Obesity is one of the most challenging battles an obese person will fight, and the last thing you want to find at the finish line is another problem.
Unfortunately, that is the case for many of us who go through drastic weight loss; you finally manage to lose the weight only to be faced with a new problem: excess skin.
Hi, my name is Danial. I’ve been battling obesity since I was a child, and as a result, I have gone through many types of diets, exercise regimens, and visits to the doctor and nutritionist.
Now in my late 20s, I am proud to say that I have lost a total of eighty pounds from a whopping total of three hundred, which is the weight I have accumulated since childhood and adolescence.
It was not an easy journey, as most people who have gone through big weight loss would say, and one of my main problems and insecurities is the loose skin that my weight loss has left me with.
My loose skin hangs off of my arms, thighs, and stomach. With this massive amount of weight loss on the course of only a year and a half, my skin couldn’t catch up with the dramatic weight loss that I’ve gone through.
Like most people with the same problem, loose skin is unpleasant to have and can really bring down a person’s self-esteem.
Fortunately, I’ve found a few ways on how to get rid of loose skin for good, and I would like to share this knowledge with everyone who is going through the same problem.
Both people who have lost a lot of weight and people who are thinking of going into an extreme weight loss journey have one common concern, and that is loose skin.
Loose skin is a side effect of losing a large amount of weight, and it is a typical problem for people who went through dramatic weight changes.
In this article, we will go over the causes of loose skin, how you can prevent it, and how to get rid of it after a huge weight loss.
Essentially, we want to answer the million dollar question asked by many people who want to lose a massive amount of weight: does loose skin go away after weight loss?
What Causes Loose Skin?
Most people get loose skin when they go through a dramatic weight loss transformation in a short period of time.
Skin is an elastic organ. It can stretch to accommodate extra weight as we gain it. However, when the excess weight is lost in a relatively short amount of time, the skin cannot tighten back to the way it used to before.
The elasticity of the skin depends on a number of factors such as:
As people get older, the elasticity of the skin decreases. This is the reason behind sagging skin in older people, as well as wrinkles and extra flab.
If you are an older person who has undergone an extreme weight loss transformation, your skin is more prone to being loose afterward. Moreover, genetics also play a role in how much elasticity does the skin retains as we age.
Large amount of weight loss
A weight loss of 50 to 100 pounds or more that is done in a short amount of time is the main cause of loose skin. When the body loses fat and excess weight rapidly, the skin does not have enough time to tighten back to its original state.
Obesity and overweight nutritional status
If you have been overweight or obese for a significant amount of time, the body’s skin may be permanently stretched.
After a huge weight loss, it may be very difficult to get rid of loose skin without surgical intervention.
Nutrition and hydration
Diet and water intake play a big role in skin health and elasticity. A balanced diet that is sufficient in both macro- and micronutrients, as well as water, will help retain the skin’s elasticity and firmness.
How to Avoid Loose Skin
If you want to avoid loose skin after losing a lot of weight, then you may want to plan your diet and exercise regimen ahead of time.
Prevention is the best way to avoid loose and saggy skin. Here are some tips that you need to keep in mind before embarking on your weight loss journey:
Weight loss must be gradual. If you want to lose more than fifty pounds of weight, do so in a slow and gradual manner.
A weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week is a nutritionally safe way to lose weight.
Not only is it easier to keep the weight off this way, it also ensures your skin has enough time to shrink and adjust to the loss of fat and excess weight.
Do muscle-building exercises. Building muscle is just as important as doing cardio at the gym. A loss of fat and an increase in muscle is the best way to boost your metabolism as well as make your weight loss permanent.
Muscle building exercise can also help tighten up loose skin, but only to some extent.
Plan a nutritionally-sound diet. Consult with a doctor or a registered nutritionist to plan your diet. A weight reducing diet should be rich in vitamins and minerals, especially those that help promote skin elasticity and laxity.
Moreover, you should also pay attention to your water intake, especially if you are going to exercise regularly.
How to Get Rid of Loose Skin
If you are already at the point where you’ve lost the excess weight and the skin around your belly, thighs, or arms is loose and saggy, then you may be wondering how to tighten skin after weight loss.
In this section, we will talk about several body contouring options that you can look into if you want to get rid of loose skin through surgical means.
- Lower body lift. A lower body lift is also known as a belt lipectomy. In this cosmetic procedure, tissues from the knee up are ‘lifted’ to lessen the appearance and effect on the mobility of loose skin.
Lower body lifts focus on the buttocks, backs of the thighs, outer thighs, inner thighs, hips, and the abdomen.
This procedure is done for people who have lost a lot of weight, especially those whose loose skin causes difficulty in moving and walking.
- Brachioplasty. Another problem area after large and rapid weight loss is saggy arms. Loose skin on the upper arms can cause great displeasure even after losing a lot of weight. A Brachioplasty Brachioplasty is a procedure that tightens the skin and reduces the dropping of the arms.
- Upper body lift. An upper body lift is done when there is excess skin on the torso, particularly on the chest or breast area. This procedure aims to eliminate hanging skin on the breasts, chest, and back.
- Breast reshaping. With severe weight gain and weight loss, the skin of the breasts may become very saggy and inelastic. Breast reshaping can take off excess skin from the breast area and possibly reshape the breasts into a more appealing appearance.
- Panniculectomy. People who have lost a lot of weight, particularly along the abdomen, are prone to having a hanging mass of skin from their belly. A panniculectomy is a procedure wherein the excess skin is removed to reveal a tighter tummy, sort of similar to a tummy tuck.
Are You a Good Candidate for Body Contouring?
Loose skin after weight loss is often a cause of embarrassment, self-esteem problems, and dissatisfaction with the accomplishment of losing so much weight.
Getting rid of loose skin through surgical means may be the only option for many people who have lost a significant amount of weight.
However, not everyone may be approved for such procedures. Here are a few things that dermatologists/surgeons would require from their patients:
- No recurring weight gain. Doctors require that their patients keep the weight off for at least six months before going under the knife for body contouring surgery.
If you are still struggling to keep the weight off, consult with a nutritionist-dietitian or a doctor specializing in weight loss for more efficient ways to keep your weight stable enough for surgery.
- Good health. These procedures require that a patient is in good health. Patients with other medical conditions, maintenance medications, or any other comorbidity should speak with their doctor or surgeon about the possible risk factors.
- A big amount of excess skin. People who have a lot of excess skin are good candidates for skin removal or body contouring surgeries. This includes patients who have gone through drastic weight loss or bariatric surgery.
Dramatic weight loss in itself is a big challenge. However, for people like myself who have lost more than fifty pounds, loose skin is something that they often complain about.
The weight is off, but what about the sagging skin that it left behind?
It surely has been a struggle for me, and more so for other people who have more excess skin hanging from their bodies.
In this article, we’ve discussed the possible options on how to prevent loose skin and how to get rid of it post-weight loss.
Hopefully, this information will help a lot of you out there who are planning to lose a lot of weight in the future, as well as those who have already lost it.
Thanks for reading!
Share this with your friends who are planning on going on a weight loss journey, or those who have concerns about their post weight loss excess skin, and share your own experience with us in the comment section.