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Breakthrough reseach for sagging skin

Lymphatic system and sagging skin
July 30, 2015 Reviewed by Marta 5 Comments

Breakthrough research may have found the cause of sagging skin. The surprising results from scientists in Japan have to do with fat and the lymphatic system.

Sagging has traditionally been attributed to a decrease in collagen and/or elastin. However, Professor Takakura of Osaka University in Japan had the notion that sagging skin might be related to the lymphatic vessels.

Lymphatic vessels, which are indispensable in collecting water and waste products, play important roles in the maintenance of healthy skin. And it has long been known that reduced lymphatic function can lead to inflammation and wrinkles. Prof Takakura has found that fatty acids present in the lumph can leak if the lymphatic system is destabilized. The subcutaneous fat accumulates in the sagging parts of the skin. It should be noted that the Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido sponsored the research.

It has been found that apelin can suppress this leakage and the accumulation of subcutaneous fat. Apelin is a human peptide comprising of amino acids (I'm not able to say which ones or how many since I have seen references ranging from 13 to 777).

Anyway, the next step was to find something that could be added to cosmetics that could mimic apelin to enhance lymphatic function. It turned out to be pine cone extract, from Pinus Sylvestris (Scots pine). The Japanese researchers found it had the same ability to bind to a receptor in the cell membrane of lymphatic cells, and stabilize the lymphatic vessels. Tests were conducted for two months with a trial product formulated with cone pine extract and showed a reduction of nasolabial and facial lines, as well as neck sagging.

I suppose I’ll get no prizes for predicting that pine cone extract will start popping up in Shiseido products. In the meantime, I wondered where else I could turn to keep my lymphatic system in shape and prevent (or even reverse) sagging skin. It turns out that there are quite a few options, some of which have the added bonus of boosting collagen and I even found a botanical extract (lupein) that may give those pine cones a run for their money.

Microcurrent and ultrasound

If you’ve noticed that our at-home devices are a key weapon in the fight against sagging – I certainly swear by them – it is no coincidence. Not only do microcurrent and ultrasound boost the production of collagen and elastin, they increase blood and lymphatic circulation.  For more on ultrasound, see our LED and ultrasound device, Truth Vitality Lux Renew.


Red Flower reminded me with its Lymphatic Phytopower Sea Cleanser and Masque ($42 in the shop) that beta-glucans stimulate blood circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage. Red Flower’s come from mushrooms.  Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum ($32.99) has oat-derived beta-glucan.

Featuring prominently in La Vie Celeste Eclairage Restorative Serum, beta-glucan isn’t the only ingredient here that helps prevent sagging skin, there’s also a peptide called caprooyl tetrapeptide-3 (also known as ChroNoline).

Stemulation’s Boost Crème ($75-$140) also gives beta-glucan pride of place. And you will be impressed by our reviewer’s before and after pictures.


Hydrolyzed lupine protein is high in amino acids, and according to Osmotics, along with alfalfa seeds, it promotes lymphatic drainage. Find them in Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Prime Eye ($98).

And if all else fails, you can safely fall back on our Five Best for sagging skin


  • May 1, 2017

    by PAMELA G

    Very interesting article. Always want to know as much about anti-sagging ingredients and products as possible!! Coincidentally, I was taking a look at YBF Refresh Eye cream since I needed something with a lighter weight especially for daytime. Surprised to find that it appears to include the lupine ingredient referenced in this TIA article. When looking at the Refresh ingredients, I saw that it contains "Collageneer". Never heard of this before, so I looked it up. From the Lotioncrafter website: Collageneer® is made from lupeol, which is extracted from the coatings of sweet white lupin seeds in a patented process. Once extracted, the lupeol is solubilized in oleic sunflower oil and then semi-refined and stabilized by adding natural α-tocopherol. Sourced from lupine plants cultivated using sustainable agricultural practices in France.

  • July 31, 2015

    by Christina

    Life Extension has been saying this for several years :

  • July 31, 2015

    by Marta

    Hi Ro, without knowing which brand you are using I cannot advise you specifically. I am sure that the manufacturer will give you this information. In general, however, human conditioned media is synthesized in a lab. Typically, it is synthesized from a progenitor cell that was taken either from adult adipose fat of from a baby's foreskin. You can read more in our article here:

  • July 30, 2015

    by Naheed

    Very informative and interesting article Marta. Speaking of Japan, if you are into facial exercise, you should read this book.

    The Japanese Skincare Revolution: How to Have the Most Beautiful Skin of Your Life--At Any Age By Chizu Saeki

    I haven't read the whole book, but in the beginning there are simple exercises to promote collagen and tighten skin. I am sure you'll find it interesting.

  • July 30, 2015

    by Ro

    I recently started using a serum with Human conditioned growth medium. I am now concerned where these cells are derived from? Do you know where they get the cells?

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