Lymphatic system and sagging skin

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 in the shop) 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 in the shop) 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