last bit of bulge that we want to lipo or Coolsculpt out, a board-certified plastic surgeon has a better understanding of the human anatomy, the factors that contribute to the ideal result, and will make the best comprehensive recommendation.