Produced by fibroblasts, elastin is an important protein that enables our skin to return to its original shape after it stretches or contracts. Elastin fibers are like little rubber bands in the connective tissue throughout our bodies. Eventually, the fibers lose their ability to snap back.
Through the years, there are many things that can take a toll on your skin, including the sun, bad habits, and pollution. Exposure to these elements can damage the elastin fibers in your skin, which causes the skin to sag and stretch.
Loose skin and tissue under the upper arm area due to damaged elastin is a common issue. Flabby upper arm skin may make you feel reluctant to wear sleeveless shirts and swimsuits. Factors that contribute to sagging underarm skin include aging, smoking, genetics, and weight loss.
When your weight fluctuates, it can break or weaken the elastin fibers in the dermis, which results in the loss of tensile strength. Therefore, the skin is unable to bounce back and regain its original shape, similarly to when a rubber brand is stretched beyond its limit. If you lose weight and simultaneously lose muscle mass, this leads to a loss of tone that causes the skin in the underarm area to appear flaccid.
Here are some tips for avoiding and treating sagging underarm skin.
Prevent sun damage
A common cause of premature aging and sagging skin is sun damage. Protect your skin with sunblock when you’re outdoors and avoid sun exposure during peak mid-day hours, or between 11am and 2pm. You can also cover up and wear a hat to avoid sun exposure.
Sun damage has a direct impact on the DNA of your skin. UVA/UVB radiation destroys collagen and alters the DNA of your skin, causing premature cellular death.
Underarm surgery, also known as brachioplasty or arm lift surgery, consists of tightening loose, sagging skin and removing excess fat deposits in the upper arm that develop as you age. In most cases, patients seek brachioplasty for aesthetic reasons, but in some cases, the skin sags so much that it creates “bat wings”, which can restrict motion and interfere with the use of your arms.
Brachioplasty is only recommended for patients who are in good health and who don’t have any serious diseases or pre-existing medical conditions. It’s also important to understand that the surgery will leave a large scar from your armpit to your elbow, so you shouldn’t undergo this operation unless you feel comfortable having such a large scar.
Laser liposuction treatment
If you have minimal skin laxity, an excellent way to contour the skin under the upper arm area is with laser liposuction treatment. For patients who can’t seem to get the contours they want through exercise alone, laser liposuction can be used to add definition. An additional benefit of laser liposuction is that it stimulates collagen growth and tightens the skin.
Ideal candidates for laser liposuction are patients who just have a little bit of fat under their arms. For those who have lost a significant amount of weight, brachioplasty may be more appropriate.
Avoid eating fatty and processed foods, as well as foods high in sugar. A diet high in sugar leads to elevated insulin levels, which causes inflammation and early cellular damage.
Your plate should always have an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables, which contain nutrients that are vital to skin health. Eat foods rich in lycopene, which offsets the damage caused by UV rays. Foods that are rich in lycopene include red pepper, pink grapefruit, tomatoes, and other red-hued fruits and vegetables. Foods that are rich in vitamin C, like leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, contain vitamin C, which is great for building up the collagen in your skin.
Drink plenty of water
Skin cells are made up of water, so without water, your skin cells cannot function optimally. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin will become dry, wrinkly, and flaky, and it will lose its resilience and become more prone to wrinkling.
After sun damage, smoking is the second most common cause of premature aging. Avoid both smoking and secondhand smoke. Smoking makes your skin less resilient, reduces collagen levels, increases the level of inflammatory proteins in your skin, and contributes to wrinkles and thin skin.
Take a hydrolyzed collagen supplement
Collagen is a structural protein found in animal connective tissue. The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen is a major structural component of the skin. Collagen is known as a super molecule because it is so large, with a molecular weight of 300,000 Daltons. Collagen is found in animal meat, but hydrolyzed collagen is far more absorbable by the body because the collagen molecules are so tiny. Hydrolysis breaks collagen super molecules down into small, bioavailable components with an average molecular weight of 5000 Daltons.
When you take a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, it reaches the small intestine and then is absorbed into the bloodstream as free amino acids and small peptides. These small collagen peptides and amino acids are distributed throughout the body and dermis through blood vessels. Once in the dermis, the collagen peptides and free amino acids stimulate collagen and elastin production in fibroblasts.
Various clinical studies have demonstrated that taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement can reduce wrinkles and boost skin elasticity. Take at least 10,000mg of collagen per day for eight weeks in order to achieve visible results.
Lose weight slowly
If you are trying to lose weight, do not lose more than 1-2 pounds per week. It’s also important to have a nutritious and protein-packed diet while you’re losing weight in order to preserve your muscle mass. Additionally, incorporate strength training into your routine.
Engaging in aerobic exercise and strength training can help to reduce upper arm flabbiness. The muscles on the back of your arms are called triceps. To tone your triceps, try doing push-ups and other tricep-building exercises.
The following tricep exercises from celebrity trainer Edwina Cheer can help you get rid of sagging skin and tone your arms.
1. Rope Pushdown
Do this with ropes or some resistance bands looped over a hard surface. Stand with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and feet shoulder width apart.
Push the rope downward while keeping your elbows close to your body. Straighten out your arms and squeeze your triceps.
Do this movement 10 times then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times. Bye-bye bingo arms!
2. Tricep Extension
Do this exercise with a dumbbell or any weighted object you have around the house. Stand with your elbows bent back behind the head while holding the dumbbell.
Lift the dumbbell up and squeeze your triceps at the same time. Try and complete this movement 10 times then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
3. Bench Dips
Do this with a chair or bench. Start with your feet straight ahead of you. Pop your elbows on top of the chair or bench with your palms facing down.
While keeping your core tight and using your body weight, drop your buttocks down toward the floor while simultaneously bending your elbows.
Squeeze your triceps and pop back up to starting position. Do this movement 10 times and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
4. Tricep Kickbacks
This exercise can be completed with two light dumbbells. While in standing position, hold the dumbbells with your body bent over and your elbows at 90 degrees.
Then, "kick" your elbows back and squeeze those tuckshop arms away by locking the elbows out briefly.
Come back to starting position. Do this movement 10 times and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
5. Tricep/Diamond Pushup
Start in plank position with your palms facing down on the floor. Your index fingers and thumbs should touch to make a triangle.
Once you feel stable in this position, use your body weight to bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor. Put your chest as close to the floor as you can without falling down completely onto the mat.
Then, push away from the mat and raise your body up again to starting position. Do this movement 10 times and then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
There’s no way to avoid the eventual loss of skin tone that occurs as you age, but by taking the preventive measures above, you can do your best to preserve your youthful appearance for decades to come and age with grace.