Rationale and Preclinical Evaluation of a Multimodal Topical Body Skincare Product for Toning and Tightening

October 2021 | Volume 20 | Issue 10 | Original Article | 1041 | Copyright © October 2021

Published online September 21, 2021

Kevin Smith MDa, Patrick Nido BSb, Prithwiraj Maitra PhDb, Tsing Cheng PhDb, Kuniko Kadoya PhDb

aCharlotte Plastic Surgery, Charlotte, NC
bAllergan Aesthetics, an AbbVie Company, Irvine, CA

A novel tightening and toning cream (TTC) was designed to improve body skin quality at multiple levels by engaging several key pathways that contribute to skin function, strength, and integrity. Evaluation of gene expression in both human in vitro 3D skin and ex vivo skin treated with TTC demonstrated changes reflecting improved extracellular matrix and dermal integrity, lymphatic drainage, mitigation of inflammation, cellular clearance and recycling, and adipocyte metabolism. This study provides the rationale and preclinical support for the use of TTC as a standalone agent to improve body skin quality or in combination with body contouring procedures.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2021;20(10):1041-1044. doi:10.36849/JDD.6401


As skin ages, naturally or prematurely, it gradually loses its firmness, wrinkles, and/or sags due to deterioration of the dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) that provides support, elasticity, and strength to the skin. Many topical cosmeceuticals are offered as an accessible and consumer-friendly option purported to enhance skin quality by preventing further damage to the ECM, and/or stimulating regeneration, yet the effectiveness is limited with much room for improvement.1 In addition, many products are heavily focused towards rejuvenating facial skin whereas differences in body skin physiology require different needs.2

Our growing knowledge about the biological processes underlying skin damage and homeostasis within the cutaneous microenvironment has yielded new targets for skin rejuvenation. For instance, the microvasculature that shuttles fluids, nutrients, and immune cells is reduced in density and function in chronologically or extrinsically damaged skin.3 Persistent inflammation resulting from an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines is proposed to contribute to the degradation of the ECM. Moreover, a decline in cellular recycling mechanisms allows damaged organelles and macromolecules to accumulate, further propagating inflammation and promoting senescence.4 Therefore, modalities that address multiple aspects of the skin microenvironment in tandem may produce superior results.

Dermal adipocytes represent another compartment for improving skin quality, however, the excess of fat poses as a distinct concern for many individuals. While minimally invasive body contouring procedures can shrink or breakdown fat, a depletion of subcutaneous adipocytes, which provide skin volume and fullness, can leave undesired loose, excess skin. Patients with this concern may achieve a better overall aesthetic result with the addition of a topical product that addresses skin firmness and tightness. Moreover, support to the lymphatic, immune, and intracellular machinery that regulate skin health may also complement body sculpting by clearing the resulting adipocyte debris and edema associated with these procedures. Dermal adipose tissue can also contribute to skin texture, such as with cellulite, a bothersome dimpling of the skin that manifests from enlarged adipocytes extruding through the fibrous septae that anchor the dermis to the subcutaneous muscle. Vascular dysfunction and interstitial fluid buildup are proposed drivers of cellulite when combined with tortuous dermal architecture and adipose hypertrophy; therefore, resolution of cellulite also demands a solution that integrates multiple aspects of skin biology.

With this rationale, a tightening and toning cream (TTC) was formulated using a proprietary blend of bioactive botanicals that target multiple key processes that control overall skin quality including ECM integrity, lymphatic drainage, mitigation of inflammation, cellular clearance and recycling, and adipocyte metabolism. In the following report, we describe select ingredients and mechanisms of action leveraged by TTC, as well as provide preclinical proof-of-concept for its use to improve skin health and appearance, and to complement body contouring procedures.