Loose or sagging skin on the legs is often caused by rapid weight loss, however excessive sun exposure and aging can contribute to sagging skin as well. After weight loss, especially if it was rapid, the elastin and collagen in the skin can break down causing it to sag. These natural skin fibers can also break down as you age. Various creams and serums, exercises and other treatments can help reduce sagging leg skin or at least help reduce its appearance.
When skin is sagging in the legs, building the muscles underneath can help firm up the skin and give your legs a more toned appearance. Jogging or bike riding for at least 30 minutes a day three to four days per week are both good leg exercises. Squats and leg lifts can help tighten your butt and leg muscles. Do two or three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions every day.
Creams and Lotions
Vitamin E, vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acid all have skin firming properties. In addition, coconut oil and shea or cocoa butter are all excellent vehicles for replenishing moisture in the skin. If you have sagging skin that is not hanging in folds off your legs, you might find that combining a new moisturizer with some or all of these qualities with regular exercise can improve your skin firmness. Drinking a lot of water can also help rehydrate your skin, giving it a plumper appearance.
There are several ways to approach skin tightening with a dermatologist if exercise and creams fail. Several different procedures are available for skin tightening without plastic surgery. Although some of these are more suitable for facial applications, they can be adapted for the legs. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), radiofrequency works the same way your microwave does. It heats up your skin enough to stimulate firming. Pulsed light treatments can also repair your skin by converting the light to heat. Consult a dermatologist to determine if one of these might be beneficial to your skin.
A lower-body lift can be performed surgically to help remove loose skin and firm up the skin that remains on your legs. In a lift, the loose skin is removed, according to the ASAPS, as well as the fat tissue underneath. This allows the "remaining tissue to stretch and smooth around the lower body, especially the buttocks and thighs." There are thin scars left over from the surgery, but these can usually be hidden by clothing. Talk over any surgical options with your dermatologist and your plastic surgeon before proceeding, especially if you have not yet lost all of the weight you intend to lose.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.