Skin Elasticity: The Key To Great Liposuction Results
One significant factor in producing excellent liposuction results that many patients may not recognize is skin elasticity.
What Is Skin Elasticity?
Skin elasticity is a common term for the ability of the skin to stretch and then return to a normal state after the need to stretch is removed. The level of elasticity is determined primarily by collagen and elastin, two proteins that naturally occur in the skin. Skin with high levels of these proteins is more firm, plump, and youthful in appearance.
As we naturally age the production of collagen and elastin slows, and the existing proteins within our skin begins to deteriorate in a process known as elastosis. Without these proteins, elasticity declines as the tightly-knit network of fibers beneath the epidermis begins to loosen. Skin with a low level of elasticity is prone to laxity, leading to sagging and the development of lines and wrinkles.
Unhealthy habits can accelerate elastosis and skin laxity. Some of these include tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and an unbalanced diet high in sugars and processed foods. Overexposure to UV rays is another significant factor affecting elasticity, which is one of many reasons why practicing safe sun protection is so important.
How Elasticity Effects Liposuction
Higher skin elasticity is key for optimal liposuction results, especially in areas prone to laxity, such as the abdomen and the neck. Simply put, the skin needs to snap back into place after undergoing the dramatic contouring effects of liposuction.
For patients with lower elasticity, the process of removing fat from under the skin can further destabilize the underlying framework of the skin. In this instance, liposuction may actually worsen the silhouette as the skin can appear loose and droopy after the volume is removed. A procedure to target and remove excess skin, such as a neck lift or abdominoplasty, could lead to more cosmetically appealing results in these patients.
The Pinch Test
Highly elastic skin springs back to normal after being pulled, while skin with a lower elasticity will remain out of place. During your liposuction consultation, your provider may perform the “pinch test” by pinching and holding the skin for 5 seconds and then monitoring the time it takes to flatten back out. The longer it takes the skin to return to place, the higher its laxity and lower its elasticity.
Ways To Improve Elasticity
There are several ways to slow down elastosis and potentially improve your skin’s elasticity, including:
- Sun Care: Avoid overexposing your skin by practicing excellent sun protection. Always wear a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen, avoid being outdoors during peak UV hours, refrain from any form of tanning, and wear a wide brimmed hat and UV-proof clothing while outside.
- Smoking: If you are a current smoker, quit now! Quitting will help improve the elasticity of your skin (making you a better candidate for cosmetic procedures) and will improve your overall health.
- Alcohol: As posted in this previous article, overindulgence in alcohol negatively impacts the skin. Try to maintain a minimal to moderate level of alcohol consumption.
- Healthy Diet: Avoid unhealthy foods that are processed, deep fried, or high in fat or sugar. Rather, focus on a diet of healthful foods rich in Vitamin A, beta-carotene and antioxidants, all of which help block free radicals and preserve skin health.
- Cosmetic Treatments: There are a number of professional resurfacing procedures that can help boost elasticity including microdermabrasion, micro-needling, and laser therapy. These treatments create controlled micro-damage to the skin, which promotes healing by stimulating the body to create more natural collagen.